Olympia Offers Improved Orchardgrass Persistence and Durability
Olympia Orchardgrass is a tall-growing, cool-season perennial bunchgrass that begins growth early in the spring and flowers in April and May. Fall growth is somewhat less than tall fescue, but with added fertility can approach that of tall fescue. It is compatible with many legumes (alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, red and white clovers) and other grasses (perennial ryegrass, tall fescue). Orchardgrass is highly palatable and makes excellent quality hay and grazing. It can be used to overseed toxic fescue pastures to dilute the amount of toxins ingested and reduce the effects of fescue toxicosis in grazing animals.
Under traditional haying conditions, stands can be expected to last for several years. However, orchardgrass is not known for its persistence or toughness under grazing conditions. With Olympia, persistence and durability is significantly improved.
Type: cool season perennial grass; medium-late maturity
Adaptation: Best suited to moderately well-drained to excessively drained soils
and does well in mixtures with legumes such as alfalfa, red and white clover.
Orchardgrass will not tolerate wet soils or prolonged flooding. Orchardgrass is
tolerant of shade and more tolerant of heat and drought than perennial rye-
grass, timothy, or Kentucky bluegrass, but less so than tall fescue.
Uses: Olympia orchardgrass can be grown for hay, green chop, silage, and pas-
ture. Olympia combines superior grazing tolerance with outstanding forage
yield. It is compatible with many legumes (alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, red and
white clovers) and other grasses (perennial ryegrass, tall fescue). Pure stands or
simple mixtures (one grass and one legume) are easiest to manage.
Nutrition: With good management practices, orchardgrass can produce crude protein levels of 12 – 18%; Total Digestible Nutrients ranging from 65 – 68%. Results depend largely on maturity stage at harvest and fertility.
Rate: 15-20 lbs/acre drilled or broadcast.
Date: August 15 – October 15; February 15 – April 15. Fall plantings are generally more successful than spring plantings particularly in the southern areas of adaptation.
Depth: ¼ - ½ inch into a firm seedbed; a presswheel, cultipacker, or other soil-firming device will increase success.