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John H. Fike

Associate Professor
John Fike
185 Ag Quad Lane
365 Smyth Hall
Blacksburg, VA



  • Ph.D., Ruminant Nutrition, University of Florida, 1999
    Dissertation: Grazing systems and management strategies for lactating Holstein cows in Florida
  • M.S., Forage Agronomy, Virginia Tech, 1995
    Thesis: Influence of seaweed extract and other plant growth regulators on growth, persistence, and quality of tall fescue and their potential to alleviate tall fescue toxicity to livestock
  • B.S., Science Education, Wake Forest University, 1988


I work with an interdisciplinary group of crop, livestock, and forest scientists to understand the production implications of silvopasture management. This includes study of tree-forage-livestock interactions and the implications of silvopasture management for animal production and welfare.

Industrial Hemp

Given that hemp has only recently been legal for research and production, much effort is needed to determine which varieties and crop management practices are best suited to Virginia’s diverse environments.  In addition to work with other crop scientists, I work with weed scientist, plant pathology, and entomology colleagues to better understand important pests and their control in hemp cropping systems. Future work will explore how production practices affect crop quality and how hemp can be used as a feed resource for animal production systems.

Associate Professor | 2006 - Present
Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech

Assistant Professor | 2000 - 2006
Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech

Professional Activities and Societies

  • Agroforestry Systems – Associate Editor
  • American Society of Agronomy
  • Crop Science Society of America
  • Hemp’s feed and forage potential. John Lee Pratt Animal Nutrition Program. 2017-2020. $89,000. Fike, Wilkinson, Wilson.
  • The nutritional suitability of native warm-season grasses for equine. John Lee Pratt Animal Nutrition Program. 2017-2020. $155,000. McIntosh, Fike, McKenzie, Tracy.
  • Demonstrating conversion of wildtype to novel endophyte fescue pastures for greater livestock performance and better environmental outcomes. VA NRCS. 2016-2019. $74,898. Fike, Pent.
  • Determining scale characteristics of silvopasture in the US South. US Forest Service. 2016-2017. $29,938. Fike, Munsell.
  • Virginia hemp trials. Virginia Dept. Ag. and Consumer Services. 2016-2017. $35,000. Fike.
  • Young scholar enhancement grant. USDA-SARE. 2016. $3500. Fike.
  • Managing toxic tall fescue with alternative legumes. John Lee Pratt Animal Nutrition Program. 2015-2017. $92,220. Tracy, Fike, Xia.
  • Acoustic analysis: A novel way to measure livestock grazing behavior. Southern SARE. 2015. $10,981. Pent, Fike.
  • Capacity building for agricultural education and research in Senegal. U.S. Agency for International Development (through OIRED). 2014-2016. $483,000. Thompson, Thomason, Galbraith, Fike, Badgley, Tracy, Eick, Evanylo.
  • Assessing the impact of forage conservation method on ergovaline levels in tall fescue and subsequent performance of steers. CALS Capacity Building Grants. 2014-2016. $50,000. Campbell, Teutsch, Fike.
  • Made in the shade – using silvopasture research and on-farm demonstrations to advance these sustainable agroforestry systems. Southern SARE. 2014-2016. $190,000. Fike et al.

2016 | Drs. John and Shirley Gerken Professional Development Award for extension and outreach


As Virginia’s State Forage Specialist, I work with agents and producers to improve the productivity, profitability and environmental quality of forage-livestock systems in Virginia, largely through efforts with the Graze 300 program, tall fescue management, and silvopasture systems implementation.

Graze 300 Virginia helps producers achieve 300 days of grazing and documents the benefits. This target is considered the economic optimum across the combination of high and low cattle and feed prices. More information on Graze 300 Virginia can be found here:

Successful tall fescue management involves mitigating the negative effects of toxic fescue or replacing this forage. Mitigation involves appropriate fertilization and grazing management and incorporating other forages into livestock systems. Replacement involves helping producers switch to better forages. 

