REPORT OF GRASS AND LEGUME INVESTIGATIONS

BY WARREN C. WHITMAN, BOTANIST

 

HAY YIELDS FROM GRASS AND GRASS-ALFALFA MIXTURE PLOTS

Intermediate and pubescent wheatgrass plots: The stands in both the 1954 and the 1958 seedings of intermediate wheatgrass and pubescent wheatgrass were so poor in 1962 that the plots were not harvested for yield. The data in Table 1 show the average yields of the varieties included in the 1954 seeding for the period of 1955-1961, while average yields for the 1958 seeding are given for the period 1959-1961. These data are presented as a summary of the performance of the intermediate and pubescent wheatgrass varieties in these two different trials.

Hay yields of the varieties seeded in 1954 were quite high for the period 1955-1959, after which the stands began to show serious deterioration and by 1961 the plots of most varieties had less than a 35 per cent stand left. The average yield for all varieties in this trial was over 3/4 ton of hay per acre for the 7-year period, 1955-1961, despite the loss of stand in the last years of the trial. The stands actually were productive for 6 years. As shown in Table 1, the range in average yields for the different varieties was rather narrow, being only from 1845 pounds per acre for Ree wheatgrass, the highest producer, to 1531 pounds per acre for A-12496, the lowest producer.

Yields from the 1958 seeding were considerably less than from the earlier seeding, and serious stand deterioration occurred following only 2 years of harvest. In 1961, the last year that yields were taken from these plots, most of the plots had less than a 50 per cent stand on them, and there was no stand improvement in the 1962 season. The average yield of all varieties in this trial for the 3-year period, 1959-1961, was only 1097 pounds per acre, almost 500 pounds per acre less than the 7-year average yield for the plots seeded in 1954. The range in average yield was from a high of 1262 pounds per acre for South Dakota 20 to 983 pounds per acre for the lowest producer, Amur.

The principal value of intermediate wheatgrass in this area would seem to be in a relatively short-time rotation on well-drained soils which have a better-than-average moisture supply. Under such conditions relatively good yields of hay could be expected for periods of from 3 to 5 years. The grass has been especially productive on such sites when grown in mixture with alfalfa.

Table 1. Average Hay Yields of Intermediate Wheatgrass and Pubescent Wheatgrass in Two Different Trials at the Dickinson Station.
Variety 7-Year Avg. Yield-
Lbs. Per Acre
(1955-1961)
3-Year Avg. Yield-
Lbs. Per Acre
(1959-1961)
Ree Wheatgrass 1845 1055
M2-10820 1758 ---
N. Dak. Pubescent 1693 ---
Nebraska 50 1682 1090
N. Dak. Intermediate 1665 1087
Pubescent Wheatgrass 1647 ---
A-12496 1531 1026
South Dakota 20 --- 1262
Idaho #3 --- 1242
Idaho #4 --- 1106
Greenar --- 1024
Amur --- 983
Average 1689 1097

Uniform bromegrass trial: The hay yields for 1962 for the 14 strains of bromegrass included in the uniform bromegrass trial are given in Table 2. The 8-year average yields for the brome varieties are given in Table 3. These plots were seeded in 1953, and some of the plots show appreciable stand damage. Nonetheless the 1962 average yield for all varieties of 1582 pounds per acre was the highest average yield of any of the 8 years that the trial has been harvested. The yields of nearly all varieties in the 1962 season were higher than any of the yields made by the varieties in the previous years of the trial.

The data of Table 2 show that for the most part the southern types still show somewhat better yields than the northern types. The range in yields for the 1962 season was from a high of 1771 pounds per acre for Achenbach to a low of 1387 pounds per acre for Canadian commercial. Achenbach, Fischer, Bin 12, Elsberry, Kuhl, and Lincoln all produced about 1600 pounds per acre or more. On the basis of the 8-year averages, Lincoln, Fischer, and Achenbach (southern types) have been the best producers, each averaging slightly over 1200 pounds of hay per acre. The lowest producers have been, Homesteader, Manchar, Mandan 404, and Canadian commercial, all northern types.

Table 2. Composition of Hay Yields From Bromegrass plots Seeded in 1953
Variety Dry-Wt. Yield - Lbs./Acre Total Yield-
Lbs. Per Acre
Grass Other
Grass
Weeds
Achenbach 1771 --- --- 1771
Fischer 1714 --- 26 1740
Bin 12 1650 --- --- 1650
Elsberry 1628 --- --- 1628
Kuhl 1609 --- 17 1626
Martin 1584 --- 12 1596
Lincoln 1576 --- 20 1596
Oklahoma synthetic 1577 --- 2 1579
Homesteader 1560 --- --- 1560
Mandan 404 1524 --- --- 1524
Lyon 1476 --- 48 1524
Lancaster 1504 --- 12 1516
Manchar 1451 --- --- 1451
Canadian common 1299 --- 88 1387
Average 1566 --- 16 1582


