Submitted to: Native Plant Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2005
Publication Date: 11/1/2005
Citation: Booth, D.T. 2005. Establishing Wyoming big sagebrush seed orchards on reclaimed mine land. Native Plant Journal 6(3):247-253. Interpretive Summary: Demand for sagebrush seed for ecological restoration projects is expanding but wildland seed production has been reduced by weed invasions and wildfire. Seed orchards might be used to increase seed production and I tested 2 seeding methods, together with fabric mulch and a cross-linked polyacrylamide polymer soil amendment for establishing dryland orchards of Wyoming big sagebrush on a reclaimed mine in Wyoming’s Shirley Basin. Case-Hole Punch Seeding produced more and faster growing plants than broadcasting. Plants established through mulch grew faster and produced more seed than untreated plots. Polyacrylamide treated plots produced less seed than untreated plots in every year of the study. Fabric mulch clearly enhanced sagebrush growth and seed yield. Polyacrylamide did not.
Technical Abstract: Reclaimed mined lands often have restricted public access, a situation that could encourage sagebrush seed growers to invest in methods for increasing seed production and seed purity and quality. I tested the agronomic benefit of 2 seeding methods, fabric mulch, and a cross-linked polyacrylamide polymer soil amendment by using these practices to establish 3 Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. wyomingensis Beetle & Young) seed orchards on a reclaimed uranium mine in Wyoming’s Shirley Basin. Seed yield was monitored for 5 years. Case-Hole Punch Seeding produced more and faster growing plants than broadcasting. Seed from plants established through mulch averaged 20 to 36 g (0.7 to 1.3 oz) per plant compared to less than 10 g (0.4 oz) per plant without mulch. Polyacrylamide-amended soil produced less seed than untreated plots in every year of the study. Fabric mulch clearly enhanced sagebrush growth and seed yield. Polyacrylamide did not.