Agronomy Library > Soil Conservation

Creeping Red Fescue Removal in A Direct Seeding System - The Peace Region - Direct Seeding Advantage 2004
Author: Nick Underwood
Date Created: November 23, 2004
Last Reviewed: February 27, 2007

 Background 
There could have been as many as 280,000 acres of CRF in the ground at harvest 2001. The acreage does fluctuate with the markets and, as with all crops, producers are looking for ways to cut costs and produce CRF more efficiently.

Between one quarter and one third of CRF acreage would be taken out of production each year because it is sod bound, and will not produce more seed. This is based on one “clip year” and one or two full production years. A portion of that (affected by market influence) would be rejuvenated (i.e. ploughed and encouraged to grow back after a break of one year). It is not unreasonable to assume that between 60,000 and 90,000 acres are removed from CRF production each year, with the intention of returning to annual cropping. Traditionally the CRF has been removed with a combination of expensive field operations starting with moldboard ploughing. Usually this involves a fallow year. Many CRF farmers have sprayed glyphosate at one litre, before ploughing, in order to control any quack grass, or other perennial weeds that became established in the CRF. The CRF seed harvest is usually in August, a good time for controlling perennials. 

CRF is a perennial with a very narrow leaf on which there is a waxy cuticle. Conventional glyphosate at one litre per acre does a poor job of controlling CRF. The crop may be ‘browned off’ but it will grow back new leaves as soon as growing conditions permit. 

Many CRF growers have believed that they cannot be reduced tillers if they are growing fescue. That thinking is changing as some direct seeders are growing CRF and seeding into the sod after it has been sprayed with glyphosate. Sometimes the results are less than satisfactory. The right conditions are necessary, and timing is critical. That is also true for CRF removal by cultivation. If conditions are very dry, then fescue becomes harder to kill with glyphosate because the uptake and translocation is poor. When the glyphosate is applied after seed harvest the fescue needs to have healthy growing leaves, preferably eight or so inches long. The weather conditions are important. Avoid spraying close to a late summer frost.

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