FESTUCA FLEXIBLE FCAR
Festuca artindinacea is a perennial forage grass with a Festucoid-type growth habit; it is widely grown and used due to its outstanding agronomical characteristics, adaptability, and high forage yield under a wide range of environmental and management conditions.
Its branched, extensive deep root system gives this species resistance to drought and greater soil-building efficiency.
The high genetic variability, readiness for cloning, good seed production, and longevity of this species facilitate genotype conservation and management of the breeding material.
In 1970, the Department of Forages at the College of Agricultural Sciences started a plan for the improvement of tall fescue, under the direction of the Agricultural Engineer Hugo L. Müller. The objectives of the project were to achieve higher digestibility and rate of consumption, good winter production, and late development of spikelets arranged in bunches.
In 1965, Gillet and Jadas-Hecait referred to “leaf flexibility” as an indicator of forage quality in tall fescue. They classified leaf blades from very rigid to very flexible by running their hands through the foliage. The degrees of flexibility were not closely associated to chemical quality indicators (lignin, crude fiber, ashes, silicon, calcium), but they were positively correlated with palatability.
The initial selection was carried out in July and august 1970, in pasture fields in some areas of the Province of Santa Fe (Chabás, Venado Tuerto, Santa Isabel, Murphy ), and the Province of Entre Ríos (Victoria, Gualeguay, and Paraná).
The initial selection consisted of 3,600 vigorous plants (in terms of tiller density) which had been grazed (showing cattle preference), and which presented good regrowth and flexible leaves. Three clones were obtained from each of the selected plants, and they were planted in the “J. F. Villarino” Experimental Field at our College.
Qualitative observations were carried out in subsequent years, recording leaf flexibility, regrowth rate, tiller density, date and uniformity of flowering, seed production, and resistance to pests and unfavourable weather conditions.
The best 25 plants were selected and planted in a balanced 5×5 plot design in 1974-75. Later, 3 of the selected plants were discarded and the first plot of “Flexible” FCA fescue was sown with seed from the remaining 22.
Starting in 1977, the cultivar was subjected to comparative assays at different Experimental Sations (INTA Concepción del Uruguay, Rafaela, Pergamino, and Oliveros).
In 1992, it was registered at the National Registry of Cultivars Property under the name of “Flexible FCAR”.