Fig. 5-3. The lower 7 to 10 cm (3-4 in) of tall fescue plant tillers (stems) are used to determine the presence of the fungal endophyte. About 12 plants/ha (5 plants/acre) must be selected at random from throughout a field, and a tiller (right) from each plant selected (left) should be refrigerated and sent to the laboratory for analysis. (Photo: C.P. West)
Grazing management of seedlings and young plants must be carefully controlled (see Chapter 6 and Chapter 7. Allowing cattle, sheep, horses, or other herbivores to graze when the soil is wet will result in trampling (pugging), stand losses, and damage to soil structure. Grazing too closely should be avoided to allow enough tiller and leaf area development so that photosynthesis is sufficient to supply energy and carbon for crown and root system development, especially the first year. The first grazing should not occur before growth has reached a height of 20 to 30 cm. Grazing pressure should be light enough so that no more than one-third of the aboveground growth be removed at any one time. A minimum 8- to 10-cm stubble height should be maintained at all times, especially when weather conditions are, or are likely to be, adverse to growth. Since the growing points of young stems are close to the ground surface, the growing points rise as stems age and could be removed by too-close grazing. Subsequent growth then has to arise from new, adventitious buds creating new stems (Fig. 5-3), a process that takes time. In a new stand, grazing should be intermittent with adequate periods for leaf area recovery. This will have the dual benefit of preventing excessive removal of leaf area and growing points and controlling volunteer grassy weeds for which selective herbicides do not exist.