Brome, Meadow

Meadow brome is an under-utilized forage grass for the northern tier of the U.S. It is very persistent, has exceptional winter hardiness, is a very good yielder, and is very good forage quality. Due to its quick regrowth, yield potential and durability, meadow brome can be used for pasture or hay. Meadow brome mixes well with alfalfa, red clover or other grasses. It does not have the sod-forming ability that smooth brome has. Meadow brome, however, is often in short supply.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Long-lived, Bunch Grass 

Forage Quality:  Excellent

Seeding Rate: 15-20 lbs/acre

 

Brome, Smooth

Smooth brome is a sod-forming grass that is very popular in parts of the northern Plains and Midwest. It is a medium-quality grass and is very persistent in cold climates. For large yields, it does require significant applications of nitrogen. It can be beneficial in small amounts in a mix because of its sod-forming ability.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Long-lived, Sod-forming 

Forage Quality: Medium 

Seeding rate: 15-20 lbs/acre

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is not a widely popular forage grass because of its low yields. It is a high-quality forage and is very cold tolerant. It is often included in mixes in small quantities because it is a sod-forming grass and can have some benefit in heavily pressured pastures, especially horse pastures. Overall, the benefit of Kentucky bluegrass in cattle pastures and hayfields is minimal at best.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Long-lived, Sod-forming 

Forage Quality: Excellent

Seeding Rate: 10-15 lbs/acre

Orchardgrass

Orchardgrass is probably the best overall forage grass for the northern Plains, Midwest, upper South, Northeast and parts of the Pacific Northwest and West. It has better heat and drought tolerance then just about every cool-season perennial forage (except tall fescue), very good cold tolerance, excellent forage quality, and excellent yields. Orchardgrass is also a longer-lived perennial than many popular forages, including perennial ryegrass and timothy. For a majority of mixed pasture and hayfields in its adaptation zone, orchardgrass should consist of a large percentage of the stand. Postpone (medium-late maturing) is an improved orchardgrass that provides greater yields and better persistence. For more information on Postpone, click the tech sheet download links.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Long-lived, Bunch Grass

Forage Quality: Excellent 

Seeding rate: 15-20 lbs/acre

Festulolium

In an effort to produce a forage grass similar to perennial ryegrass, only more persistent, plant breeders crossed meadow fescue with Italian or perennial ryegrass. The result is a forage that has some of the persistent qualities of the fescue while maintaining the high forage quality of the ryegrass. Characteristics of festulolium varieties can differ, with some being more like meadow fescue and other being more like ryegrass. Ultimately, many varieties look and act much like perennial ryegrass, but as mentioned, there can be differences.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Short-lived, Bunch Grass

Forage Quality: Excellent 

Seeding rate: 25-35 lbs/acre

Ryegrass, Annual

Annual ryegrass is a cool-season, annual bunch grass. It produces high yields and is exceptionally high forage quality. Additionally, it provides numerous benefits as a cover crop. Annual ryegrass is fairly cold tolerant and can over winter up to the southern tip of the Great Lakes region. Easy and quickly to establish, forage annual ryegrass varieties are most often used in the Southern U.S. to interseed warm-season pastures and hayfields to create cool-season forage. However, it can also be used for cool-season forage throughout its adaptation zone. Perforate is an improved annual ryegrass product developed to provide the best benefits for forage or cover crop use. For more information on Perforate, click the tech sheet download link.

Forage Type: Annual, Cool-season, Bunch Grass

Forage Quality: Excellent 

Seeding rate: 20-35 lbs/acre (differs for cover crop, hay and pasture uses)

Ryegrass, Perennial

Perennial ryegrass is one of the highest-quality perennial grasses available for the northern half of the country. Its excellent palatability and very high sugar content lead to its high quality and excellent animal performance. Perennial ryegrass is common for cattle operations but has a very devout following among many dairy managers because milk cow performance is so good when grazing perennial ryegrass. However, it is short-lived, often lasting for only a couple years, and it occasionally suffers from winter kill. Candy perennial ryegrass is an improved perennial ryegrass product that provides greater yields, higher quality and better persistence. For more information on Candy perennial ryegrass, click the tech sheet download link.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Short-lived, Bunch Grass

Forage Quality: Excellent 

Seeding Rate: 25-35 lbs/acre

Tall Fescue

Tall fescue is regarded as the most heat and drought tolerant species of the cool-season perennial grass category. It is successfully grown into the South. However, a fungus, called endophyte, that is naturally found in the plant, provides the plant with persistence in tough conditions. Endophyte is very toxic to cattle, causing very poor weight gains, low conception rates, poor blood circulation, poor hair coats, overheating, and other problems. Endophyte-free varieties have been developed (Fawn is a common tall fescue variety that is endophyte free). These varieties provide good quality forage and improved varieties have an adaptation range similar to orchardgrass, with very good heat and drought tolerance. Improved endophyte-free varieties have the potential for yields that exceed most other perennial cool-season grasses. Endurance is an improved tall fescue product that provides greater yields, higher quality and better persistence. For more information on Endurance tall fescue, click the tech sheet download link.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Long-lived, Bunch Grass

