Four Steps That Will Help Your Fescue Thrive
Most farms in Polk County have Kentucky 31 Fescue as their primary grass. This is a great grass for your animals–even with its endophyte issues. If you do a lot of breeding you may want to consider other grasses or keep your animals off the grass while in gestation, but overall it’s the best grass for our area. When managed properly, it is tough and can resist the stresses of the Polk County climate–providing you with persistent forage.
The question is how to manage fescue so that it will thrive in your field for many years. The first step is to plant in the fall. Cool season grasses grow best during times of cooler soil and air temperatures. The next important tip is never to mow or graze your K31 fescue below 4 inches tall. For the grass to mature and maintain deep roots, it must be allowed to grow tall. This will require effort on your part; moving your animals when an area is getting low, for instance, and resisting the temptation to mow your pastures like a golf course.
The next step is to apply fertilizers at the proper time. For our area, this means in late February and again in mid-September. If you choose to only fertilize once per year, choose the fall application. Also, conduct a soil test to see if your pH level indicates that you need to apply lime. If you don’t plan on soil testing, apply 10 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 1000 square feet of lawn space or 6 pounds of 17-17-17. This will get your lawn off to a good start. Note: anytime you apply a fertilizer with phosphorus in it, you should first aerate your yard so that the nutrient gets into the ground. The last task toward a beautiful fescue lawn or pasture will be to spray for unwanted or toxic broadleaf weeds. While there are many sprays available, most people in our area choose to utilize Crossbow or Grazonnext.