A better performing summer active tall fescue is now available to get stock ‘humming’ this summer. Hummer tall fescue available from AusWest Seeds has fine, soft leaves to encourage grazing and increase utilisation. Suitable for dairy, beef and sheep grazing, the new summer active perennial pasture also contains the MaxP® endophyte to help it handle pest attacks and moisture stress.
Lachlan Jeffers, AusWest Seeds Territory Manager based in Armidale, said the addition of the MaxP® endophyte was just one of the advantages Hummer had over older tall fescue cultivars.
“Hummer’s sod forming ability increases its persistence, and its fine, soft leaves offer management advantages because the pasture remains more palatable beyond its optimum grazing height,” explained Mr Jeffers. “It has a high tiller density for a high yield in the paddock, but it is also deep rooted and very persistent, even under quite difficult conditions.”
He said AusWest Seeds had been monitoring a test strip of Hummer on Owen and Kaylene Pedlow’s property at Glen Innes for the past four years. With rainfall on the property down by about 50% compared with the annual average this year, the persistence of Hummer has been well tested. “It has been extremely dry, but the Hummer is still going strong and is ready to grow when the rain comes,” Mr Jeffers said.
Owen and Kaylene Pedlow run Highland Court Angus Stud, turning off 50 bulls and 400 feeder steers at 480-540 kg each year from a number of properties across the New England.
At their Glen Innes property, the cattle primarily graze fescue-based pastures, topped up with a few paddocks of ryegrass, lucerne, oat or barley crops. “The Hummer pasture strip is highly productive when it rains, but it has also held on well through the droughts we have had in the past couple of years,” Mr Pedlow said.
“We won’t sow anything other than Hummer in our pastures now, until there’s something proven to be better. It’s softer and more palatable, so the cattle graze the Hummer strip more heavily than the rest of the paddock. Usually with test strips, you have to mark them and after a while you can’t see the difference. We can still see where the Hummer is growing four years down the track – it’s clearly better than other fescues we used.”
Temperate continental fescue pastures grow vigorously in spring, summer and autumn, matching the growing season at Glen Innes and providing good year round feed supplies. Mr Pedlow said they tended to grow pure stands of fescue rather than mixing it with other grass or clover species. They plan to sow up to 100 hectares of Hummer next spring, when better seasonal conditions allow them to recommence their pasture sowing program. “Fescue seems to just suit this area and give us the best productivity,” he said.