Table 3. Hay Yields From Bromegrass Plots Seeded in 1953
Variety Dry - Weight Yield - Lbs./Acre 8-Yr. Average Yield lbs./acre
1954 1955 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962
Lincoln 1606 1498 1459 1260 906 1115 432 1596 1234
Fischer 1637 1414 1408 1239 849 1111 461 1740 1232
Achenbach 1702 1463 1318 1159 734 1247 389 1771 1223
Oklahoma synthetic 1363 1426 1614 1190 789 1135 461 1579 1195
Elsbery 1190 1548 1537 1184 952 1010 438 1628 1186
Bin 12 1289 1326 1380 1206 1007 1071 416 1650 1168
Lancaster 1275 1476 1397 1142 864 1095 405 1516 1146
Lyon 1380 1511 1417 1140 707 1042 394 1524 1139
Kuhl 1334 1352 1486 1107 704 1088 401 1626 1137
Martin 1247 1335 1160 1179 951 986 384 1596 1105
Homesteader 1214 1433 1319 1099 677 1000 402 1560 1088
Manchar 1241 1478 1132 1126 746 1057 448 1451 1085
Mandan 404 1261 1359 1226 1069 865 991 385 1524 1085
Canadian com. 1122 1287 1095 920 774 990 327 1387 988
Average 1371 1421 1353 1144 823 1067 410 1582 1143

Crested wheatgrass trial: Yields of hay (oven-dry weight) from the crested wheatgrass varieties in the trial seeded in 1958 are given in Table 4. The 1962 average yield for the 9 varieties in the trial was 1790 pounds per acre, with common crested producing 2080 pounds per acre, the highest yield of any variety, and Turkish Fairway, the lowest producing variety, yielding 1338 pounds per acre. The highest producers this year and over the 4-year period of the trial have been derivatives from the standard type. These varieties include common standard crested, Summit, and Nordan. The Fairway selections (true crested wheatgrass) have been slightly lower in hay production than the standard derivatives.

The data of Table 3 show that Achenbach brome, the highest yielding brome variety in the 1962 season produced 1771 pounds per acre. This production was topped by four of the crested wheatgrass varieties as shown in Table 4.

The crested wheatgrass stands in this trial are in excellent condition, and contain very few weeds and practically no invading grasses. Turkish Fairway seems not to be well-adapted in this area, and there is some stand deterioration taking place in the plots of this variety. Except for this latter variety, all of the crested strains produced more than 3/4-ton of hay per acre this year, and over the 4-year period of the trial have averaged over -ton per acre.

Table 4. Hay Yields from Crested Wheatgrass Varieties Seeded in 1958
Variety Dry Weight Yield - Lbs./Acre 4-Year Average
Yield - Pounds Per Acre
1959 1960 1961 1962
Commercial Crested 1452 1815 824 2080 1543
Summit Crested 1328 1614 856 2023 1455
Nordan Crested 1427 1461 806 2006 1425
Nebraska 10 1137 1791 864 1890 1421
Commercial Fairway 1425 1619 873 1759 1419
Nebraska 3576 Fairway 1371 1605 905 1680 1390
Mandan 2359 1157 1687 833 1768 1361
South Dakota 15 1164 1546 770 1566 1262
Turkish Fairway 753 930 562 1338 896
Average 1246 1563 810 1790 1352

Station grass and mixture trial: Tables 5, 6, and 7 summarize the yields of the mixtures and straight grass seedings in the Station trial seeded in the spring of 1958. Table 5 gives the 1962 yields from the grass-alfalfa mixtures, and Table 6 gives the average yields from the mixtures over the 4-year period of the trial, 1959-1962. The average yields of the straight grass plots in the trial are given in Table 7.

Yields from the mixtures and straight grass seedings were very good this season, although not the highest obtained thus far during the 4-year period of the trial. The mixtures produced appreciably better than the straight grass seedings this year, the average yield for all mixtures being 2532 pounds per acre as contrasted to 1991 pounds per acre for the straight grass seedings. Alfalfa was especially important in the yields from the green stipa-alfalfa plots. Alfalfa made up over 50 per cent of the yield in each of the three top-producing mixtures in the 1962 season. These mixtures were green stipa-Ladak alfalfa, Nordan crested-Teton alfalfa, and Lincoln brome-Ladak alfalfa.

As shown in Table 6 the Nordan crested-Teton alfalfa has yielded somewhat better than the other mixtures over the 4-year period of the trial. On the basis of the 4-year average production five of the mixtures have produced over a ton of hay per acre. These mixtures are Nordan crested-Ladak, Intermediate wheatgrass-Teton alfalfa, Lincoln brome-Nordan-Ladak alfalfa, Lincoln brome-Ladak, and Lincoln brome-Teton.

The green stipa-alfalfa mixtures did not come into substantial production until the last two years of the trial, and alfalfa makes up a high proportion of the yield in these mixtures.

