October is National Kill Tall Fescue Month

October is a good time to kill Tall Fescue.  I like killing Tall Fescue because it is
perhaps the most invasive non-native plant in North
America.  In my opinion it
is more invasive than Purple loosestrife and Phragmites yet why don’t we hear
more about it?  Not only is Tall Fescue
invasive but it is also toxic! 

We used a glyphosate product last week to start killing a pasture
that is predominately Tall Fescue.  We
are doing this in preparation to replace the Tall Fescue with native warm
season grasses next spring.  When the new
grasses get established we will use it for pasture during the hot summer months
of July and August when the rest of our cool season grass pastures on the farm
usually go dormant. 

Research shows that killing Fescue in the fall results in
only 20% of it coming back whereas if you kill it in the spring 60% of it will
come back.  We plan to spray again next
spring just prior to planting the native grasses.

I also spray around the trees we planted several years ago
because the Fescue is allelopathic to newly planted trees.  That means the Fescue gives off a toxin that
inhibits the growth of new seedlings.  If
you want to plant trees into a Fescue sod you should kill the Fescue first.

Because of Fescue’s growth habit it harbors mice and
voles.  Mice and voles eat tree
seedlings.  Mice and voles also attract
hawks.  Hawks kill quail.  Introducing Fescue into our natural system
here didn’t work out very well.


  1. Braden Tanner says:

    I heard from class that tall fescue is toxic and invasive, so I already was not a big fan. Great post, explaining some more problems with tall fescue such as mice and voles, when to kill tall fescue and what can be used.

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