Toxic Tall Fescue Renovation Schools

Livestock producers have known for many years the animal production issues associated with toxic Kentucky 31 (KY-31) tall fescue. The endophyte fungus that grows between infected plant cells produces chemicals harmful to animals, but the fungus is beneficial to the fescue plant.

Researchers developed varieties of tall fescue that did not have the endophyte fungus, but these endophyte free varieties lacked persistence. Additional research has discovered so called novel or friendly endophytes. These novel endophytes do not produce animal toxins, but provide plant protection benefits, and thus have the potential to be more persistent than their endophyte free counterparts. New tall fescue varieties have been developed that contain these friendly  endophytes.

In order to establish novel endophyte tall fescue, in many cases toxic KY-31 tall fescue must be killed before the new fescue variety can be seeded.  Information about this renovation process has been condensed into a one-day school. During 2017, renovation schools are being held in Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky and are being sponsored by the   Alliance for Grassland Renewal with additional support from the University of Missouri, Kansas State University and the University of Kentucky.

The schedule for these schools and registration contact information is as follows:


Monday, March 6, 2017.  Mound Valley Community Center, Mound Valley, KS; Karen Walters, 620-820-6127.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Southwest Center, 14548 Highway H, Mount Vernon, MO; Eldon Cole, 417-466-3102.


Thursday, March 9, 2017. UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Lexington, KY; register a .


Additional registration information and forms are available on the Alliance for Grassland Renewal website . All of the schools start at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. The registration fee includes a notebook of presentations, lunch, and breaks.

The following information is taken from the Alliance for Grassland Renewal webpage and more fully explains the purpose of the organization.  “The Alliance for Grassland Renewal formed in 2012. Participants include partners from the university, government, industry (including producers, seed companies, testing labs) and nonprofit groups. The current board members are from Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Missouri. The goal of the Alliance is to work together in replacing toxic tall fescue grass with a tall fescue that hosts a nontoxic endophyte, sometimes called a "novel" endophyte. This goal is pursued through four objectives: education, seed quality control, incentives, and promotion.”  These renovation schools have been developed by the Alliance in order to help forage producers understand why fescue renovation is important, and the steps to take to help ensure a successful transition from toxic to non-toxic tall fescue pastures and hay fields.

Source: Gene Schmitz, MU Extension Livestock Specialist