SEDALIA, Mo. — Livestock producers have known for many years the animal production issues associated with toxic Kentucky 31 (KY-31) tall fescue. The endophyte fungus that grows between infected plant cells produces chemicals harmful to animals, but the fungus is beneficial to the fescue plant.
Researchers developed varieties of tall fescue that did not have the endophyte fungus, but these endophyte free varieties lacked persistence. Additional research has discovered so called novel or friendly endophytes. These novel endophytes do not produce chemicals toxic to livestock, but provide plant protection benefits, and thus have
the potential to be more persistent than their endophyte free counterparts. New tall fescue varieties have been developed that contain these friendly endophytes.
In order to establish novel endophyte tall fescue, in many cases toxic KY-31 tall fescue must be killed before the new fescue variety can be seeded. Information about this renovation process has been condensed into a one-day school. During 2021, renovation schools are being held both virtually and in-person in Missouri and Kentucky. These
schools are sponsored by the Alliance for Grassland Renewal whose partners include universities, government, industries, and non-profit groups.
The virtual school will be held on three consecutive evenings beginning on Tuesday, February 23. Sessions run from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. central standard time. Tuesday’s session focuses on toxic fescue and management of novel tall fescue. Wednesday evening’s session highlights establishment techniques. Thursday’s session ends with a discussion on the economics of converting toxic tall fescue fields to non-toxic tall fescue. Speakers include forage and livestock experts from throughout the Fescue Belt.
Missouri’s in-person school will be held on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at the MU Southwest Center at Mt. Vernon, MO. The Mt. Vernon school starts at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. The registration fee includes a notebook of presentations, lunch, and breaks. Spaces are limited based on social distancing and masking requirements.
Additional information and registration for either the virtual or in-person school is available on the Alliance for Grassland Renewal website http://grasslandrenewal.org. You can also contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Pettis County Extension Center at (660) 827-0591 if you have additional questions.
— Missouri Extension
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