The straight grass seedings have yielded unusually well in this trial. The 4-year average yield for the varieties which have produced over the 4-year period has been 1979 pounds per acre. The top-producing variety has been Summit crested wheatgrass, followed by Nebraska 50 Intermediate wheatgrass. Nordan crested has yielded about the same as the Intermediate, and Lincoln brome and Southland have produced just slightly less than the Intermediate plots. All of these varieties have produced over a ton of hay per acre on the average. The green stipa varieties have just come into production in the last two years of the trial. Improved green stipa in the 1962 season produced 2441 pounds of hay per acre, the highest yield of any if the straight grass varieties.

Table 5. Composition of 1962 Hay Yields from Station Grass-Alfalfa Mixture Trial Seeded in 1958
Mixtures Dry Weight Yields - Lbs./Acre Total Yield
Grass Alfalfa Other
Grass
Weeds
Green stipa (New) - Ladak Alfalfa 301 2612 --- 93 3006
Nordan crested - Teton alfalfa 1978 992 --- --- 2970
Lincoln brome - Ladak alfalfa 1880 944 --- --- 2824
Lincoln brome - Teton alfalfa 2034 648 --- --- 2682
Green stipa - Teton alfalfa 708 1857 42 77 2684
Lincoln brome - Nordan crested- Ladak alfalfa 2131 532 --- --- 2663
Intermediate whtgr. - Teton alfalfa 1773 621 --- 27 2421
Green stipa - Ladak alfalfa 1231 1035 16 62 2344
Manchar brome - Ladak alfalfa 1702 535 --- --- 2237
Russian wildrye (2355) - Ladak alfalfa 1889 312 --- --- 2201
Russian wildrye (2355) - Teton alfalfa 1234 591 --- --- 1825
Average 1533 971 5 24 2533

Table 6. Average Hay Yields From Station Grass-Alfalfa Mixture Trial Seeded in 1958
Mixtures Dry Weight Yields - Lbs./Acre 4-Year Avg. Yield
1959 1960 1961 1962
Nordan crested-Teton alfalfa 2536 3396 1360 2970 2566
Intermediate whtgr.-Teton alfalfa 3144 3381 647 2421 2398
Lincoln brome-Nordan Crested-Ladak alfalfa 2447 3204 1195 2663 2377
Lincoln brome-Ladak alfalfa 2171 3272 903 2824 2293
Lincoln brome-Teton alfalfa 2329 2765 943 2682 2180
Manchar brome-Ladak alfalfa 2127 2764 692 2237 1955
Russian wildrye (2355)-Teton alfalfa 1449 2307 786 1825 1592
Russian wildrye (2355)-Ladak alfalfa 1653 1716 711 2201 1570
Intermediate whtgr.-Ladak alfalfa 2818 3258 755 ---* ---
Green stipa (New)-Ladak alfalfa --- --- --- 3006 ---
Green stipa-Teton alfalfa --- --- 642 2684 ---
Green stipa-Ladak alfalfa --- --- 1035 2344 ---
Average 2297 2896 879 2532 2116
*Only 1 plot producing in 1962.

Table 7. Four-Year Average Hay Yields From Station Grass Trial Seeded in 1958.
Grass Varieties Dry Weight Yield - Lbs./Acre 4-Year
Avg. Yield
1959 1960 1961 1962
Summit crested 2653 3310 1272 2317 2388
Intermediate whtgr. (N-50) 2865 3440 743 1855 2226
Nordan crested 2364 3203 1259 2032 2215
Lincoln brome 2559 3107 971 2185 2206
Southland brome 2344 3293 750 2141 2132
Northern brome 2324 2876 540 1818 1890
Manchar brome 2332 2560 707 1937 1884
Russian wildrye (2355) 1368 2086 686 1727 1467
Russian wildrye (Com.) 1404 1913 756 1530 1401
Slender whtgr. 1937 2601 No Stand ---
Green stipa (New) --- --- 755 2441 ---
Green stipa (Com.) --- --- 608 1916 ---
Average 2215 2839 822 1991 1979

Dryland Alfalfa Plots: Hay yields from the alfalfa plots seeded in the 1960 season are given in Tables 8 and 9. Table 8 gives the yields for the varieties in the 1962 season and Table 9 gives the yields for the two years of the trial. Two cuttings were made on all plots in the 1962 season, and excellent yields were obtained. The highest yield in the 1962 season was from Rambler, with a production of 5947 pounds per acre, and the lowest yield was from Ranger with a production of 4842 pounds per acre.

Yields of all varieties from the first cutting averaged 3773 pounds per acre, and from the second cutting 1667 pounds per acre. Thus on the average about 70 per cent of the yield was produced from the first cutting. All varieties except two, Teton and Ranger, produced over 5,000 pounds dry-weight of hay this year. On the basis of the 2-year average yields Rambler, Ladak, DuPuits, Rhizoma, Narragansett, and Vernal have been the best hay producers, all yielding over 3300 pounds per acre.

