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Tall Fescue: History, Application, Establishment and Management

James Rogers, Ph.D. James Locke

By James Rogers, Ph.D., Associate Professor
and James Locke, Planned Consultation Manager and Senior Soils and Crops Consultant

Posted Dec. 20, 2013

Tall fescue [Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh = Festuca arundinacea] is an introduced, cool-season, perennial grass that is native from Europe to Siberia and into North Africa. The date of the actual introduction into North America is unknown, but it began to appear in seed catalogs in 1870. By 1892, tall fescue began appearing in variety trials from Utah to Kentucky. In 1943, the cultivar Kentucky 31 was released by the University of Kentucky, based on selections taken from a pasture on the William Suiter Farm in Manifee County, Ken. From this selection, the popularity of tall fescue rapidly expanded in the United States from 39,500 acres in 1940 to approximately 37.1 million acres today, making tall fescue the most common introduced grass in the country.

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