Submitted to: Warm Season Grasses
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: February 26, 2001
Publication Date: January 20, 2004
Citation: Coleman, S.W., Taliaferro, C.M., Tyrl, R.J. 2004. Warm Season Grasses. In: L.E. Moser et al. (ed) Old world bluestems. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, WI. p. 909-936.
Interpretive Summary: The OWB comprise a group of rather widely adapted C4 grasses indigenous to Eurasia, Australia, and China. When introduced into similar environments in the USA, they were more productive than most native range plants, and responded to increased fertility and moisture, especially in late summer. They are mainly used for forage production, either hayed or grazed, and are moderate in quality. Productivity and forage quality are high during spring, but will decline during mid-summer, often causing reduced animal productivity.
The Old World bluestems (OWB) compose a diverse group of grasses with wide natural distribution in tropical and milder temperate regions of Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. They are warm-season, mostly perennial grasses that have evolved numerous ecotypes adapted to a wide range of climatic and edaphic conditions. They are found in environments ranging from tropical lowlands to mountainous and from very arid to very humid. Plants vary in growth form from small to relatively robust and from semi- decumbent to erect. As a group, the OWBs are aggressive invaders of disturbed areas and are viewed as "weedy" species. In general, they are readily consumed by herbivores. Accordingly, in their natural habitats they are important ecologically in stabilizing disturbed areas and as feed for herbivorous animals, including domesticated livestock. The OWB grasses have been purposely rather widely introduced into the U.S.A. since the early 1900s. These grasses are now used in central and southern states, with the greatest use in the southern Great Plains. The OWB are quite suitable for use in the southern Great Plains as forage for livestock, for erosion control, and have been very popular in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). They are easy to establish, are as productive as the bermudagrasses, drought tolerant, and persistent. They typically produce 2-3 times as much as tallgrass prairie, but require well fertilized soils. Quality is similar to other warm season perennials.