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Species & Variety Trials

Our mission is to provide unbiased, comprehensive, accurate and assessable forage variety testing results to industry and producers.

Native, perennial warm-season grasses such as switchgrass (Panicium virgatum L.) and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi Vitman) grow primarily during the warm part of the summer. They produce well compared to cool-season grasses during the hot and dry weather of July and August, and on soils with low moisture holding capacity, low pH, and low phosphorus levels.

Birdsfoot trefoil is a perennial that adapts well to production on poorly drained, low-pH soils.

Forage chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) is a perennial plant that is suited to well-drained or moderately drained soils with medium-to high-fertility levels and a pH of 5.5 or greater.

Cool-season perennial grass and grass-legume pastures typically become less productive as the grazing season advances from June to November. Forage brassica crops such as turnip, swede, rape, and kale can be spring-seeded to supplement the perennial cool-season pastures in August and September or summer-seeded to extend the grazing season in November and December.

Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) is a short-to-medium height, cool-season, long-lived, highly palatable, perennial grass that has smooth, soft, green to dark green leaves with boat-shaped tips.

Orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) is a perennial, cool-season, tall-growing, grass which does not have rhizomes or stolons (bunch-type grass). It starts growth early in spring, develops rapidly, and flowers during May under Pennsylvania conditions. Orchardgrass is more tolerant of shade, drought, and heat than is timothy, perennial ryegrass or Kentucky bluegrass but also grows well in full sunlight (Table 1).

Prairie grass (Bromus wildenowii Kunth.) is a tall-growing perennial grass that is suited to well-drained soils with medium to high fertility levels and a pH of 6.0 or greater.

Ryegrasses are the most widely grown cool-season grasses in the world. They have numerous desirable agronomic qualities. They establish rapidly, have a long growing season, are high yielding under favorable environments when supplied with adequate nutrients, possess high nutrient contents, and can be grazed and used for hay or silage.

Red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) is grown throughout the northeastern United States for forage and is used in rotations for soil improvement. It is adapted to areas with moderate summer temperatures and adequate moisture throughout the growing season.

Reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) is a tall, leafy, high-yielding perennial. It is a cool-season grass which is greater in winterhardiness and more resistant to foliar diseases than other cool-season grasses grown in Pennsylvania.

Smooth bromegrass (Bromus inermis L.) is a leafy, sod-forming perennial grass that is best suited for hay or early spring pasture. It is deep-rooted and spreads by underground rhizomes.

Shortages of forage crops in Pennsylvania most often occur during the summer, when dry conditions have reduced the productivity of pastures, hay crops, or silage corn fields.

White clover (Trifolium repens L.) is a short-lived perennial that can reseed itself under favorable conditions. It grows rapidly and spreads via stolons. White clover has a shallow root system, which makes it intolerant of droughty soils.

Tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinacea Schreb.) is a deep-rooted, long-lived, sod-forming grass that spreads by short underground stems called rhizomes. In Pennsylvania it has been used primarily for conservation purposes but is well suited as hay, silage, or pasture.

Timothy (Phleum pratense L.) is a perennial, bunch-type, shallow-rooted, cool-season grass that is well adapted to the Northeast and Upper Midwest.

A new species of grass that forage producers may soon hear more about is called Meadow Fescue.