Establishing Legumes in a Tall Fescue Sward


Tall fescue [Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort.] is a common grass species in the eastern half of the USA, but legumes grown with it could provide benefits. Obstacles to legume establishment in fescue pastures include disease, insect damage, and grass competition. Experiments were performed in 2010 and 2011 at Site 1 to test the efficacy of insect control, disease control, and two methods of grass suppression on seedling establishment of three legumes. The highest seedling density of red clover (Trifolium pretense L.) was obtained with glyphosate treatment regardless of pest control and for clipping without pest control. No overall or consistent benefit was found for white clover (Trifolium pretense L.) or trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.) from seed and foliar insecticides or fungicides, or for grass suppression by either clipping or glyphosate application. Experiments were performed in 2012 and 2013 at Site 2 to test the efficacy of grass suppression by grazing cattle or by clethodim application. Seedling density of red clover was not significantly improved by either treatment, but the density of birdsfoot trefoil was increased by clethodim, and the density of white clover was increased in 2013 by both methods of grass suppression. Overall, red clover was least sensitive to grass competition. Birdsfoot trefoil was better served by the immediate effect of chemical suppression, whereas white clover benefitted most from the lengthier grass suppression provided by grazing.

Share and Cite:

Min, D. and Moyer, J. (2015) Establishing Legumes in a Tall Fescue Sward. American Journal of Plant Sciences, 6, 355-361. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2015.62040.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Russelle, M. and Birr, A. (2004) Large-Scale Assessment of Symbiotic Dinitrogen Fixation by Crops: Soybean and Alfalfa in the Mississippi River Basin. Agronomy Journal, 96, 1754-1760.
[2] Matches, A.G. (1989) A Survey of Legume Production and Persistence in the United States. In: Marten, G.C., et al., Eds., Persistence of Forage Legumes, ASA, CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, 37-45.
[3] Burton, G.W. (1992) Growing Legumes with Coastal Bermudagrass in the Lower Coastal Plains. Journal of Production Agriculture, 5, 278-281.
[4] Sheaffer, C.C. (1990) Grass Dominance and Mixture Yield and Quality in Perennial Grass—Alfalfa Mixtures. Journal of Production Agriculture, 3, 480-485.
[5] Burns, J.C. and Chamblee, D.S. (1979) Adaptation. In: Buckner, R.C. and Bush, L.P., Eds., Tall Fescue, ASA, CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, 9-30.
[6] Deak, A., Hall, M.H., Sanderson, M.A. and Archibald, D.D. (2007) Production and Nutritive Value of Grazed Simple and Complex Forage Mixtures. Agronomy Journal, 99, 814-821.
[7] Rayburn, E.B., Blazer, R.E. and Fontenot, J.P. (1980) In Vivo Quality of Tall Fescue as Influenced by Season, Legumes, Age, and Canopy Strata. Agronomy Journal, 72, 872-876.
[8] Burton, R.O., Berends, P.T., Moyer, J.L., Coffey, K.P. and Lomas, L.W. (1994) Economic Analysis of Grazing and Subsequent Feeding of Steers from Three Fescue Pasture Alternatives. Journal of Production Agriculture, 7, 482-489.
[9] Moyer, J.L., Dhuyvetter, K.C. and Shoup, D. (2009) Comparison of Returns from Legumes in Endophyte-Infected Tall Fescue for Hay. Forage and Grazinglands, 7, 1.
[10] Allen, V.G., Fontenot, J.P. and Notter, D.R. (1992) Forage Systems for Beef Production from Conception to Slaughter: II. Stocker Systems. Journal of Animal Science, 70, 588-596.
[11] Lomas, L.W., Moyer, J.L. and Kilgore, G.L. (1999) Effect of Interseeding Legumes into Endophyte-Infected Tall Fescue Pastures on Forage Production and Steer Performance. Journal of Production Agriculture, 12, 479-483.
[12] Cuomo, G.J., Johnson, D.G. and Head, W.A. (2001) Interseeding Kura Clover and Birdsfoot Trefoil into Existing Cool-Season Grass Pastures. Agronomy Journal, 93, 458-462.
[13] Seguin, P., Peterson, P.R., Sheaffer, C.C. and Smith, D.L. (2001) Physical Sod Suppression as an Alternative to Herbicide Use in Pasture Renovation with Clovers. Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 81, 255-263.
[14] Guretzky, J.A., Moore, K.J., Knapp, A.D. and Brummer, E.C. (2004) Emergence and Survival of Legumes Seeded into Pastures Varying in Landscape Position. Crop Science, 44, 227-233.
[15] Butler, T.J., Stein, J.D., Interrante, S.M. and Malinowski, D.P. (2011) Novel Approaches to Establishing Alfalfa-Tall Fescue Pastures in the Southern Great Plains. Forage and Grazinglands, 9, 1.
[16] Littell, R.C., Milliken, G.A., Stroup, W.W. and Wolfinger, R.D. (1996) SAS System for Mixed Models. SAS Institute, Inc., Cary, NC, USA.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.