SUMMARY – BC Forage Council Fraser Valley Cultivar Trials 2004 & 2005

In 2003, 11 cultivars of tall fescue, 17 cultivars of orchardgrass and 10 cultivars of perennial ryegrass were planted in locations in Agassiz, Chilliwack and Sumas (Abbotsford) B.C.

In 2004, the Alpine cultivar of orchardgrass in the Chilliwack and Sumas sites was considerably winterkilled, and two cultivars of perennial ryegrass, Aries and PSGG-9-04 at the Sumas site demonstrated a susceptibility to winter kill. No doubt the extremely cold winter experienced in the Fraser Valley contributed to the winter kill. However, low temperatures are not the only cause of winter kill; wet soils, a high water table, lack of snow cover, and desiccation also contribute to grass injury over winter and these factors may explain why the same extent of winterkill was not observed across all sites. Although the grass survived the hot, dry summer of 2004, the conditions appeared to reduce yields for perennial ryegrass and to a certain extent, tall fescue. Tall fescue was reseeded in Chilliwack at the Rutley farm and established well.

The winter of 2004/2005 saw flooding and icing of fields throughout the Fraser Valley. Although the amount of precipitation was not abnormally high, rain falling on frozen ground was not able to drain and later froze as temperatures dropped. After the cold snap, there was an early spring in 2005 and grass began to grow in February. No winterkill was observed, and plots that had experienced winterkill prior to the 2004 harvests had recovered sufficiently to obtain initial harvests. Plots that had suffered from winterkill in 2004 had a tendency to be exploited by volunteer grasses throughout the year. By the third cut, Alpine orchardgrass plots in Chilliwack and PSGG-9-04 perennial ryegrass plots in Sumas had to be discarded. The Rutley tall fescue plots were used instead of teh Hylkema tall fescue plots (which had a weak establishment) to record tall fescue data from Chilliwack. Although there was moisture in spring and early summer, the late summer and early fall was dry. Perennial ryegrass suffered especially and only three harvests were conducted at the Chilliwack and Sumas locations due to the stunted growth of the perennial ryegrass in summer and early fall. PSGG-9-04 and Tetrylyte II appeared to be particularly affected at the Chilliwack and Sumas sites from the hot spell. Tall fescue and orchardgrass also suffered somewhat from the dry spell and harvests that normally could be expected for late August or September were postponed until later in the year. Therefore a maximum of only four cuts were taken.

Listed below are grass cultivars that significantly (alpha = 0.05) out-yielded check cultivars in harvests compiled from 2004 and 2005.

    • Orchardgrass
      Agassiz: FSOG-1AM
      Chilliwack: Century, FSOG-1E, MALL, OG9703, PSOG-9201
      Sumas: EALL, FSOG-1E, LALL, MALL
    • Perennial Ryegrass
      Agassiz: Tetrylyte II
      Chilliwack: none
      Sumas: none
    • Tall Fescue
      Agassiz: Carmine, Hykor, Kora, Stockman, Tuscany
      Chilliwack: none
      Sumas: Carmine

Special thanks is owing to Dr. Shabtai Bittman and the forage crew of PARC, Agassiz for providing expertise, equipment, laboratory facilities, storage, land and assistance.

Special thanks is owing to the producers for providing land and assistance:

  • John Hylkema, Chilliwack
  • Doug Rutley, Chilliwack
  • Louis Schurmann, Sumas

Thanks to the funding partners: BC Investment Agriculture Foundation and the Beef Cattle Industry Development Fund as well as the many seed companies which entered cultivars for testing.