Table 8. Hay Yields for the 1962 Season from Dryland Alfalfa Plots Seeded in 1960.
Variety Dry-Weight Yield - Lbs./Acre Total Yield -
Lbs/Acre
1st Clipping 2nd Clipping
Rambler 4203 1744 5947
Rhizoma 4099 1824 5923
Ladak 4132 1719 5851
DuPuits 3849 1940 5789
Narragansett 3857 1801 5658
Vernal 3945 1600 5545
Grimm 3597 1757 5354
Scandia 3613 1699 5312
Pfister 3410 1683 5093
S. Dak H 2157 3590 1418 5008
Teton 3542 1418 4960
Ranger 3443 1399 4842
Average 3773 1667 5440

Table 9. Two-Year Average Hay Yields From Dryland Alfalfa Plots Seeded in 1960.
Variety Dry Weight Yield - Lbs./Acre Average Yield
Lbs./Acre
1961 1962
Rambler 1124 5947 3535
Ladak 963 5851 3407
Du Puits 974 5789 3381
Rhizoma 827 5923 3375
Narragansett 1023 5658 3340
Vernal 1099 5545 3322
Grimm 1059 5354 3207
Scandia 907 5312 3109
Pfister - FD - 180 904 5093 2998
S. Dak. H-2157 900 5008 2954
Teton 841 4960 2900
Ranger 869 4842 2855
Average 989 5440 3199

NITROGEN FERTILIZER ON CRESTED WHEATGRASS

1. Plots fertilized every year: Dry weight yields from old crested wheatgrass plots fertilized every year with ammonium nitrate (33-0-3) are given in Table 12. This trial was begun in 1955 and 8-year's data are available. Fertilizer applications on these plots have all been made in early spring, with the 1962 applications being made on April 2. The treatments include check (0 nitrogen), 25 pounds nitrogen, 50 pounds nitrogen, and 100 pounds nitrogen per acre.

Yield responses to fertilizer application were excellent in the 1962 season, although as in past years, there was little advantage in applications of more than 25 pounds per acre. The check plots yielded 2519 pounds dry-weight of hay per acre as against an average check yield of 1242 pounds per acre. The plots receiving 25 pounds of nitrogen per acre produced 4130 pounds per acre in contrast to an average yield of these plots of 1861 pounds per acre. The yield of the plots receiving 50 pounds of nitrogen was 4200 pounds per acre, and from the 100 pounds N plots, 4326 pounds of hay per acre. Both these yields represent only negligible increases over the yields from the 25-pound-per-acre treatment.

For the 8-year period as a whole the 25-pound-per-acre treatment has produced a profitable increase in hay yield over that of the check. Even in favorable moisture years, such as the 1962 season, there seems little justification for using nitrogen in excess of 25 pounds per acre to increase production from old crested wheatgrass stands on dryland sites.

2. Plots fertilized every other year: The hay yields from the plots fertilized every other year with ammonium nitrate are given in Table 11. These plots are fertilized in the spring of alternate years at the same rates as the plots fertilized annually. Fertilizer applications have been made in the spring in 1957, 1959, and 1961. The data show that there is some carry-over effect from all rates of fertilization, although this effect may be small in some years.

There was appreciable carry-over effect in the 1962 season from the fertilizer applications made in the relatively dry 1961 season. Thus the check yield was 2,298 pounds per acre, while the 25-pound-per-acre alternate-year treatment produced 3,049 pounds per acre. The 50 pound-per-acre treatment produced 3,625 pounds of hay per acre, and the 100-pound treatment, 3792 pounds of hay per acre.

On the basis of the use of equal amounts of nitrogen over a 2-year period, the increases in yield obtained by fertilizing every-other-year with 50 pounds of nitrogen have not been quite as good as the increases obtained by fertilizing annually with 25 pounds of nitrogen per acre. Fertilizing with 100 pounds of nitrogen every-other-year has produced yields slightly better than the yields obtained every year with 50 pounds of nitrogen. The increased yields from 50 pounds of nitrogen every year or 100 pounds of nitrogen every other year are not large enough to justify the use of either of these treatments as compared to the 25-pound-per-acre annual rate or the 50-pound alternate-year rate.

Table 10. Forage Production From Old Crested Wheatgrass Plots Fertilized Annually at Three Rates Of Nitrogen (33-0-0)
Year Dry-Weight Yield - Lbs./Acre Percentage Increase Over Check
Check 25 lbs.
N
50 lbs.
N
100 lbs.
N
25 lbs.
N
50 lbs.
N
100 lbs.
N
1955 1276 2096 2121 2494 64.3 66.2 95.4
1956 612 751 763 670 22.7 24.7 9.5
1957 1356 2117 2064 2174 56.1 52.2 60.3
1958 1224 1679 1839 1993 37.0 50.2 62.8
1959 1116 1451 1284 1206 30.0 51.1 8.1
1960 1279 2003 1954 2160 56.6 52.6 68.9
1961 550 661 693 706 20.2 26.0 28.4
1962 2519 4130 4200 4326 64.0 66.7 71.7
8-Year Avg. 1242 1861 1865 1966 49.8 50.1 58.3

