MEADOW FESCUE. 79
It was introduced into North America, probably from England where its cultivation began about 182o.
Habitat: As indicated by its name, Meadow Fescue is a common grass in meadows in the Old World; it also grows naturally in waste places, along roadsides, railways and river banks.
Cultural conditions: It does especially well in soil rich in organic matter. It is well adapted to clay, although perhaps not so well as Orchard Grass, and it can be successfully grown on sandy land if sufficient moisture is available and the soil is not too shallow. It is better fitted for medium wet soil than is Orchard Grass, especially in a pasture, as it stands tramping better. On the other hand, on account of its rather deep root system, it is fairly resistant to drought. Generally speaking, Meadow Fescue will grow on almost any soil, provided it is reasonably moist and not too poor. As it stands cold remarkably well, it might be used to advantage in many parts of Canada.
Habits of growth: If sown with other grasses or with Red Clover, Meadow Fescue is rather slow in growth, reaching full development the second or third year after sowing. If sown alone, a good catch may be secured the first year. It keeps its yielding power for many seasons, especially when given a light top-dressing of manure once a year. It starts growth early and is ready to cut about the same time as Orchard Grass or a few days later.
Agricultural Value: Hay from Meadow Fescue is somewhat inferior to that from Orchard Grass. The nutritive value is highest when the grass is in flower and it should therefore be cut when in full bloom or a little earlier. If left until flowering is over, the stems get hard and woody, losing their nutritive value rapidly and becoming unpalatable. After cutting, the grass quickly recovers, giving a fair second growth, principally of leaves from the basal shoots. It is therefore valuable for summer and fall pasture, especially as it stands tramping well and does not get bunchy as does Orchard Grass.
Meadow Fescue is a fairly good milk producer but its chief value is for fattening cattle. It should not be used alone for driving horses as it is slightly laxative. Like Orchard Grass, it should be grown with other forage plants; with Red Clover and Timothy, for instance, it considerably increases the feeding value of the mixture. When sown alone for hay or pasture, forty to forty-five pounds of good seed should be used to the acre.