Cocksfoot

(Dactylis glomerata)

The value of cocksfoot is its ability to persist and be productive in dry, moderately fertile, light and free-draining soils. As an endophyte-free pasture, it can be a good summer pasture for the grazing of sheep, cattle and dry stock (if managed to minimise seedhead development and maintain clover content). It is definitely an option to be considered in areas where ryegrass persistence is unachievable. Cocksfoot exhibits better drought tolerance and improved tolerance to acidic soils, compared with perennial ryegrass and tall fescue. It is best suited to areas of 600 mm+ rainfalls.

Cocksfoot is best sown into warm soils at up to 4 kg/ha as the sole grass with clover or 1-2 kg/ha in mixes with other grasses. It can be established with perennial ryegrass and phalaris, but is less suited to sowing with tall fescue. Cocksfoot is generally very pest tolerant, with pests having a lesser impact on cocksfoot than on perennial ryegrass. Resistance to stripe and stem rust varies with cultivar.

Available cocksfoot cultivars have varying flowering dates, tiller density and size, and winter growth potential. Denser types are more suited to the close and continuous grazing experienced with sheep. Later flowering types will hold quality longer into the spring. Summer dormant varieties will have an improved chance of persisting in summer dry environments.

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