The Alliance for Grassland Renewal, in collaboration with Virginia Tech’s Shenandoah Valley and Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Centers and Virginia Cooperative Extension, is hosting a workshop on educating farmers and landowners about converting pastures to novel endophyte tall fescue.

The workshop will cover the pasture conversion process, common misperceptions about these forage technologies, and how to determine whether switching to novel endophyte tall fescue will be a profitable decision for a farm.

The event is open to the public and registration can be found at this link.

Tall fescue dominates Virginia pastures. A fungus living inside this grass, called an endophyte, helps tall fescue persist through droughts and other stressful events.

However, this fungus often produces chemicals that impair the ability of livestock to regulate their body temperatures properly.

Scientists have developed new varieties of tall fescue containing novel endophytes. These novel endophytes help the grass persist, but do not produce chemicals that hurt livestock.

Utilizing these varieties of tall fescue can improve cow conception rates and increase calf weaning weights by around 50 pounds per calf.

Despite the benefits, few farmers have adopted these new technologies. Farmers worry about the cost of renovating pastures and often are unsure of how to manage the conversion process.

Virginia Tech scientists also conduct research across Virginia to determine the most effective ways to establish and utilize these novel tall fescue varieties. Extension agents and specialists host pasture walks, provide site-specific expertise to farmers, and publish informational articles on tall fescue.