Fescue seed production fields are harvested by direct combining or are swathed, windrowed, and then combined. Direct combining in Missouri often begins when 5 to 15% of the seeds are immature (Wheaton, 1995). Harvesting tall fescue seed too early (e.g., when more than 20% of the seeds are immature) usually results in reduced yields, low seed germination, and poor seedling vigor. Most turf-type, tall fescue seed production occurs in the Pacific Northwest (Najda and Yoder, 2005), where production fields are swathed before seed maturity and finish ripening in the windrow (see Chapter 23). Seed producers in Oregon usually begin harvesting by swathing when seed dry matter content reaches 550 to 600 g/kg because the majority of seed approaches physiological maturity at this time (Hill et al., 2005). Plant growth regulators commonly are used during seed production for maximum yield. Plant breeders have significantly increased the yield of newer, turf-type tall fescues over that of early cultivars. For highest seed yields, tall fescue should be seeded in rows and cultivated (Wheaton, 1995). The seed yield of fescue is optimized for at least three consecutive years by establishing an initial density of 20 to100 plants m2 (2-9 plants ft2) in rows spaced 20 to 60 cm (8-24 in) apart (Fairey and Lefkovitch, 1999). Fescue seed yields in Arkansas averaged about 224 kg/ha (200 lb/acre), although several experienced seed producers consistently produced 450 to 670 kg of seed per ha (400-600 lb/acre) (Jennings, 2005). Yields of fescue seed ranging from 2020 to 2240 kg/ha (1800-2000 lb/acre) are observed commonly in the northwest seed-producing states (Jennings, 2005). In 2005, more than 90% of the U.S. and 60% of the world supplies of temperate forage and turfgrass seed, including improved, turf-type tall fescue, was produced on about 187,000 ha (462,086 acre) in the U.S. Pacific Northwest (Steiner et al., 2006). Nearly all the production sites are planted as certified seed, and the seed produced must have a high level of purity and germination (Ocamb and Alderman, 2004).


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