Table 11. Forage Production From Old Crested Wheatgrass Plots Fertilized Alternate Years* At Three Rates of Nitrogen (33-0-0)
Year Dry-Weight Yield Percentage Increase Over Check
Check 25 lbs.
N
50 lbs.
N
100 lbs.
N
25 lbs.
N
50 lbs.
N
100 lbs.
N
1957 1239 1714 2013 2001 38.3 62.5 61.5
1958 1003 1016 1114 1250 1.3 11.1 24.6
1959 1094 1230 1266 1659 12.4 15.7 51.6
1960 1306 1813 1801 2187 38.8 37.9 67.5
1961 554 608 658 624 9.7 18.8 12.6
1962 2298 3049 3265 3792 32.7 42.1 65.0
1234 1572 1686 1919 27.4 36.6 55.5
*Fertilizer applied in spring of 1957, 1959, and 1961.

NEW FERTILIZER TRIAL

1. Hay yields from new fertilizer trial: In this trial, which was seeded in the spring of 1956, Nordan crested wheatgrass, Lincoln brome, Intermediate wheatgrass, and Russian wildrye were grown alone, mixed with Ladak alfalfa, and in plots fertilized with 33 pounds, 67 pounds, and 100 pounds nitrogen per acre. Fertilizer applications were made in the fall of 1957 and 1958, but for all other seasons the fertilizer was applied in the spring. Serious stand deterioration appeared in the intermediate wheatgrass and Lincoln brome plots in 1959, and the plots of these two grasses have not been harvested for yield since the 1960 season.

The hay yields for each of the treatments for the period 1958-1962 are given in Table 12. Yields of Nordan crested and Russian wildrye only are given for the 1961 and 1962 seasons. Check yields of Nordan crested wheatgrass and Russian wildrye in the 1962 season were 1859 pounds of hay per acre and 1338 pounds per acre, respectively. Yield increase with alfalfa was small for Nordan crested and negligible for Russian wildrye. Actually very little alfalfa remains in these plots and what effect on yield there is from this association is largely residual.

However, very substantial increases were obtained from the fertilizer applications. The production of Nordan crested with 33 pounds of nitrogen was 3171 pounds per acre, 1312 pounds more than the check-an increase of over 70 per cent.

The production of Russian wildrye with 33 pounds of nitrogen was 2041 pounds per acre, 703 pounds per acre more than the check. This was an increase of slightly over 50 per cent. Both of these increases would have been profitable on the basis of costs of nitrogen and returns from the additional hay produced. While further increases were obtained with the 67-and 100-pound rates, the returns would not have been economical.

The 5-year average yields for Nordan crested wheatgrass and Russian wildrye are given in Table 13. These data show that for the 5-year period 1858-1962 Nordan crested fertilized with 33 pounds nitrogen per acre produced 594 pounds more hay per acre than did the check. This would be a profitable increase in yield with hay values based at 1 cent per pound and nitrogen costs placed at 10 cents per pound. Uses of higher rates of nitrogen would not be justified on the basis if nitrogen costs and increased yields. The yield increase from Russian wildrye with 33 pounds of nitrogen, averaging as it does only 357 pounds of hay per acre, would not be enough to more than just barely pay for the fertilizer.

The results of the trial to date confirm the conclusion that there is little or no justification for using more than 25 to 30 pounds of nitrogen per acre in annual applications on grasses for hay production. With Russian wildrye even this relatively light application was not justified on the basis of increased hay yields. However, the use of nitrogen on grass used for pasture is an entirely different situation that needs further investigation. The indications are that in this area nitrogen fertilizer may be used more profitably on pasture land than on hayland.

Table 12. Hay Yields From Grasses in Pure Stands, in Mixtures with Alfalfa, and in Pure Stands Fertilized At Three Different Rates 1958-1962
Grasses Year Dry-Weight Yield - Lbs./Acre
Grass
Alone
With
Alfalfa
33 lbs.
N
67 lbs.
N
100 lbs.
N
Nordan crested 1958 1809 1647 1832 2491 2724
Intermediate whtgr. 1958 1729 1706 1992 2466 2714
Lincoln brome 1958 1461 1818 2205 2459 2342
Russian wildrye 1958 941 1111 1224 1613 1984
Nordan crested 1959 1416 1827 2120 1737 2011
Intermediate whtgr. 1959 1033 1372 1244 1468 1325
Lincoln brome 1959 936 1465 1630 1421 1279
Russian wildrye 1959 778 841 975 971 1086
Nordan crested 1960 2134 2485 2910 2713 2714
Intermediate whtgr. 1960 1395 1980 1877 2259 1998
Lincoln brome 1960 1265 1610 2151 2283 2203
Russian wildrye 1960 1287 1312 1710 1823 1997
Nordan crested 1961 1036 1012 1187 1120 1108
Intermediate whtgr. 1961 No yield - stand largely gone
Lincoln brome 1961 No yield - stand largely gone
Russian wildrye 1961 643 616 821 761 777
Nordan crested 1962 1859 2136 3171 3242 3573
Intermediate whtgr. 1962 No yield - stand largely gone
Lincoln brome 1962 No yield - stand largely gone
Russian wildrye 1962 1338 1395 2041 2077 2746

