Grasses

 
      
 
 
 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers
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Knowledge Nuggets
  • In Western Canada most tame grass species are cool season species or C3 plants. Optimum growth occurs at temperatures between 18C to 24C.
  • Warm season grasses or C4 plants perform best at temperatures between 28C and 32C. Introduced grass species such as millet or corn plus some native species are considered to be C4 plants.
  • Grasses offer adaptability and flexibility to environmental conditions. Grass species vary in their tolerance to flooding, drought, heat, cold, salinity, acidity and alkalinity. These factors need to be considered when selecting forage species.
  • Grasses can be categorized as being either annuals or perennials. Perennial grasses can be further divided into either long-lived or short-lived species. Well established long-lived species can form permanent forage stands.
  • The root system of grass is fibrous and is either rhizomatous or bunch in nature. Rhizomatous grasses spread and form a dense stand while bunch grasses remain as individual plants. Bunch grasses are less competitive in forage mixtures than rhizomatous grass species.
  • Rooting depth also varies between species. Some species such as blue grass have shallow rooting depths while more drought tolerant species such as smooth brome have a higher proportion of their roots distributed deep within the soil profile.
  • Perennial grasses normally replace 25 to 50 percent of their roots annually. New root growth is hampered if to much leaf area is removed during the growing season to frequently.
  • Grasses grow differently. Some species tiller more actively and keep more leaf area near the soil surface with most of the seasonal growth as vegetative stems. This growth characteristic permits these species to tolerate more frequent grazing or clipping and still provide rapid re-growth. These species are referred to as short -jointed grasses.
  • Other species produce mainly reproductive stems. These species are referred to as long-jointed grasses and are more sensitive to frequent clipping or grazing. As a result, these species are best suited to hay production or for use as seasonal pasture.
  • Mixed stands of grasses or legumes are more stable as a sward than single specie stands. Where one specie suffers, another specie is better suited. This is particularly important in long term stands that need to produce well for many days in the growing season.
  • Straight stands are best suited when the grower's expectations are specific and for short times. The most suitable specie is then able to perform under that particular management program for the specific goal.
  • Fall management is critical in perennial grasses when plants are storing carbohydrates and developing new growing points. Without stored energy new spring growth is delayed and plants are less vigorous. Late summer grazing or cutting should be timed in order to provide a fall rest period.
  • Some species initiate growth earlier in the spring. This aspect is especially important for early season grazing or for capturing maximum sunlight energy throughout the growing season as a whole.
  • Growth curve differences exist amongst grass species. Grasses vary in the time required from first emergence to final seed set. Those grasses that have a long growth curve are easier to harvest especially when grazing. Long growth curves allow the grass to grow longer vegetatively compared to having quickly reached the objective of setting seed.
  • Grass species differ in palatability. Because of taste and texture, some species are more palatable longer into their life cycle. This aspect is critical where graziers bank forage for eventual consumption later in the fall and winter.
  • Some species utilize moisture better than others. Because of fundamental physiological differences, some species are better able to grow and reproduce under low levels of moisture compared to others. The nature of the roots and the leaf surface are two features that affect a species ability to thrive under heat, cold, drought or flooding.

Fact Sheets
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AC Admiral Meadow Bromegrass - available in PDF format only

AC Armada Meadow Bromegrass - available in PDF format only

AC Saltlander - available in PDF format only

Altai Wild Ryegrass

Annual Rye Grass for Stored Feed and Pasture

Common Plants of the Western Rangelands - Volume 1: Grasses and Grass-like Species

Forage Adaptation Chart - available in PDF format only

Forage Species

Grass Growth and Response to Grazing

How Pasture Plants Grow

Identification of Common Seeded Plants for Forage and Reclamation in Saskatchewan - available in PDF format only

Index of Kansas State Grass Key Images

Intermediate Wheatgrass

Managing Crested Wheat Grass Pastures - available in PDF format only - -

Meadow Brome

Pasture Grasses Identified

Prairie Grasses: Identified and described by vegetative characters

Prairie Grasses: The Grass Plant

Producing annual ryegrasses for pasture, silage and seed - available in PDF format only

Russian Wildrye for Pasture

Saskatchewan - Invasive Plant Species Identification Guide - available in PDF format only

Timothy productivity and forage qualtiy - possibilities and limitations - Akureyi, Iceland - available in PDF format only

UC SAREP Online Cover Crop Database

University of Lethbridge Herbarium

Research Papers

Agronomic characteristics and nutritive value of 11 grasses grown with irrigation on a saline soil in southwestern Saskatchewan - available in PDF format only

Altai Wild Rye: A Seed Production Review - availabile in PDF format only

Comparison of meadow fescue and meadow bromegrass in monoculture and in association with white clover - available in PDF format only

Crested Wheat Grass Seed Production: A Literature Review - available in PDF format only

Early seedling growth and forage production of dipoid and tetraploid crested wheatgrass and Russian wildrye cultivars - available in PDF format only

Effects of water and nitrogen on seed production of creeping red fescue

Etiolated growth of hybrid bromegrass (Bromus inermis x B. riparius) compared with smooth brome grass, meadow bromegrass, crested wheatgrass and tall fescue under grazed and nongrazed conditions - available in PDF format only

Growth and forage quality of three Bromus species native to western Canada - available in PDF format only

Harvest management and N-fertilization effects on protein yield, protein content and nitrogen use efficiency of smooth bromegrass, crested wheatgrass and meadow bromegrass - available in PDF format only

Herbage productivity and nutritive value of nine grasses in the Peace River region of northwestern Canada - available in PDF format only

Herbage yield and cattle preference for dryland pasture grasses - available in PDF format only

Herbage yield and composition of Kentucky bluegrass (poa pratensis L.) cultivars under two harvest systems - available in PDF format only

Improving the Nutritive Value of Timothy through Management and Breeding - available in PDF format only

Intermediate Wheat Grass Seed Production: A Literature Review - available in PDF format only

Kayak Orchardgrass - available in PDF format only

Kentucky Blue Grass: A Seed Production Review

Leaf and Stem Mass Characteristics of Cool-Season Grasses Grown in the Canadian Parkland - available in PDF format only

Leaf and stem nutritive value of timothy cultivars of different maturity at an irrigated site in southwestern Saskatchewan - available in PDF format only

Leaf epicuticular wax and glaucousness in Altai wildrye grass: which trait is most important to water status?

Phenotypic variation of side-oats grama grass [Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.)Torr.] collections from the Canadian Prairie - available in PDF format only

Potential of Forages to Diversify the Northen Great Plains Cropping Systems - A Review - available in PDF format only

Russian Wild Rye - A Literature Review - available in PDF format only

Russian wild rye nutritive quality as affected by accession and the environment - available in PDF format only

Smooth Brome Grass Seed Production: A Literature Review - available in PDF format only

Tom, Russian wildrye - available in PDF format only

Water Relations in Cool Season Grasses - available in PDF format only

Yield and nutritive value of irrigated tall fescue compared with orchardgrass: In monocultures or mixed with alfalfa - available in PDF format only

Yield and nutritive value of the spring growth of an ageing timothy sward

Yield, herbage composition, and tillering of timothy cultivars under grazing - available in PDF fomat only
 
 
 
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Janet Fletcher.
This information published to the web on November 19, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on April 20, 2016.
 

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