Silvopastures, the intentional integration of trees and pasture systems, is a new idea for many Virginia producers. Silvopasture systems offer opportunity to increase outputs, diversify production and income streams, and to improve economic and environmental outcomes. More information can be found here:

Industrial hemp

Past efforts with bioenergy production led to an interesting career turn. Many of the issues relevant to bioenergy – e.g., how do industries advance without processors or markets? – are also relevant to industrial hemp.  I work with colleagues and industry to help develop and disseminate information on suitable agronomic management practices for feed, fiber and flower hemp production in Virginia. General information about hemp can be found here:

Book Chapters

  1. Pent, G. J., J. H. Fike, J. N. Orefice, S. H. Sharrow, D. Brauer, T. R. Clasen. 201X. Silvopastoral Practices. In Gold et al. (ed.) North American Agroforestry: An Integrated Science and Practice, 3rd ed. American Society of Agronomy. Madison, WI. In Review.
  2. Fike, J.H. Hemp: History of an ancient crop for a modern era. 201X. In D. Williams (ed). Hemp. Industrial Hemp as a Modern Commodity Crop. ASA, CSSA, SSSA, Madison, WI. Accepted.

Refereed Journal Articles

  1. Pent, G. J. & Fike, J. H. 2018. Stockpiled forages and lamb productivity during the winter months in silvopastures. Agroforestry Systems. doi:10.1007/s10457-018-0264-0
  2. 1Pent, G.J, J.H. Fike, I. Kim. 2018. Ewe lamb body temperatures in hardwood silvopastures. Agrofor. Syst. DOI 10.1007/s10457-018-0221-y. Available on line.
  3. 1Fannon, A.G., J.H. Fike, S.P. Greiner, C.M. Feldhake, M.A. Wahlberg. 2017. Hair sheep performance in a mid-stage deciduous Appalachian silvopasture. Agrofor. Syst. DOI 10.1007/s10457-017-0154-x. Available on line.
  4. Lee, D. K., E. Aberle, E. K. Anderson et al. 2017. Biomass production of herbaceous energy crops in the united states: field trial results and yield potential maps from the multiyear Regional Feedstock Partnership. Global Change Biology Bioenergy. 10:698-716.
  5. Fike, J. H., J. A. Pease, V. N. Owens, R. L. Farris, J. L. Hansen, E. A. Heaton, H. S. Mayton, R. B. Mitchell, D. R. Viands. 2017. Switchgrass nitrogen response and cost of production on diverse sites. Global Change Biology Bioenergy. 9:1526-1542.
  6. Gray, D.J., H. Baker, K. Clancy, R. C. Clarke, K. deCesare, J. Fike, M. J. Gibbs, F. Grotenhermen, N. C. Kane, K. G. Keepers, D. P. Land, R. C. Lynch, J. P. Mendieta, M. Merlin, K. Müller-Vahl, C. S. Pauli, B. J. Pearson, B. Rhan, T. C. Ruthenberg, C. J. Schwartz, S. B. Tittes, D. Vergara, K. H. White, R. N. Trigiano. 2016. Current and future needs and applications for cannabis. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences. 35:425-426.
  7. Fike, J.H. 2016. Industrial hemp: Renewed opportunities for an ancient crop. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences. 35:406-424. Invited Review.

Extension publications

  1. Fike, J. and G. Pent. 2019. Tall fescue, endophytes and alkaloids, and fescue toxicosis. In press.
  2. Fike, J., G. Pent and A. Abaye. 2019. Warm-season annual grasses for summer forage. In press.
  3. Fike, J.H., and M. Flessner. 2018. No-till seeding of forage grasses and legumes. In press.
  4. Benner, J., M. Booher, and J. Fike. 2018. Sampling tall fescue for endophyte infection and ergot alkaloid concentration. SPES-21P.
  5. Fike, J.H. et al. 2017. Creating Silvopastures – Some considerations when planting trees into pastures. CSES-185.
  6. Fike, J.H. et al. 2016. Creating Silvopastures – Some considerations when thinning existing timber stands. CSES-155.
  7. Fike, J.H. et al. 2016. Defining silvopastures: Integrating tree production with forage-livestock systems for economic, environmental, and aesthetic outcomes. CSES-146.