In May, 160 producers turned out for two twilight tours offered by the University of Tennessee Center for Native Grasslands Management.

The tours, which were held at UT AgResearch and Education Centers in Middle Tennessee, featured tips on managing native grasses such as big bluestem, switchgrass, and eastern gamagrass in a livestock forage program.

“We were really pleased that so many farmers took the time to turn out for the events. They learned first-hand about our native grasses — just how well they can perform. They are highly drought tolerant, long lasting, warm-season perennials and can produce high yields of hay and excellent animal performance when grazed during the summer,” said Pat Keyser, director of the UT Center for Native Grasslands Management and coordinator for the events.

“Yields can measure from 4 to 6 tons per acre and steers can gain an average 1.1 to 2.6 pounds daily when grazing these grasses.”

Keyser says producers interested in learning more about native grasslands and pasture management have two more opportunities to attend the program.

Duplicate programs will be held in West Tennessee on June 21 in Grand Junction, at the Ames Plantation AgResearch and Education Center, and in east Tennessee on June 30, at the UT AgResearch and Education Center at Greeneville.

Topics listed

Tours at both locations will begin at 5:30 p.m. local time with a grilled steak supper. After a brief presentation, the group will tour the native grass pastures with the researchers, Extension specialists, and the Center staff managing the grazing projects. Topics to be discussed include:

• Establishing native grass forages;

• Grazing management;

• Hay production with native grasses;

• Integrating forage and biofuel production;

• Managing native grasses for forage and wildlife.

Keyser says there is no cost to attend a tour, but participants should register two weeks prior to the scheduled tour date. To register, please go online to, and click on the link for “Forage Tours” on the home page.

You may also register by e-mailing your name, affiliation (producer, business or agency name), and contact information (mailing address, phone, and if available, e-mail address) to or by calling 865-974-7346 and providing that same information.

You may register multiple individuals, but please provide the requested information for each.

Support for these tours has been generously provided by the NRCS through a Conservation Innovation Grant.

The UT Center for Grasslands Management is a program of the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries in the UT Institute of Agriculture. The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and public service through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers, and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.