Table 13. Five-Year (1958-1962) Average Hay Yields of Nordan Crested Wheatgrass and Russian Wildrye In Pure Stands, In Mixture With Alfalfa, and In Pure Stands Fertilized With Nitrogen At Three Different Rates
Grasses Dry Weight Yields - Lbs./Acre
Grass Alone With Alfalfa 33 Lbs. N 67 Lbs. N 100 Lbs. N
Nordan Crested 1651 1821 2245 2261 2430
Russian Wildrye 997 1055 1354 1449 1718

FERTILIZER ON NATIVE GRASS

A small plot fertilizer trial on native grass was started in the 1962 season. Plots were established on two sites, one of which was on a terrace above the creek in the livestock farm pasture and the other was on a west-facing slope in the same pasture. The terrace site was somewhat more favorable than the slope site. Individual plots were 10 x 40 feet in a randomized block with four replications. The treatments included check (no nitrogen), 33 pounds nitrogen, 67 pounds, and 100 pounds nitrogen per acre.

Yield data and components of the yield are summarized for both sites in Table 14. Table 15 gives the percentage composition of the yields in three groups of plants, mid-grasses, short grasses, and forbs. The data of Table 14 show that the total yields from both sites for the same treatment were quite comparable, but that the yields had a considerably different composition on each site. The most striking feature of yield from the slope site is the much higher proportion of forbs that it contained as contrasted to the yield from the terrace site.

Grass production on the terrace site was increased from 753 pounds per acre to 1085 pounds per acre with the addition of 33 pounds of nitrogen. With 67 pounds of nitrogen the grass production was further increased to 1752 pounds per acre. Less than 100 pounds of additional grass was obtained from the 100-pound-per-acre treatment.

Most of the actual increases in yield came from increases in production of the short grass component, although, percentage-wise, mid-grass yield increases were as great as short grass increases. Increased yields of forbs on the terrace site did contribute to increase total yield from the fertilizer applications, but these contributions were not of major importance. The most economical increase, considering grass production, forb production, and total yield was obtained with the 67-pound rate of nitrogen on this site.

Grass production on the slope-site was increased from 585 pounds per acre to 847 pounds with 33 pounds of nitrogen, while 67 pounds of nitrogen produced 994 pounds of grass, and 100 pounds of nitrogen produced 1145 pounds of grass. Again most of the actual increase in grass yield came from increased production of short grasses. The data of Table 14 show that an appreciable portion of the increase in total yield on this site came from increased production of both perennial and annual forbs. On the basis of increase in grass yield the use of fertilizer on this site would have been uneconomical.

The percentage composition data given in Table 15 show that on each site the actual composition of the yields from the unfertilized plots was not much different from the percentage composition of the yields from the check plots. This indicates that in general the mid-grass, short grass, and forb components responded in about equal degree to the applied fertilizer and that no major shifts in plant population occurred as the result of the treatments.

There is some indication that the 100-pound rates did stimulate mid-grass production slightly more than they stimulated the other components. The much greater forb population on the upland site than on the terrace site is reflected in the much higher production of forbs on the upland site.

Much of the increased forb production was due to the stimulation of pasture sage (Artemisia frigida).

Table 14. Forage Production on Two Native Grass Sites Fertilized at Three Rates of Nitrogen, 1962 Season
Site Treatment Dry-Weight Yields - Lbs./Acre Total Yield - Lbs./Acre
Mid
Grasses
Short
Grasses
Total
Grasses
Perennial Forbs Annual Forbs Total Forbs
Terrace above creek Check 152 601 753 65 222 287 1040
  33 lbs. N 177 908 1085 28 405 433 1518
  67 lbs. N 309 1443 1752 100 341 441 2193
  100 lbs. N 438 1439 1877 76 481 557 2434
Upland Slope Check 73 512 585 280 198 478 1063
  33 lbs. N 115 732 847 613 214 827 1674
  67 lbs. N 97 897 994 727 310 1037 2031
  100 lbs. N 318 827 1145 484 516 1000 2145

Table 15. Percentage Composition of Yields from Two Native Grass Sites Fertilized at Three Rates of Nitrogen, 1962 Season
Site Treatment Percent Composition of Yield
Mid
Grasses
Short
Grasses
Forbs
Terrace above creek Check 14.6 57.8 27.6
33 lbs. N 11.7 59.8 28.5
67 lbs. N 14.1 65.8 20.1
100 lbs. N 18.0 59.1 22.9
Upland slope Check 6.9 48.1 45.0
33 lbs. N 6.9 43.7 49.4
67 lbs. N 4.8 44.2 51.0
100 lbs. N 14.8 38.6 46.6

SPRING GRAZING TRIAL

The pastures that have been used for the spring grazing trial were grazed for the eighth season in 1962. The grazing period was quite long this year extending from May 3 to July 9, a period of 67 days. The crested wheatgrass pasture fertilized with 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre was stocked with 8 yearling steers, while the other crested wheatgrass pasture (pasture #3) was stocked with 6 steers. Crested-alfalfa pasture #2 was stocked with 6 steers, and crested-alfalfa pasture #4 was stocked with 8 steers. These stocking rates were based on relative productivity of the pastures.

