Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 20, 2004
Publication Date: November 20, 2004
Citation: Sanderson, M.A., Skinner, R.H., Van Der Griten, M., Kujawski, J. 2004. Eastern bottlebrush grass yield, persistence, and nutritive value in the Northeastern USA. Crop Science. 44:2193-2198. Interpretive Summary: Interest in the use of native plant species for conservation and production has increased during recent years because of new federal policies related to invasive species, conservation plantings, farm programs, and ecosystem restoration. Few, if any, native cool-season grasses have been evaluated as forage species in the northeastern USA. We evaluated several northeastern collections of bottlebrush grass for dry matter yield, persistence, morphological characteristics, and nutritive value at three locations. Our results from two years and three locations show that eastern bottlebrush grass does not have potential for use as a forage grass in the northeastern USA. It may be more suited to other uses such as native grassland restoration or as part of conservation planting mixtures where defoliation does not occur. Bottlebrush grass appears to be sensitive to drought and should not be used on soils with low water-holding capacity or where bluegrass billbug may be abundant.
Technical Abstract: Interest in native plant species for conservation and production has increased because of new federal policies. We evaluated northeastern accessions of eastern bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix var. hystrix L.), a native cool-season grass, for yield, persistence, plant morphological traits, and nutritive value. Thirteen accessions and one commercial ecotype of bottlebrush grass were transplanted into single-row field plots in late summer of 2000 at Beltsville, MD, Rock Springs, PA, and Big Flats, NY. Two orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) cultivars were the checks. Yield, persistence, morphology (leaf width, length, mass, area, and tillers per plant), and nutritive value data were collected during 2001 and 2002. Bottlebrush grass was eliminated by the bluegrass billbug (Sphenophorus parvulus Gylenhal) at Rock Springs in spring of 2001. At Big Flats and Belstville the bottlebrush grass accessions produced as much dry matter per plant as the commercial ecotype. Orchardgrass yielded four times as much dry matter as the mean of all bottlebrush grass entries (102 g vs. 26 g per plant averaged for years and locations). The low productivity in bottlebrush grass resulted from reduced tillering, especially during regrowth. There was very little regrowth of bottlebrush grass during late summer in all environments. Survival of bottlebrush grass was much lower than orchardgrass (36% vs. 84%, respectively). Differences in nutritive value among accessions were due mainly to differences in leaf-to-stem mass ratio. Eastern bottlebrush grass does not have potential for use as a forage grass in the northeastern USA.