Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Collection and Evaluation of Plant Materials for Rangelands of the Intermountain Region of the Western U.S.

Location: Forage and Range Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Collect and evaluate promising plant materials for use in improving degraded rangelands in the western U.S. to help develop an understanding of the ecology and physiology of these plant materials.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Seed and associated passport data of promising grasses and forbs will be collected at wildland sites in the Intermountain Region of the western U.S. Field, laboratory and greenhouse studies will be conducted to evaluate these collections for germination, establishment, forage and seed production, competitiveness, and persistence. These evaluation data will be critical in identifying the most promising collections for further testing and eventual release.


3.Progress Report:

The main objective of this project is to conduct coordinated research contributing to the development of native and introduced plant materials for rangeland restoration and reclamation. Targeted species include native forbs (basalt milkvetch, western prairie clover, Searls’ prairie clover, Utah trefoil, lewis flax), native grasses (bluebunch wheatgrass, Snake River wheatgrass, thickspike wheatgrass, bottlebrush squirreltail, basin wildrye), and introduced grasses (crested wheatgrass, tall wheatgrass, intermediate wheatgrass, hard and sheep fescue). The FRRL coordinates and cooperates in research involving: (1) collection of wildland populations of native species,.
2)evaluation of these populations, and (3) artificial selection of native and introduced species for improved rangeland adaptation and/or seed production. The primary uses of collaborating funds include salaries for undergraduate and graduate students and equipment and supplies to support this research.

During FY-2013: Funds are being used primarily for student research. A common garden of 36 lewis flax populations originating from 5 Intermountain states (UT, NV, CO, ID, OR) was established at Millville Farm in June 2012 with eight replications. Included as checks were ‘Appar’ and Maple Grove Germplasm. In 2012, 18 wildland collections (UT, AZ, NV) were made of Utah trefoil. DNA from the populations was extracted to gain phylogeographic information. Flowering dates in 2013 were recorded. Seed capsules have been harvested to measure seed-set percentage. A second flax study was established at two locations (North Park Farm and Nephi Farm) in 2013 to compare Appar and Maple Grove to three commercially available lewis flax populations originating in eastern Washington state: Columbia, Desert, and Smith Canyon.

Other progress during FY-2013 has involved selections of native forbs. Seed was harvested from recurrent selection blocks of NCO basalt milkvetch (North Park Farm), Patterson Pass Searls’ prairie clover (Blue Creek Farm), and Spectrum western prairie clover (Hyde Park Farm). New seed increases of the Patterson Pass population and NBR-1 Germplasm were planted at Millville Farm. A recurrent selection block of the Elephant Knoll Searls’ prairie clover population was established at Hyde Park Farm. A block to generate a Majestic polycross western prairie clover population was established at Evans Farm. Plants were reared in 2013 for an experiment at Evans Farm to determine whether interspecific hybridization may occur between the two prairie clover species. Plots to evaluate the 18 Utah trefoil accessions, along with ‘Norcen’ birdsfoot trefoil as a check, were established at Millville Farm, North Park Farm, and Blue Creek Farm in 2013.

Finally, in 2013 crested wheatgrass (HxB28 population) and tall wheatgrass half-sib families were seeded in an evaluation trial at Evans Farm with an emphasis on forage production. Intermediate wheatgrass continues to be evaluated for early spring and late fall forage yield and quality. Evaluation trials were established at Nephi, UT and Aberdeen, ID to evaluate experimental populations of crested wheatgrass, meadow bromegrass, bluebunch wheatgrass, Snake River wheatgrass, hard and sheep fescue, thickspike wheatgrass, and basin wildrye and to compare them with commercially available plant materials. The primary purpose of these trials is to collect data to justify or deny the release of new cultivars or germplasm.


Last Modified: 4/19/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page