Table 16 summarizes pasture yields and forage utilization on the pastures in the 1962 season. Forage production was very high on the fertilized pasture this season, averaging 2882 pounds per acre dry weight. Utilization on this pasture was also high, 1805 pounds per acre, but even so the steers could not keep up with grass growth and at the end of the grazing period over 1,000 pounds per acre still remained on the ground. Forage production on the unfertilized crested wheatgrass pasture was 1291 pounds per acre of which 942 pounds were utilized during the grazing period.

Crested wheatgrass-alfalfa pasture #2, somewhat surprisingly, produced 1664 pounds of forage per acre, while pasture #4 produced only 1274 pounds per acre. There is not much alfalfa left in either of the pastures, but pasture 2 has somewhat more alfalfa in it than pasture 4, although it has not been quite as productive as pasture 4 over the period of the grazing trial.

Although more forage was consumed off pasture 2 than off pasture 4, the overall percentage utilization was heavier on pasture 4 than on pasture 2.

Table 16. Forage Produced and Forage Utilized by Yearling Steers On Spring Grazed Pasture, 1962 Season
Pasture
No.
Pasture Type Forage
produced-
lbs./acre
(dry weight)
Forage
utilized-
lbs./acre
(dry weight)
Forage
left on
ground
lbs./acre
1 Crested Wheatgrass* 2882 1805 1077
3 Crested Wheatgrass 1291 942 349
2 Crested-alfalfa 1664 1231 433
4 Crested-alfalfa 1274 989 285
*Pasture 1 fertilized with 50 pounds nitrogen per acre on April 4, 1962.

Table 17 gives the animal data obtained on the pastures in the 1962 season. The average seasonal and the daily gains per head were appreciably better than on the fertilized crested wheatgrass pasture than on any of the other pastures. The gain per acre on the fertilized crested wheatgrass pasture, 182.0 pounds, is the highest per acre gain that has been obtained on any of the pastures over the entire period of the study. The other crested wheatgrass pasture, stocked at a lighter rate, showed a per acre gain of 128.3 pounds. The lighter-stocked crested-alfalfa pasture (pasture 2) showed a 132.0 pound per acre gain, while the heavier-stocked crested-alfalfa pasture showed a per acre gain of 174.0 pounds.

Table 17. Performance of Yearling Steers on crested Wheatgrass and Crested-Alfalfa Pastures During Spring Grazing Period From May 3 to July 9, 1962. (Weights and gains in lbs.)
Pasture No. Pasture Type No.
of Steers
Acres
Per
Pasture
Days
on Pasture
Avg. Initial
Wt. Per Steer
Avg. Final Wt. Per Steer Avg. Seasonal Gain Per
Head
Avg.
Daily
Gain Per Head
Gain
Per
Acre
1 Crested Whtgr.* 8 8 67 471 653 182 2.72 182.0
3 Crested Whtgr. 6 8 67 468 639 171 2.55 128.3
 
2 Crested-alfalfa 6 8 67 467 643 176 2.63 132.0
4 Crested-alfalfa 8 8 67 470 644 174 2.60 174.0
*Pasture No. 1 fertilized with 50 lbs. nitrogen per acre.

Table 18 contrasts forage production and gains per acre for the four years on straight crested wheatgrass, on crested-alfalfa, and on crested wheatgrass fertilized with 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre. It should be remembered that there is not much alfalfa left in the crested-alfalfa pastures and the productivity of these pastures is only slightly greater than the productivity of the straight crested wheatgrass pasture. The data of this table show that fertilized crested wheatgrass, for the 4-year period of the comparison, has produced about 57 per cent more forage than straight crested pastures, and 37 per cent more forage than the crested-alfalfa pastures.

Table 18. Forage Production and Gains Per Acre on Spring Grazed Pastures of Crested Wheatgrass, Crested-Alfalfa, and Crested Wheatgrass Plus 50 lbs. of Nitrogen
Pasture Type Year Forage Production-
Lbs./Acre
Gain Per Acre-
Lbs.
Crested Wheatgrass 1959 940 103.2
Crested Wheatgrass 1960 981 101.2
Crested Wheatgrass 1961 852 83.1
Crested Wheatgrass 1962 1291 128.3
4-year average 1016 104.0
Crested and alfalfa 1959 1110 112.5
Crested and alfalfa 1960 1200 137.0
Crested and alfalfa 1961 885 94.0
Crested and alfalfa 1962 1469 153.0
4-year average 1166 124.1
Crested + 50 lbs. N 1959 1153 133.0
Crested + 50 lbs. N 1960 1476 165.0
Crested + 50 lbs. N 1961 884 106.9
Crested + 50 lbs. N 1962 2882 182.0
4-year average 1599 146.7

Beef production per acre has averaged 41 per cent more on fertilized crested than on straight crested, and about 18 per cent more than on crested alfalfa. The actual increase in forage produced over the check yield would do little more than pay for the cost of the fertilizer, with forage figured at 1 cent per pound and fertilizer at 10 cents per pound. However, the extra beef produced, figured at 20 cents per pound, would be substantially profitable as between fertilized crested and straight crested pastures.

