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Tower Summer Active Tall Fescue


Festuca arundinacea

Dairy, beef and sheep. Long-term feed production. Temperate, high rainfall zones.

A tall fescue with the unique combination of high feed quality, easy management and proven persistence

  • Excellent persistence
  • Fast regrowth in all seasons
  • Very late heading date
  • High feed quality and ease of management
  • Strong persistence
  • High total production
  • Protek™ Endophyte
  • Heading date very late
Seed Agronomy Table
Heading Date Very Late
Maturity Late
Life Span 10 + years
Seeding Rate - Dryland (kg/ha) 15 - 20
Seeding Rate - High Rainfall/Irrigation (kg/ha) 30
Hard Seed Level 1 = Least Hard 10 = Most Hard • Burr Burial Strength 1 = Very Weak 10 = Very Strong
Establishment Guarantee

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  • N.E.


  • Deep rooted perennial
  • Adapted to a wide range of soil types
  • Tolerant of wet/poorly drained soils
  • Provides good year-round production of quality feed
  • Does not frost off in winter as readily as phalaris and cocksfoot


  • Relatively slow to establish
  • Heavy grazing, particularly during late spring/summer may reduce persistence particularly in drier marginal areas
  • Temperate types need significant summer rainfall or irrigation to maintain high production and persistence
  • May cause animal health problem known as ‘Fescue Foot’

Plant Description
  • A deep rooted, tufted, largely hairless perennial, with erect, unbranched tillers arising from deep underground rhizomes (horizontal stems). It can grow to 2 metres tall at flowering.

  • Numerous dark green basal leaves, 4 to 15 millimetre wide and 10 to 60 centimetres long. Leaves are rolled in bud, becoming flat and tapered at the end. The upper leaf surface is dull and the lower leaf surface is smooth glossy with the leaf edges rough to touch.

  • The seedhead is a loosely branching panicle, 10 to 30 centimetres long.

  • The seedhead is a loosely branching panicle, 10 to 30 centimetres long.

  • The seed is about the size and shape of ryegrass, with 420,000 to 500,000 seeds per kilogram.

Pasture Type and Use

Tall fescue is principally sown in permanent pastures for cattle and sheep grazing.


Greater than 650 millimetres for the spring summer active types preferably with summer rain less than 450 millimetres for summer dormant (winter-active) varieties.


Grows across a wide range of soil types from sandy to heavy clay soils. Tall fescue tolerates wet soils and short periods of flooding, but also has moderate drought tolerance. Tall fescue can tolerate soil acidity below pH Ca 4.8, and moderately high levels of soil aluminium (up to 20 per cent of CEC). However, it is most productive when soil pH Ca is 5.0 to 6.5. On the more acid soils with high levels of exchangeable aluminium liming may be required. It can also tolerate moderately saline soils (greater than 8 dS per metre(ECe).


Tall fescue is a cool season grass and is suited to areas with mild to warm summers and cool to mild winters. It is more tolerant of frost in early winter than cocksfoot and phalaris.

  • Cocksfoot, phalaris, ryegrass

  • Subterranean, red and white clovers, lotus, lucerne.

  • 3 to 10 kilograms per hectare. If using a more vigorous grass species such as perennial ryegrass a seeding rate of less than 2 kilogram per hectare of ryegrass is preferred.

  • 6 to 15 kilograms per hectare.

  • The best time to sow tall fescue is in autumn to early winter (March - June) when soil moisture is adequate. In high altitude, high rainfall areas, spring sowing (September) can also be successful.

  • At sowing, a compound or starter fertiliser (containing nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur) should be used. If applying fertiliser with seed, nitrogen rates should not exceed 20 kilograms N per hectare.

  • Phosphorus and sulphur are the major nutrients of concern particularly to promote good clover growth, and hence adequate nitrogen for the grass. Annual applications of these nutrients will depend on soil nutrient levels. At moderate stocking rates of 5 to 7 DSE per hectare, a maintenance dressing of 125 kilograms per hectare of single superphosphate is often adequate. If tall fescue is not sown with a legume, nitrogen fertiliser will be required. Deficiencies of molybdenum and other trace elements should be corrected.

  • Most tall fescue cultivars exhibit poor seedling vigour, resulting in slow establishment. Grazing management during the first 12 months after sowing is particularly important to ensure a satisfactory plant population. Establishing stands of tall fescue should only be grazed when the root system is well developed and will not be pulled out of the ground. Once established, the pasture should be kept within the ‘active growth’ phase to maximise pasture growth rates and feed quality, allow rapid post-grazing recovery, and encourage companion legumes. During autumn and winter (nonreproductive phase) tall fescue should be grazed in the range of 5 to 15 centimetres. In spring (reproductive phase), tall fescue should be grazed in the range of 3 to 10 centimetres (when pasture mass reaches around 2 to 3 tonne DM per hectare) to prevent stem development and optimize palatability. Such intensive grazing means that the grazing rotation needs to be reduced to 12 to 14 days during spring.

  • Will regenerate from seed, but has poor seedling vigour. Is able to spread slowly vegetatively by short rhizomes.

  • Low weed potential.

  • Tall fescue can be attacked by pasture scarabs (but is more tolerant than most other temperate grasses), red legged earth mites, blue oat mites, field crickets, slugs and snails.

  • Leaf diseases (e.g. rust, blights) occasionally occur on tall fescue, particularly in humid summer conditions.

  • Herbicides are available to selectively control broadleaf weeds. Generally applied after first leaf stage.

Animal Production
  • Tall fescue has a high nutritive value comparing favourably to perennial ryegrass and phalaris. Digestibility ranges from 60 to 80 per cent DMD, metabolisble energy from 8.5 to 11.5 megajoules and crude protein from 7.5 to 25 per cent.

  • Palatable.

  • Valuable feed for maintenance, growing and finishing livestock provided management maintains pasture in vegetative phase and adequate clover.

  • Sporadic reports of ‘fescue foot’ in stock grazing tall fescue dominant pasture. Symptoms include heat stress, severe lameness, reduced feed intake and poor weight gains. Fescue foot is caused by a toxin ‘ergovaline’ produced by a fungus (endophyte) associated with tall fescue plants. This condition is not common as current cultivars either have no or very low levels of endophyte.

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