Forage Quality: Medium-Excellent

Seeding Rate: 25-35 lbs/acre

Teff

Teff is a warm-season, annual, bunch grass that is native to Africa. It is used as a cereal grain there, where it produces tiny seeds that are ground into flour. However, like the common cereals used in North America (barley, oats, rye, triticale, wheat), teff is also very good forage quality. It has a rapidly growing following in both the livestock and horse hay markets. It is very tolerant of drought and prefers hot temperatures. A couples inches of rainfall per month is generally more than enough to generate high-quality forage yields. Teff responds well to split fertilizer applications high in nitrogen. Plant after soil temps reach 65 degrees F. It dies when temps fall into the 20s.

Forage Type: Annual, Warm-season, Bunch Grass

Forage Quality: Excellent

Seeding Rate: 8-10 lbs/acre

Timothy

Timothy is a popular cool-season perennial grass because it is decent quality and relatively cheap to establish (seed costs are similar to other grasses, but seeding rates are lower). However, timothy is very short-lived, with two years of growth being common. And its quality is often not as good as orchardgrass, perennial ryegrass or meadow fescue. Timothy does have a strong following for the horse market, but if used for battle operations, it should only consist of a small percentage of the mix. Stallion is an improved timothy product that provides greater yields, higher quality and better persistence. For more information on Stallion timothy, click the tech sheet download link.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Short-lived, Bunch Grass

Forage Quality: Excellent 

Seeding Rate: 10-15 lbs/acre

Wheatgrass, Crested (Crested, Desert, Fairway, Siberian types)

The category of crested wheatgrass is relatively palatable, long-lived, and is most productive in the spring, with additional growth in the fall. They various types can be quickly established. They are commonly used in the Plains and West in areas of 10 to 16 inches of annual rainfall, although Siberian can survive on as little as 7 inches of annual rainfall or on drought prone soils. Fairway performs better at exceptionally high elevations.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Long-lived, Bunch Grass

Forage Quality: Medium

Seeding Rate: 6-12 lbs/acre

Wheatgrass, Intermediate

Intermediate wheatgrass is a cool-season perennial best adapted to the Central Plains where annual rainfall is 15-25 inches. It is a sod-forming grass that can be easily established and provides decent forage. Harvests should take place in late spring or early summer after the stand reaches 2 to 4 feet in height. Growth will slow or stop as temperatures increase and rainfall decreases. Growth can resume in the fall. Intermediate wheatgrass is not especially tolerant of high or low soil pH levels or wet soils.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Long-lived, Sod-forming

Forage Quality: Medium 

Seeding Rate: 10-12 lbs/acre

Wheatgrass, Pubescent

Pubescent wheatgrass is similar to intermediate wheatgrass. If harvested at the proper time, pubescent can be similar forage quality to intermediate and better than crested wheatgrass. Pubescent can be more drought tolerant than intermediate or crested, staying green longer into the summer.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Long-lived, Sod-forming

Forage Quality: Medium 

Seeding Rate: 10-12 lbs/acre

Wheatgrass, Slender

Slender wheatgrass is best adapted to the more arid regions of the West and Northern Plains. It is a short-lived, cool-season, perennial bunchgrass that rarely persists for more than a couples years. Although it is somewhat drought tolerant (less tolerant than crested or western wheatgrass), slender wheatgrass does not produce high yields. It does, however, persist in alkaline soils.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Short-lived, Bunch Grass

Forage Quality: Medium 

Seeding Rate: 6-12 lbs/acre

Wheatgrass, Tall

Tall wheatgrass is a long-lived perennial bunch grass that is exceptionally tolerant of alkaline and saline soils. It has been established in soils with remarkably high salt levels and a pH exceeding 10. It is drought tolerant and can survive on as little as 10 inches of rainfall per year. Tall wheatgrass can grow to 6 feet tall and produces medium-quality forage. It often establishes slowly. The species can be established in much of the Plains and West.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Long-lived, Bunch Grass

Forage Quality: Medium 

Seeding Rate: 6-12 lbs/acre.

Wheatgrass, Western

Very drought tolerant and ideal for grazing or hay, western wheatgrass is a cool-season perennial. Western wheatgrass is best adapted to the Central and Northern Plaines. It is sod forming and produces a vast majority of its highest quality forage in late spring and early summer. Western wheatgrass significantly drops in quality later in the summer. Western is shorter than other wheatgrasses, producing seed heads that are 2 to 3 feet tall. It is tolerant of most soil types and alkaline conditions.

Forage Type: Perennial, Cool-season, Long-lived, Bunch Grass

Forage Quality: Medium 

Seeding Rate: 6-15 lbs/acre