NOTE: The information in this Agnote must be read in conjunction with Introduction to selecting and using pastures in NSW, which covers information on areas of adaptation, sources of variability, species mixtures, and important issues related to animal health and the conservation of native vegetation.
Pasture type and use Perennial autumn/winter/spring growing suited to dryland and irrigated grazing. Also used for hay and silage.
Area of adaptation Northern, Central and Southern Tablelands; Central, Southern and Northern Slopes; irrigated areas and some limited coastal use.
Min. average annual rainfall >550 mm (southern NSW) to >600 mm (northern NSW).
  • Very persistent and drought-tolerant temperate perennial grass.
  • Competitive, robust plant capable of aiding in the control of many serious   weeds such as serrated tussock, St John’s wort, nodding thistle.
  • Vigorous sward habit useful for soil conservation purposes.
  • Some varieties tolerant of prolonged heavy grazing.
  • Good field tolerance to insects.
  • Makes best growth in autumn and spring, with limited growth in winter.
  • Tolerates wet soils, flooding and moderately saline soils.
  • Tends to be summer-dormant when temperatures exceed 30°C.
  • Is not productive when soil fertility is low or declining.
  • Is not suited to very acid soils (establishment on soil pH(Ca) below 5.0 is   not as reliable as cocksfoot, fescue or ryegrass).
  • Requires good grazing management to maintain grass–legume balance and feed   quality.
  • Potential to cause phalaris poisoning.
Soil requirements It is best suited to high-fertility, deep, heavy-textured soils, but soil type, soil depth and grazing management become more critical as rainfall decreases. Phalaris will grow on a wide range of soils, from moderately shallow, moderately acidic, sedimentary soils to deep, self-mulching, alkaline clays.
Varieties Select varieties on the basis of plant type, need for summer dormancy, seedling vigour, phalaris poisoning potential, acid soil tolerance and local performance data (where available).
  • Prostrate, semi winter-dormant, low summer   dormancy:
    Grasslands Maru
    Australian II *
  • Semi-erect to erect, winter-active, low summer   dormancy:
    Holdfast * -   improved acid soil tolerance.
    Landmaster * -   improved acid soil tolerance.
  • Erect, winter-active, medium to high summer   dormancy:
    Atlas PG *

* Denotes that this   variety is protected by Plant Breeder’s Rights.

Sowing rates: 
- as only species 3–5 kg/ha
- in mixtures 1–3 kg/ha
Sowing time Autumn/early winter (March to June). At higher-altitude high-rainfall tableland districts, spring sowings (August to September) can also be successful.
Companion species Legumes (white, red and subterranean clovers, lucerne, lotus) and other temperate grasses (fescue, cocksfoot, ryegrass).
Inoculation N/A
Major nutrient deficiencies Nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur.
Main insect pests Phalaris pastures are sometimes seriously damaged by blue oat mite, redlegged earth mite, field crickets, pasture scarabs, slugs and snails.
Main diseases Disease rarely causes problems in established phalaris paddocks.
Management Grazing management is important for satisfactory production and persistence, as well as to maintain legume content of the pasture.

As a general guide, the seasonal strategies outlined below can be used to   enhance production and persistence. Where conditions do not permit guidelines to   be followed, use the principles as far as is practical in your circumstances,   e.g. a 3–4 week rest (rather than 6 weeks) from grazing following the autumn   break is better than no rest at all.

Summer: In cooler elevated areas, maintain grazing (to about   1200 kg DM/ha (dry matter per hectare)) or slash to promote autumn regrowth and   clover regeneration. In ‘summer dry’ environments, some carryover stubble is   considered useful. In hotter areas with more erratic rainfall, more carryover   feed (e.g. 1500 kg DM/ha) with flowering stems prevents regeneration buds from   shooting. Towards the end of summer, where soil erosion is not likely to be a   problem, aim at 10–15% of bare ground, to assist establishment of annual legumes. Phalaris leaf litter can adversely affect establishment of sub   clover.

Autumn: Rest until regrowth allows grazing   (about 6 weeks and around 1500 kg DM/ha), and apply moderate grazing pressure   once clover is established. (Avoid grazing below   1200 kg DM/ha.)

Winter: Rotational grazing beneficial,   especially in southern NSW. (Maintain feed above 800–1000 kg DM/ha where   possible.) If set stocking through winter, do not graze as hard (e.g. above   1000–1200 kg DM/ha) as far as is practical.

Spring: Avoid repeated or continuous heavy grazing or cutting, particularly with the winter-active types once the first node can be felt at the base of the stems   through to seed head emergence (limit regrowth to less than   3000 kg DM/ha).

Livestock disorders of particular   note Sometimes phalaris staggers; occasionally phalaris sudden death syndrome.
Additional tips Establishment problems are often encountered, frequently associated with slow early growth. Weed competition, sowing depth, sowing time and soil nutrition are particularly important.
Further information
  • Agfact P2.5.1 Phalaris pastures.
  • Agnote DPI-234 New pasture grass and legume varieties.

More information


Advice on livestock health disorders was provided by Dr Chris   Bourke, Principal Research Scientist, NSW Agriculture, Orange. His contribution   is gratefully acknowledged.

Photo: Clare Edwards, NSW Agriculture, Armidale