With the development of the Rhizomatous tall fescue (RTF), Barenbrug’s research group identified three distinctly different tall fescue morphotypes: Continental, Rhizomatous, and Mediterranean.  Of these three groups, the Continental-types are by far the most common. Evolving north of the Alps and Pyrenees mountains, Continental-types have been the mainstay of turf-type tall fescue breeding and production since the introduction of Rebel some 30-plus years ago. Named varieties of Continental-type tall fescue now number in the hundreds and are used throughout the world.

The least developed of these three groups would be the Mediterranean-types and these would be for forage only. Very different from both the Continental and RTF groups, the ancestry of Mediterranean-types features species completely different from the two.

The RTF Group is distinguished by the presence of longer and higher numbers of rhizomes than found in either the Continental or Mediterranean. Studies have shown RTF plants to produce as many as 20 times the number of rhizomes than Continental tall fescue and continue to aggressively form them in turf. Evolving independently on the northern Ibernian peninsula, RTF plants form an extensive root system and have also been found to be significantly more drought tolerant than Continental-types in turf. When digging deeper into RTF plants, they are shown to exhibit endophyte, physical plant characteristics, plant physiology, and plant distribution distinctly different from the Continental Group. All indications would seem to point to a completely different ancestry.

At Barenbrug, we’re continuing our developmental work with RTF and are currently producing seed from a 4th generation RTF variety.  Moving forward we continue to find it a very unique and different group of tall fescues with significant advantages over traditional turf-types. In turf, we find a more extensive root system, dependable strong rhizome production, early spring green up, and great uniformity, It’s in the genes!

ATS offers RTF in Barenbrug’s professional quality Turf Saver RTF brand, featuring 40% RTF varieties and 60% improved turf-types Turf Saver.  We also invite you to go online and take a look at our video examining rhizome production in tall fescue. It is a great way of seeing what we see every day, real rhizome production and value, not just ‘rhizome potential’.