Even with the relatively low-producing crested-alfalfa pastures being grazed in this study, though, the extra beef produced with fertilizer would no more than pay for the cost of fertilizer when compared to the average gains per acre produced on crested-alfalfa pastures.

GENERAL PASTURE FERTILIZATION

The crested wheatgrass pastures used for general spring grazing on the livestock farm were fertilized with 25 pounds of nitrogen per acre (75 pounds 33-0-0) in early April of the 1962 season. A series of small check areas were left to determine the influence of the fertilizer on grass yield, and a total of 18 cages were used to determine production on the check and fertilized areas. The results of the cage clipping indicate that the average yield of the fertilized grass was 2867 pounds dry-weight per acre, while the average yield from the check areas was 2161 pounds per acre. The net result of the fertilizer was thus an increase of over 32 per cent in production of grass.

NEW PASTURE SEEDING

The alfalfa was overseeded in the new pasture trial on May 8 and 9. The Nordan crested wheatgrass was seeded on the trial in the late fall of 1961. The alfalfa seedlings made an excellent development during the early part of the season, but grass seedlings showed spotty distribution. Heavy weed growth interfered seriously with the overall establishment of the stands, and by the end of August it looked as though the stands would be too thin for use in a grazing trial in the 1963 season. The actual beginning of the grazing trial will be delayed until the 1964 season.

PERSONAL ACTIVITIES

Correspondence: Thirty-five letters were written in the conduct of business relating to the Dickinson Experiment Station.

Radio Programs and TV Shows:

Radio Programs and TV Shows
Feb. 9, 1962 Pasture Fertilization (recording)
Feb. 28, 1962 Pasture Fertilization (recording)
March 10, 1962 Forage and Beef Yields from Pastures
May 31, 1962 Pasture Management
June 7, 1962 Early Season Grass Growth
July 12, 1962 Intermediate Wheatgrass
Sept. 27, 1962 Fertilizing Native Grass


TV Programs
Feb. 26, 1962 TV Farm Short Course - (WDAY)
May 31, 1962 Bateman's Country Line - (WDAY)

Public Meetings:

Date Meeting Attendance Participation
6/12/62 North Dakota Stockmen's Assoc., Bismarck, North Dakota 200 Talk on crested whtgr. pastures
6/13/62 Grassland Field Day, Mandan, North Dakota 3000 Attended
6/26/62 Lion's Club tour of Station 18 15-minute talk on micro-climate set-up
6/29/62 Farm Judging Tour with Soil Conservation Service 6 Judging conservation work on farms
7/10/62 Tour of microclimate project and grass work ARS personnel 4 Half-day tour
7/18/62 Station Crops Field Day 150 Half-day of tours
7/25/62 Dickinson State Teachers College Conservation Class 16 Grass work at Dickinson
9/22/62 Cub Scout Tour of tree plantings 20 2-hour tour of trees
11/20/62 Career Days, Fargo, Range Management and Conservation 62 Student conferences 2 hours
11/28/62 Rotary Club, Fargo 35 Discussion of Career Day program
12/5/62 Livestock Research Roundup 1200 Tour and 15 minutes on fertilizing grass
12/18/62 Seed Trade Short Course, Fargo 150 Attended and contri- buted to brochure

Scientific Conferences:

Date Meeting Attendance Participation
1/22-26/62 American Society of Range Management, Corpus Christi, Texas 650 Attended and conducted Range Plant Contest
2/15-16/62 GP-6 Range Management Technical Committee, Denver, Colorado 17 Discussions on technical range projects
5/4-5/62 North Dakota Academy of Science, Fargo 85 Attended
7/12-13/62 American Society of Range Management, Northern Plains Section, Havre, Montana 75 Range tour
10/6/62 Northern Plains Section, ASRM, Mandan 25 Attended pasture tour
10/25/62 Soil and Water Conservation Research Needs Committee 29 Discussed plans for research

Publications:

1. Whitman, W. C., D. R. Petersen, and T. J. Conlon. 1962. Results of Clipping Trials with Grasses and Grass-Alfalfa Mixtures. North Dakota Farm Research 22: 4-13.

2. Chapt. 3, "Vegetation of North Dakota", in: Conservation of Natural Resources, Dietrich and Hove, editors. September, 1962 Webb Publ. Co., St. Paul.

3. Note in "Crop and Soils", Dec. 1962 issued: "Grass-alfalfa mix shows promise in study."