Persist Orchardgrass

Persist and Grazing

Grazing Experiments

University of Tennessee
Ames Plantation, 2004-2005

In 2003, The University of Tennessee's Agricultural Experiment Station planted seventeen 3-acre pastures at Ames Plantation for the purpose of comparing steer performance, forage productivity and longevity of the cool-season forages available to Tennessee beef producers. Persist orchardgrass was amongst the entries. As of the Summer of 2005, the following exciting data is available:

Simply put, the steer preferred Persist over KY-31 and had significantly higher gains. In 82 days of grazing, the steer gained 99 lbs on Persist and 127 lbs on Persist with clover, compared to gains of only 59 lbs on KY-31. This data was consistent for the first two years of the experiment. We expect subsequent data from the next few years to reflect more of the same.

2004 Spring Steer Performance
Year One
Ames Plantation, SW Tennessee
Treatment Starting Weight Ending Weight Average Daily Gain
Persist & Clover 661 758 1.42
Persist 665 767 1.13
KY-31 E+ 690 750 0.68
in lbs; 84 days of Grazing
2005 Spring Steer Performance
Year Two
Ames Plantation, SW Tennessee
Treatment Starting Weight Ending Weight Average Daily Gain
Persist & Clover 660 794 1.68
Persist 614 716 1.29
KY-31 E+ 690 744 0.75
in lbs; 84 days of Grazing
2004-05 Spring Steer Performance
2 Year Average
Ames Plantation, SW Tennessee
Treatment Starting Weight Ending Weight Average Daily Gain
Persist & Clover 661 776 1.55
Persist 640 742 1.21
KY-31 E+ 690 747 0.72
in lbs; 82 days of Grazing
Want to learn more?
Download the presentation.

University of Kentucky
Lexington, 2005-2009

In 2005 the University of Kentucky planted 5 x 15 randomized plots replicated six times in Lexington,KY. Trials include a rotational grazing study and a continuous grazing study. Persist orchardgrass was amongst the entries. While the trial is small (only four commercial entries), it is worth observing that Persist appears to keep a very high percent stand, while some varieties decrease their stand over the same time period. It is also worth noting the difference in performance of the some entries between continuous and rotational grazing:

U. of Kentucky Continuous Grazing chart for 06-09U. of Kentucky Rotational Grazing chart for 06-09

Intake Study
Persist Good Alternative to Novel-Endophyte Fescue

Results from an intake and digestibility study have recently been published in Crop Science. The study was conducted by J.C. Burns and D.S. Fischer, using a low endophyte tall fescue (Cajun), two novel endophyte tall fescues(Max-Q and HM4), and Persist Orchardgrass. While the primary purpose of the study was to measure and document the nutrient values and digestible forage qualities without the “confounding influence of toxic endophyte,” the study also substantiates those same nutrient values and digestible forage qualities for Persist orchardgrass. This may be particularly valuable for beef and dairy producers, as well as hay famers specifically as it relates to comparing Persist orchardgrass to novel-endophyte tall fescues such as Max-Q.

As part of the trial, researchers planted and grew hay crops of each variety. Those crops were later fed to Angus steers and Boer x Spanish weather goats. Researchers took numerous measurements including daily weights, fecal collections, and hay samples. Nutrient compositions were calculated using NIRS and wet chemistry methods. The entire report is quite extensive, yet worth the read. As it relates to Persist orchardgrass and steers, the study showed intake of Persist orchardgrass to be 14% higher than that of Max-Q tall fescue. While Max-Q had a higher digestion rate, the overall Digestible Dry Matter and Digestible NDF were higher in Persist than in Max-Q. The researchers concluded their report with this statement: "These data indicate that in a cattle production setting, either Max Q or Persist could be expected to give similar animal daily responses."

It is important to note that the researchers chose Persist specifically because it is was bred for improved persistence. Persist is the most extensively bred orchardgrass available, with original plant collections and selections dating back over five decades. While only on the market for six years, Persist is fast becoming recognized as the most dependable, persistent orchardgrass variety available. It is also recognized as being able to tolerate close grazing, provide excellent hay yields, overcome cold weather and ice storm, survive severe droughts, and generally out-yield and out-survive other orchardgrass varieties.

To obtain a full copy of the study click here or read it in Crop Science Vol. 50 January-February 2010.

Nutrition Data

Data from Penn State confirms that Persist's nutritional quality is just as good as its ability to survive.

Penn State Nutrition Quality
Rock Springs, PA, 2005
Variety Protein ADF NDF
Barexcel 15.6 26.7 56.5
Persist 14.9 27.4 57.4
Command 14.7 28.4 57.8
Bounty 15.4 27.1 58.0
Niva 15.4 28.2 58.5
Century 15.1 27.0 58.3
Pennlate 15.1 27.2 58.3
Extend 14.6 27.6 58.5
Shiloh II 14.8 28.2 59.5
Haymaster 13.2 30.0 60.9
Athos 130 32.9 61.9
Barlemas 13.5 31.7 62.0
measured with NIR

Palitability Data

Data from Wisconsin State University confirms that Persist is very good!!

Palatability Rating (1-5)*
Lancaster, WI, 2006
Variety Species May 5 Jun 8 Jul 2 Sep 9 Nov 1 Ave
Persist Orchardgrass 3 4 4 2.8 3.8 3.7
Felopa Festulolium 3.6 3 3.4 3.3 3.4 3.3
Agula Festulolium 3.4 3 3.6 3 3.8 3.2
Harverster Orchardgrass 3 3.2 3.2 3.3 3.8 3.1
Matrix Festulolium 3.4 2.4 3.2 3 3.3 3.1
Sulino Festulolium 3.6 2.8 3 2.8 3.5 3.1
*PALAT.=Palatability rating 0=0% grazed, 1=20%, 2=40%, 3=60%, 4=80%, 5=100% grazed. Palatability of grasses under grazing is determined by visual estimation of percent defoliation of plots. The visual determination is made midway during mob grazing by beef cows of the grass plots for intake determination. | Lsd = 0.5

Calf Study

The objective of this experiment is to compare steer performance and forage productivity and longevity of cool-season forages available to Tennessee beef producers. Eighteen 1.2-ha pastures on the Hancock Place at Ames Plantation are assigned to six cool-season forages with three replicate pastures of each. The cool-season forage treatments are: (1) endophyte-infected Ky-31 tall fescue;(2) endophyte-infected Ky-31 tall fescue plus red and white clovers; (3) endophyte-free Jesup tall fescue; (4) Jesup MaxQ tall fescue, (5) Persist orchardgrass; and (6) Persist orchardgrass plus red and white clovers. All experimental pastures were established in fall of 2002. In spring 2003, hay was harvested from each pasture in late May. Pastures were fertilized with 50kg N/ha in early September and fescue was stockpiled prior to initiation of grazing in Mid December 2003 with five newly weaned steers/ 1.2 ha pasture for all grazing seasons. Steers were fed fescue hay and range cubes when forage growth was not sufficient to support animal performance. Grazing was terminated in mid June. Following termination of spring grazing, a new group of newly weaned calves from the fall calving herd were used to graze summer growth until stockpiling began in early September. Newly weaned steers began grazing stockpiled pastures in mid December with four steers/1.2 ha pasture. Grazing continued until early June of 2005.

Results of spring grazing indicated that the lowest average daily gain was for steers grazing E+ tall fescue. Animal performance was similar for Persist orchardgrass and Jesup MaxQ tall fescue.

Complete trial data on the Calf Study is available upon request.