The short answer is that the tall wheatgrass will provide a long grazing season. In the Southern Great Plains, tall wheatgrass is an excellent choice to fill gaps in forage and extend the grazing season. Its low palatability and coarse leaves make it not a good choice for all situations, though. However, the long grazing season makes it worth considering, especially in drought-prone areas. This article will discuss some of the pros and cons of tall wheatgrass.
Long grazing period
Tall wheatgrass is a highly productive pasture that makes good silage or hay. It is also a valuable fodder source during the hot summer months. Its diverse agronomic traits make it a valuable crop for a range of soil types and grazing practices. A cultivar, known as Dundas, was developed in the 1960s from a strain of the Tyrrell variety to improve leafiness and drought tolerance.
While tall wheatgrass is slow to mature, once established it persists very well. It responds to phosphorus and nitrogen, although applying them in spring may not be cost-effective for pastures that are lightly grazed. In addition, careful grazing is required in the first year of establishment to maintain the foliage, allow seed to germinate, and thicken the pasture. Although the long grazing period of tall wheatgrass is an advantage, the crop may need extra fertilizer and maintenance during the first year.
A tall wheatgrass crop is typically grown in temperate climates such as the Rocky Mountains. The grazing period is generally very long, between five to eight years. In the U.S., it has been grown for a long time, and some producers have found that it improves yields and increases production. Some cultivars have even been commercially available. For example, the Noble Research Institute’s cultivar, Plainsmen, has been shown to be drought-tolerant and saline-alkaline-tolerant.
Alkar is another cultivar that has high adaptability. Among tall wheatgrass cultivars, Alkar is a popular choice in the Pacific Northwest. While it requires a long growing season and requires lots of water, Alkar produces tall grass with fair-quality hay and can be harvested as silage as well. Its high digestible protein and total nutrients make it a valuable crop for livestock and pastures.
The growth and survival rates of green and tall wheatgrass seedlings were measured after emergence from saline soils using an experimental design. Based on Eq. 7, these two species provided comparable forage biomass yields. The relative forage yields were comparable in terms of harvested shoot biomass, which is indicative of plant survival under saline conditions. The NewHy species showed slightly greater salinity tolerance than the Orbit variety.
NewHy is a hybrid wheatgrass that is slightly saline tolerant than tall wheatgrass, and is nearly as palatable to livestock. NewHy is a cross between bluebunch wheatgrass and quackgrass, and was released in 1989 by the Agricultural Research Service. Its seedling vigor is high and is widely available. It is recommended for saline tolerant soils.
Tall wheatgrass grows well in soils that have moderate subsoil salinity. Tall wheatgrass is often found on sites that support sea barleygrass and buck’s horn plantain. Even though the ECe level in the subsoil is as low as 20dS during the summer, it still manages to reach a level of nutrition sufficient for growth. It can also tolerate some waterlogging in late spring and early summer, but does not survive extended periods of inundation.
In addition to the new species, Tall wheatgrass is saline adapted to the semiarid prairie regions. The study was conducted in collaboration with the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre (SPRAR).
Recovers from frost damage
This perennial grass is especially hardy in saline and alkaline soils. It grows well in soils that are partially or fully irrigated. It also tolerates moderate waterlogging in the cool season and can survive up to five weeks of flooding in late spring. Its waterlogging tolerance is similar to that of puccinellia, but its tolerance of waterlogging is much lower than that of other plants. It is more productive in areas with low to moderate salinity.
The extent of frost damage may not be readily apparent until the plant starts regrowing in warm weather. Observe the foliage, stem flexibility, and tissue rigidity to assess the damage. However, a plant may be damaged on other levels as well, including the root system and circulatory system. In this case, pruning or other damage may need to wait until the growth has recovered. During the early spring and summer months, the plant will show signs of frost damage on its leaves.
Once established, tall wheatgrass needs protection for at least one full growing season in irrigated land and two seasons in dry land. It can be harvested and grazed, but it must be allowed to mature and set seed. It also produces high yields of hay, making it an excellent choice for livestock. Tall wheatgrass does not exhibit temperature dormancy, but it does need grazing to stay leafy and in a vegetative state.
While it will not recover fully from frost damage, it is important to follow a management plan. Re-seeding in spring is essential if the damage has been widespread. If the damage is extensive, re-seeding will be the most effective solution. Tall wheatgrass grows rapidly and will take over the plant stand in four to five years. If you haven’t done so, the plant won’t survive in its native habitat.
Stable under grazing
Tall wheatgrass requires special management to produce high forage yields. Cattle are not able to graze the crop down to six inches, which prevents them from overgrazing. To regulate the grazing height, cut the crop for hay once a year at the prescribed grazing height. Afterward, the stubble becomes stiff and coarse, which prevents cattle from grazing too close to the cutting height. Cattle maintain this height, and the forage lost due to high defoliation heights is mostly coarse stems. The tall wheatgrass may require occasional mowing when old growth accumulates.
The average plant cover on both types of rangelands was low, but was significantly higher on native rangeland than crested wheatgrass rangeland. The low plant cover was typical of rangelands in the southern interior of BC due to the limited amount of available soil water. In both types of rangeland, the plant cover was approximately 500 kg ha-1. The alfalfa pastures were grazed equally to both alfalfa and tall wheatgrass.
The mean productivity of tall wheatgrass varied from low to high. It exhibited maximal productivity in the second growing season, but then declined. In comparison, crested wheatgrass exhibited the highest productivity in the fourth and fifth harvest years, and was relatively stable under grazing in the sixth and seventh seasons. Both types were grouped based on their morphological characteristics, such as low palatability in the summer.
Tall wheatgrass is an ideal cover crop for arid and saline soils. It tolerates grazing and survives weeks of flooding. Its drought-tolerant properties allow it to thrive in areas of upland gamebirds and equidistant rainfall. For winter, it grows on wet land and recovers rapidly in the spring. It can be seeded in a wet field if conditions are right.
Easy to manage
Tall wheatgrass is a perennial grass that grows in a wide range of conditions, including soils that are moderately salinated. Tall wheatgrass grows well in the northern Great Plains and is less palatable than other varieties of wheatgrass. It produces good forage yields under early-season rotational grazing. It is frequently used as an erosion control measure along roadsides and other critical areas. Its long grazing season makes it an excellent crop for these purposes. Tall wheatgrass is a relatively easy plant to manage and is considered an excellent choice for a variety of soil conditions. It is not considered a weed in any sense of the word, and it can coexist with many native species and can survive brief periods of inundation.
The easiest way to manage tall wheat grass is to avoid sowing it in a place where it will germinate. You can scarify the ground before planting tall wheatgrass so that the plants have plenty of water to germinate. You should also consider planting companion legumes and grasses in the same area as tall wheat grass. Tall wheat grass is an attractive crop that improves agricultural productivity in secondary salinity areas. It can be sown in fields, but it should only be planted when conditions are favourable.
While tall wheatgrass does not tolerate heavy grazing, it needs a rest period between grazing events to achieve a vegetative state. This means you should not graze it continuously, as it will damage the soil and the grass. Tall wheatgrass does benefit from annual applications of nitrogen to the soil. A good way to manage tall wheatgrass is to use a spray-on fertiliser that is suited for your soil type.