Tall and Golden Oat Grass: Few New Good Varieties

Tall oat grass and golden oat grass are typical hay-meadow grasses that are also suitable for forage mixtures. Of the four tall and three golden oat grass varieties tested, only one new variety of tall oat grass is likely to make it onto the List of Recommended Varieties.

Tall oat grass (Arrhenatherum elatius L.) is a tall-growing hay-meadow grass. For perennial stands, it requires low-intensity management with 2–3 uses per year. With more-intensively used forage mixtures such as the standard mixture 301, persistence is limited to around three years.

What tall oat grass is to the Swiss Central Plateau, golden oat grass (Trisetum flavescens L.) is to higher altitudes. It too is used mostly for haymaking, and it is only thus that it can survive in the long term. Golden oat grass contains calcitriol, which causes symptoms of calcinosis in animals when consumed in greater quantities. It is therefore grown together with other forage plants to keep it under the recommended maximum limit of 15% in the stand. In addition, when used as hay the plants contain the lowest amounts of calcitriol. In the standard mixture 431 for intensive use, golden oat grass is present in only modest amounts, thus functioning as a companion species.

Variety testing with tall oat grass and golden oat grass: Field trials in plots form the basis for variety recommendations. (Photo: Daniel Suter, Agroscope)

Varieties tested in the field

The suitability for cultivation of four varieties of tall oat grass and three of golden oat grass was tested over three years at five sites on the Swiss Central Plateau and two sites at higher altitudes. Yield, vigour (lushness, density and evenness of the plant stand), juvenile development, competitive ability, persistence, winter-hardiness, resistance to leaf diseases, digestible organic matter content and – in the case of golden oat grass – suitability for cultivation at higher altitudes were assessed on small plots.

Ray of hope for tall oat grass

Of all the tested varieties of tall oat grass, ‘DLF AEL-18015’ performed the best, beating the two already recommended varieties ‘Arone’ and ‘Median’. Despite its particularly impressive yield, vigour, persistence and competitive ability, however, it failed to gain the edge over the already recommended varieties required for a recommendation. Since the supply of quality varieties of tall oat grass is highly uncertain with just two recommended varieties, however, ‘DLF AEL-18015’ will be added to the ‘List of Recommended Varieties of Forage Plants’ as soon as it passes the pending admission test (conducted in its country of origin, the Czech Republic) necessary for marketing authorisation.

Dead-end for golden oat grass

The single new golden oat grass cultivar ‘Polom’ failed to impress, lagging far behind the two already recommended varieties ‘Trisett 51’ and ‘Guther’. It therefore cannot be recommended. The two already recommended varieties remain on the List.     

Variety recommendations from Agroscope

Agroscope regularly tests varieties to provide the Swiss agricultural sector with up-to-date and reliable recommendations. The continually updated ‘List of Recommended Varieties of Forage Plants’ forms the basis for developing the best seed mixtures, and is an essential guide for the Swiss seed sector, ensuring that advances in breeding are made available to practice as soon as possible.


  • Tall and golden oat grass are hay-meadow grasses for low-to-medium-input forage production.
  • Between 2019 and 2021, Agroscope tested a total of four varieties of tall and three varieties of golden oat grass.
  • The new tall oat grass cultivar ‘DLF AEL-18015’ delivered top performances for nearly all traits, and is slated for recommendation on condition of its registration.
  • The single new golden oat grass cultivar tested, ‘Polom’, failed to impress, and will therefore not be recommended.
  • All of the already recommended varieties of both species will retain their recommendation.
  • The use of recommended varieties enables the best-possible forage mixtures for Swiss conditions and brings breeding advances to practitioners, which is of direct benefit for our agricultural sector.

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