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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Humans, Climate, and Plants: the Migration of Crested Wheatgrass and Smooth Bromegrass to the Great Plains of North America

Author
item Vogel, Kenneth

Submitted to: Proceedings of the OECD Conference on Biological Resources & Migration
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: January 16, 2003
Publication Date: July 2, 2004
Citation: Vogel, K.P. 2004. Humans, climate, and plants: the migration of crested wheatgrass and smooth bromegrass to the great plains of north america. Proceedings of the OECD Conference on Biological Resources & Migration. p. 35-45.

Interpretive Summary: Cultivation practices that were used in Europe and the eastern half of North America were utilized in the initial settlement of the Great Plains. Unfamiliarity with the climate of the Great Plains and Midwest and insufficient knowledge and technology to adapt crop production systems to the soils and climate lead to a major agriculture disaster which resulted in millions of hectares of land that needed to be re-seeded to grasses. Lack of knowledge and technology for using native plants and some specific characteristics of native plants that made them difficult to use resulted in the use of crested wheatgrasses and smooth bromegrass which had characteristics that meet specific re-vegetation and production requirements. Crested wheatgrass and smooth bromegrass plant materials were from regions that were climatic analogs of the Great Plains and were adapted. These two grasses literally preserved the remaining top soil on millions of hectares of land. In the subsequent half-century, agronomist, geneticists, and rangeland scientists have learned how to establish and manage native grasses so they are now available for use in re-vegetation. Although native grasses are available for use in the Great Plains and the Midwest of North America, crested wheatgrass and smooth bromegrass are now naturalized North American species and will continue to be grasses vital to the economy of the USA and Canada. Their forage production patterns fits gaps in the forage production cycle for ruminant livestock that cannot be adequately met by native species in regions where they are well adapted.

Technical Abstract: Cultivation practices that were used in Europe and the eastern half of North America were utilized in the initial settlement of the Great Plains. Unfamiliarity with the climate of the Great Plains and Midwest and insufficient knowledge and technology to adapt crop production systems to the soils and climate lead to a major agriculture disaster which resulted in millions of hectares of land that needed to be re-seeded to grasses. Lack of knowledge and technology for using native plants and some specific characteristics of native plants that made them difficult to use resulted in the use of crested wheatgrasses and smooth bromegrass which had characteristics that meet specific re-vegetation and production requirements. Crested wheatgrass and smooth bromegrass plant materials were from regions that were climatic analogs of the Great Plains and were adapted. These two grasses literally preserved the remaining top soil on millions of hectares of land. In the subsequent half-century, agronomist, geneticists, and rangeland scientists have learned how to establish and manage native grasses so they are now available for use in re-vegetation. Although native grasses are available for use in the Great Plains and the Midwest of North America, crested wheatgrass and smooth bromegrass are now naturalized North American species and will continue to be grasses vital to the economy of the USA and Canada. Their forage production patterns fits gaps in the forage production cycle for ruminant livestock that cannot be adequately met by native species in regions where they are well adapted.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014