Stockpiling tall fescue begins with N fertilization. Research has shown that N added at the onset of autumn growth can stimulate the production of high quality forage. The timing and rate of application affect the yield and quality.


Rate of Nitrogen Application


The amount of N fertilizer will greatly affect dry matter accumulation. In a 3-yr Kentucky study (Taylor and Templeton, 1976), 112 kg N/ha (100 lb N/acre) produced 3.4 Mg/ha (1.5 ton/acre) of dry matter from 15 August to 2 March of the following year (Table 6-1), doubling the yield of the unfertilized control; the fertilized tall fescue yielded 1.1 Mg/ha (0.5 ton/acre) more than Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.). Rate of N fertilizer application also affects forage quality (see Chapter 11). Balasko (1977) reported higher crude protein, digestibility, and Mg and K contents when pastures were fertilized with 60 kg/ha (55 lb/acre) than when not fertilized.


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Timing of Application


Nitrogen should be applied about 6 to 9 wk before the end of the growing season, for example, in mid to late August in the Upper South. Earlier application increases yields but lowers quality (Rayburn et al., 1979; Matches, 1979) as a result of increased growth from warm season grasses (Table 6-2) in the stand.


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Other Effects on Production of Stockpiled Tall Fescue

The main management practices that affect production of stockpiled yield include initiation date, rate of N fertilizer, and timing of N application. However, no management practices affect stockpiling success as much as precipitation. In various multi-year experiments, the year effect had a greater impact on production than any of the experimental effects (Collins and Balasko, 1981a). In addition to low precipitation, low light intensity during winter also reduces stockpile yield (Taylor and Templeton, 1976).


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