Festulolium (Perennial X Tall)
Festulolium is the name for a hybrid forage grass developed by crossing certain fescues and ryegrasses. This enables combining the best properties of the two types of grass. The resulting hybrids have been classified as:
Festuca arudinacea (Tall Fescue)
Lolium perenne (Perennial Ryegrass)
As with most hybrids, the plant breeders attempt to breed the best parts of both parent varieties into the hybrid to create something that improves on the parents’ traits with hybrid vigour. The fescues generally are high yielding and winter hardy, while the ryegrass varieties are palatable with high sugar and protein content. Particular attention should be given to hybrid selection to ensure that your desired outcomes are met. There is a wide range of hybrids even within each hybrid segment depending on the characteristics and phenotypes which have been created.
From F. arundinacea: Very strong root system, high drought tolerance, high waterlogging tolerance and high tolerance to saline soil conditions.
From Lolium perenne: higher degree of persistence, rapid seedling establishment, strong winter activity and early spring growth and overall seasonal yield to meet livestock needs, high seed production potential, good resistance to crown and stem rust and net blotch and fusarium.
The first festulolium hybrids were listed in the USA and the UK already in the 1960s. The first hybrids used in agriculture were listed in the end of 1980’s and beginning of 1990’s in Germany, former Czechoslovakia and Poland.
Persistence is dependent on variety. A Perennial Ryegrass x Tall Fescue hybrid has potential to persist with proper hybrid selection. Most festuloliums are not to be considered a “permanent” forage grass species in Eastern Canada.
Pasture, hay, silage, stockpiled.
Optimal Time of Use
Spring, summer, fall, winter. Hay festulolium by early heading. Regrowth may be grazed or stockpiled. Festulolium can be continually or rotationally grazed. Enter at 25-30 cm (10-12 inches) and exit/leave at least 7.5 -10 cm (3-4 in) for substantial regrowth to occur. Basal leaf growth develops from new tillers throughout the season. Begins growing a little later than other grass- manage accordingly. Good for summer grazing or stockpiling for fall and early winter grazing as it maintains quality well after fall frosts and stands erect through light snowfall. Ideal haylage and silage stage is early boot stage.
Recovery After Use
Festulolium performs best under a rotational grazing system and should be grazed down to 7.5-10 cm (3 to 4 in) when plants reach a height of 25-30 cm (10 to 12 in).
Excellent palatability in vegetative stages. Hexaploid hybrids should exhibit higher sugar content.
Withstands 2-5 weeks of spring flooding and tolerates wet or waterlogged soil often spring through fall.
Fair to good tolerance depending on the variety. Winter is highly dependent onhybrid, snow cover conditions, drought, and breaks in dormancy.
Soil Texture Preference
Prefers deep, moist, silty to clayey soils.
Moderate erosion control.
Seeds per kg
499,400 seeds/kg (227,000 seeds/lb)
Grows well with tall growing legumes such as alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, red clover, and alsike clover. Consider seeding with meadow brome and a legume for pasture or stockpiled grazing.
Ease of Establishment
Festulolium is easy to establish due to its rapid germination and seedling vigor.
Once established, tall fescue hybrid festuloliums can be competitive.
Festulolium seeds should be planted at 25 to 35 lbs. per acre alone, or at 5 to 20 lbs. per acre if included in a combination with other species. Seeding depth is 1/4 inch. In general, 150 pounds of nitrogen per acre per year will be adequate to maintain a good stand of festulolium. The guideline is to apply 1/3 of the nitrogen in the spring with the balance evenly applied after each harvest or grazing period.
OMAFRA Publication 30: https://www.ontario.ca/files/2022-10/omafra-guide-to-forage-production-en-2022-10-19.pdf