Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/7/2013
Publication Date: 7/22/2013
Citation: Clements, D.D., Young, J.A., Harmon, D.N. 2013. The use of plant material testing to successfully suppress cheatgrass[abstract]. Soil and Water Conservation Society International Meeting, Reno, NV, July 21-24, 2013. 68:122.
Technical Abstract: Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is an exotic and invasive annual grass that was accidentally introduced to western North America in the late 19th century. Cheatgrass provides an early maturing, fine-textured fuel that increases the chance, rate, spread and season of wildfires. With each passing wildfire season, more and more critical habitats are burned up and converted to cheatgrass dominance. Following an herbicidal application of a cheatgrass-dominated site in northern Nevada, we seeded 16 separate species (8 grasses, 4 shrubs and 4 forbs) in an effort to test the ability of these 16 various plant species to germinate, sprout, establish and suppress cheatgrass. Prior to the herbicide application cheatgrass densities averaged 4,900/m². Cheatgrass densities following herbicidal control in the summer prior to the fall seeding averaged 9.24/m². By June 2010, ‘Hycrest’crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) and ‘Sherman’ big bluegrass (Poa ampla) were the two plant species that performed the best. They stood out as good revegetation candidates at this site with densities of 4.6/m² and 3.6/m², respectfully. Cheatgrass densities in June 2010 in the ‘Hycrest’ and ‘Sherman’ plots averaged 7.3/m² and 10.2/m², compared to 817.4/m² in the control, 204/m² in the bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) and 301.62/m² in the squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) plots. Better understanding of the inherent potential of seed species to germinate, sprout, and establish in the face of such fierce competitors as cheatgrass is critical if land managers are going to be successful in reversing the tide of cheatgrass dominance, frequent wildfires, and loss of critical wildlife habitats and grazing resources.