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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Seedling Development and Field Performance of Prairiegrass, Grazing Bromegrass, and Orchardgrass

Authors
item Sanderson, Matt
item Skinner, Robert
item Elwinger, Gerald

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 19, 2001
Publication Date: January 20, 2002
Citation: Sanderson, M.A., Skinner, R.H., Elwinger, G. 2002. Seedling development and field performance of prairiegrass, grazing bromegrass, and orchardgrass. Crop Science. 42(1):224-230.

Interpretive Summary: Establishment of new pastures from seed is risky. Forage plants must be able to grow and develop quickly to withstand stresses and develop a productive stand. We examined grazing bromegrass, prairiegrass, and orchardgrass for their ability to establish rapidly and to yield well in established stands. Grazing bromegrass had more leaves, about twice the number of tillers per seedling, and a greater seedling mass than other grasses. The larger seedling size and greater tiller density, however, did not translate into greater yield performance in the field. Rapid development of the larger-seeded grasses in a mixed species planting may crowd out smaller seedlings. Therefore, prairiegrass and grazing bromegrass probably should be used at a lower seeding rate or perhaps not used in seed mixtures with small-seeded grasses. Seedlings of these grasses should be fully established by 40 to 50 days after planting under favorable moisture and temperatures in the spring and late summer.

Technical Abstract: Knowledge of the seedling development of new forages is necessary for developing management practices and in formulating species mixtures for pasture seedings. We compared seedling growth and development of prairiegrass (Bromus catharticus M. Vahl), grazing bromegrass (Bromus stamineus Desv.), and orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) in controlled environment and field studies. Seedlings were sampled weekly for 7 wk in the growth chamber and greenhouse beginning 8 to 10 d after planting (DAP). The number and mass of leaves and roots were recorded. In the field, leaf development was measured during spring and fall of 1997 and leaf and root development were measured during spring and fall of 1999. Forage dry matter (DM) yield was measured in clipped field plots during 1998 to 2000. Grazing bromegrass had more leaves, about twice the number of tillers per seedling, and a greater seedling mass than other grasses. Grazing bromegrass also had 50 to 100% more tillers m-2 than other grasses in clipped field plots. The larger seedling size and greater tiller density, however, did not translate into greater yield performance in clipped plots because grazing bromegrass yielded 10 to 15% less than orchardgrass or prairiegrass. Rapid development of the larger-seeded grasses in a mixed species planting may crowd out smaller seedlings. Therefore, prairiegrass and grazing bromegrass probably should be used at a lower seeding rate or perhaps not used in seed mixtures with small-seeded grasses. Seedlings of these grasses should be fully established by 40 to 50 DAP under favorable moisture and temperatures in the spring and late summer.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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