How Concerned Should You Be About Meadow Foxtail In Your Pastures

A species of grass has been increasing its presence in some hayfields and pastures.  From a distance the seed head of this grass looks like that of timothy, but farmers know it cannot be because the seed heads of this grass emerge several weeks before most other grasses, while timothy is typically the last grass species to produce seed heads. This grass is called meadow foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis L.) and has been spreading in Vermont for more than a generation – probably much longer than that.  This species is native to Eurasia and has adapted to regions within most of the states and provinces of the U.S. and Canada. Meadow foxtail is a long-lived perennial grass that thrives in moist and/or fine-textured soils and is intolerant of drought.  Early seed production, vigorous seedlings, rhizomes, and rooting from lower nodes allow this plant to form a sod and it can quickly dominate pastures and hay fields under certain conditions.  [Click here to see the USDA Plant description; other detailed plant descriptions can be found under Resources Used, below.] While meadow foxtail is quite responsive to nitrogen inputs, its yield potential is lower than most forage grasses used in dairy systems.  As a pasture species, characteristic early maturity causes reduced palatability early in the grazing season.  In the Northeast, once the coarse stems of the first growth are removed, the vegetative regrowth is palatable to livestock throughout the grazing season.  In dr

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