Chisholm tall fescue pasture during the early spring growing period. Noble Research Institute
Chisholm tall fescue pasture during the early spring growing period.

New summer-dormant tall fescue variety released

Cool-season perennial grass produces forage for livestock from fall to spring and does not need to be replanted each year.

Noble Research Institute researchers have developed and released a new tall fescue variety called Chisholm to provide a new forage option for agricultural producers in western Oklahoma and Texas.

Tall fescue is a cool-season perennial grass, which means it produces forage for livestock from fall to spring and does not need to be replanted each year. Chisholm is the first tall fescue variety released by Noble that is adapted to the hot, dry summers typical west of Interstate 35 in Oklahoma and Texas, where tall fescue has traditionally been unable to persist.

"A major goal of Noble's plant breeding program has been to develop a cool-season perennial grass that could provide producers with an alternative to planting winter annuals, like wheat and cereal rye, each season," Noble Research Institute senior plant breeder Mike Trammell said. "Chisholm, a cool-season perennial, could complement or replace winter annual grazing systems, providing more grazing flexibility to livestock producers or reducing their need to feed hay when bermudagrass is dormant."

Chisholm was developed from Mediterranean tall fescue, which persists in environmental conditions similar to the southern Great Plains, the institute said. In the past, many introduced cool-season perennial grasses were selected from cooler climates in northern Europe. As a result, these grasses were unable to persist in the hot and dry summers typical of western Oklahoma and Texas.

Mediterranean-type tall fescue varieties, including Chisholm, are summer-dormant, which means they stop growing during the summer in response to long days, high temperatures and dry conditions. They start growing again in early fall in response to moisture and cooler temperatures, the announcement explained.

Perennial grasses like Chisholm can also benefit soil health by sequestering carbon in the soil year-round, improving organic matter and reducing soil erosion.

Chisholm is available for purchase through Warner Brothers Seed Co. in Lawton, Okla.

The Noble Research Institute is an independent, nonprofit agricultural research organization dedicated to delivering solutions to great agricultural challenges. Headquartered in Ardmore, Okla., the Noble Research Institute conducts fundamental, translational and applied research, offers no-cost consultation and education to farmers, ranchers and land managers, operates seven research and demonstration farms and educates students of all ages about science and agriculture. The institute was founded in 1945 by Lloyd Noble, an Oklahoma oilman and philanthropist, as The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation to advance agriculture and land stewardship.

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