Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea, Schreb.) is a well adapted, widely used pasture species occupying approximately 5.5 million acres in Kentucky and 35 million acres in the south central United States.

Commercial tall fescue varieties have been developed from plant materials of either northern European or Mediterranean origin. Varieties developed at the University of Kentucky -- Kentucky 31, Kenmont, Kenwell, Kenhy, and Johnstone -- trace to plant materials of northern European origin. The Kentucky varieties have later maturity dates and have greater resistance to certain foliar diseases during summer than varieties that are of Mediterranean origin (i.e., Alta, Fawn, Goar, and AU-Triumph) when grown under environmental conditions and management regimes prevailing in Kentucky. Varieties of Mediterranean origin have excellent ear1y spring and late fall growth when foliar diseases are not a problem. Foliar diseases, however, may cause them to be of inferior quality and to make poor growth during the summer. Generally, in Kentucky, tall fescue is used for hay and for pasture in spring, summer and fall. Agronomic research data indicate that varieties of northern European origin are superior to varieties of Mediterranean origin for forage purposes in Kentucky.

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