All climatic zones in New Zealand are suited to tall fescue (Fig. 7-4). Tall fescue has been successful on dairy, beef, and sheep farms in Hawkes Bay (Milne and Moloney, 1991), Waikato (Milne et al., 1997), Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Marlborough, Wairarapa, Central Otago, Northern Southland, and Taranaki. Continental tall fescue cultivars have been successful under irrigation in Canterbury, Manawatu, Central Otago, and Hawkes Bay. They have been shown to use less water than perennial ryegrass in Canterbury (Knight et al., 2007).

Mediterranean tall fescues are suited to the lower rainfall climates in Marlborough, north and mid Canterbury, the Mackenzie Basin, Central Otago, and central Hawkes Bay. In some cases in Northland, endophyte free (E-) tall fescue pastures have failed to persist due to high insect pressure from black beetle [Heteronychus arator (Fabricius)] and Argentine stem weevil [Listronotus bonariensis (Kuschel)]. The availability of novel endophyte such as Max P (Grasslanz Technology Ltd., Palmerston North, New Zealand) in some tall fescue cultivars has resulted in increased use of tall fescue in this region, as these cultivars have shown good persistence after 6 yr where perennial ryegrass survived for 3 to 4 yr in the same trials. The Southland and South Otago environments are well suited to perennial ryegrass but not to tall fescue, except in northern Southland, in areas with sandy soils, or those prone to grass grub [Costelytra zealandica (White)]. Tall fescue is not well suited to gray coastal sandy soils unless irrigated and highly fertilized.


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Fig. 7-4. Areas suitable for Mediterranean and continental tall fescues in New Zealand.

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