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Meadow fescue

Meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis Huds.) is a fodder crop related to perennial cereal grasses.

Meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis)
Meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis)
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©Stefan.lefnaer (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Economic importance

Meadow fescue allows you to get good quality forage. It is widely used in field and meadow grass sowing. In terms of prevalence in the Non-Chernozem and Forest-Steppe zones of Russia, it ranks second after meadow timothy grass.

It is well eaten by farm animals. Allows you to get 2 cuts for hay or up to 5 grazing cycles for pasture, provided that the soil is sufficiently moist. Grows quickly after mowing and grazing. In one place it can grow 6-8 years.

In the flowering phase, 100 kg of green mass contains 26.3 feed units and 2.2 kg of digestible protein. 100 kg of hay – 55.0 feed units and 4.0 kg of digestible protein.

It is usually cultivated in field and fodder crop rotations of the Non-Chernozem zone in grass mixtures with red clover and in areas with sufficient moisture in the North Caucasus and the Central Black Earth zone in a mixture with alfalfa and sainfoin.

Crop history

It was introduced into culture in the 19th century.

Cultivation areas

It is cultivated in the forest-steppe regions of the European part of Russia, in the central regions of the Non-Chernozem zone and in Siberia.


The yield of hay is usually 4.5-5.0 t/ha, seeds – 200-700 kg/ha. The highest yield is obtained at 3 years of age.

With the right agricultural technology, the seed yield of meadow fescue is 500-700 kg/ha (Krasnaya Baltika state farm, Leningrad region).

Botanical description

The genus includes 20 species. Meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis Huds.) is widespread in agricultural production. Also, for the creation of lawns, varieties of the red fescue species (Festuca rubra) are included in the State Register.

The root system is powerful, fibrous. By the panicling phase, the roots penetrate the soil to a depth of 80 cm, by the end of the second year of life – up to 160 cm.

Stems erect, smooth, well leafy, short vegetative shoots predominate. Plant height from 75 to 140 cm.

The leaves are long, shiny on the underside, rough along the edges.

Inflorescence – panicle. The flowers are small, planted on spikes.

The fruits are relatively large, membranous, light gray, oblong in shape. Weight of 1000 seeds 1.6-2.0 g.

Biological features

It is distinguished by high winter hardiness, somewhat inferior to rump . More drought tolerant than Timothy grass. It is moderately demanding on moisture, withstands drought and elevated temperatures, but gives high yields with sufficient moisture.

Demanding on soils, grows well on humus-rich loose, loamy, clay and peaty soils. Sandy soils poor in nitrogen are of little use.

Tolerates flooding for up to 25 days.

Plant nutrition

For the formation of 1 ton of hay, meadow fescue removes from the soil 14-15 kg N, 8-10 kg P2O5, 24-27 kg K2O.


In the first year of life, meadow fescue forms only vegetative shoots. At the beginning of life, intensive tillering is characterized, which decreases with age. In the first year, it can give one cut and a good aftermath. With coverless sowing, full development occurs in the second year of life, with cover and mixed with other types of herbs – in the third year of life. Flowering occurs in early June, the seeds ripen in the first half of July.

Type of development – winter.


Meadow fescue is usually sown in a mixture with red clover, alfalfa, or sainfoin. Agrotechnology is the same as for the listed herbs.

In a mixture with legumes, the seeding rate is 8-12 kg/ha. Sowing time – in the spring under the cover of annual grasses or grain crops. Under the cover of winter cereals, a mixture of fescue with clover or alfalfa is sown in early spring across the cover crop rows using grain-grass seeders.

Sowing depth 2-3 cm.

When sowing in its pure form, for example, in order to obtain seeds, fescue is sown in wide-row or ordinary row methods. With the wide-row method, the seeding rate is 7-9 kg/ha, with the usual row method – 15-16 kg/ha.

Crop care is the same as for meadow timothy grass. Harvesting for hay is started at the beginning of the heading phase.

When ripe, the seeds of meadow fescue crumble easily, so harvesting for seeds begins in the phase of wax ripeness. Harvesting is carried out by direct combining. The seed heap from under the combine is passed through grain cleaning machines, dried to a moisture content of 14-15% and stored for long-term storage.


Crop production / P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko, V.S. Kuznetsov and others; Ed. P.P. Vavilov. – 5th ed., revised. and additional – M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. – 512 p.: ill. – (Textbook and textbooks for higher educational institutions).

V.V. Kolomeichenko. Crop production / Textbook. — M.: Agrobusinesscenter, 2007. — 600 p. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Agriculture and crop production. Ed. V.S. Niklyaev. – M .: “Epic”, 2000. – 555 p.