Hay Yields of Intermediate Wheatgrass Cultivars
By John D. Berdahl, Forage Geneticist, Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory, Mandan, ND


Yield data in Table 1 are from a test that was dormant-seeded on summer fallow at the Central Grasslands Research Extension Center on November 21, 1989. Stand establishment in the following year was excellent. Individual plots in this study consisted of five 20-foot rows spaced 14 inches apart. Intermediate wheatgrass has moderate spread form rhizomes, and a single row of Russian wildrye was seeded between each plot to keep each entry separate. Plots were replicated four times. No fertilizer or herbicides were applied for the duration of the test. Plots were cut once each year, similar to management from haying, and regrowth was not grazed. Good stands were maintained, but nitrogen deficiency was apparent 4 years after the plots were established.

Reliant and Oahe were not statistically different in hay yields and were the highest yielding entries in this test (Table 1). In other tests, Manska typically has averaged 10 to 15% less than Reliant in hay yields. Manska produces more tillers with finer stems than other current intermediate wheatgrass cultivars, and has produced high average daily gains in grazing tests with yearling steers. Stands of intermediate wheatgrass pastures thin out under heavy grazing pressure, and it is necessary to allow pastures to recover in the fall. Intermediate wheatgrass has produced sustained high yields in grass-alfalfa mixtures used for hay. Reliant averages about 2 days later in heading date than other intermediate wheatgrass cultivars, and its maturity matches the late-bud stage of alfalfa better than other cultivars. Reliant produces higher hay yields than smooth bromegrass, and it more closely matches alfalfa maturity.

 

Other Cultivars Compared to Intermediate Wheatgrass

In earlier tests conducted at CGREC, NewHy, a cultivar developed from a cross between quackgrass and bluebunch wheatgrass, and Regar meadow bromegrass have been compared with intermediate wheatgrass in tests at the Central Grasslands Research Extension Center. NewHy, developed at Logan, Utah, and Regar, developed at Aberdeen, Idaho, have both persisted well under hay management. Hay yields of both grasses have averaged about 65% of intermediate wheatgrass (average yields of Reliant, Manska, and Oahe). NewHy has salt tolerance similar to tall wheatgrass but has better forage quality and regrowth potential. NewHy has only mildly spreading rhizomes in contrast to the overly aggressive spread of quackgrass, one of its parents. NewHy would be a good choice for pasture or hay on ground that has moderate salinity problems. Regar meadow bromegrass, a bunchgrass that is distinctly different from smooth bromegrass, has excellent regrowth potential when rainfall is adequate and has higher forage quality than intermediate wheatgrass. Yields of meadow bromegrass have been relatively low in dry years.


Table 1. Dry matter yields of intermediate wheatgrass cultivars at Central Grasslands Research Extension Center.

Cultivar

1991

1992

1993

1994

1996*
5-yr
Average
Relative
Yield
  -------------------------------lb/acre------------------------------ %
Reliant 4542 8000 7576 4340 2377 5367 100
Manska 3218 6549 5600 2870 1808 4009 75
Mandan 759 3762 7224 6035 3767 2078 4573 85
Oahe 4248 7937 6982 3181 2150 4900 91
Slate 3666 7038 5798 3921 2118 4508 84
Greenleaf 2841 6043 5831 3243 1839 3959 74
Chief 3650 6909 5486 2620 1784 4090 76
Clarke 4249 7786 4670 3255 1862 4364 81
Average 3772 7186 5997 3400 2002 4471  
5% lsd 651 777 1666 1056 462 624  
*Data for 1995 was not available

Dr. John Berdahl
Northern Great Plains Research
PO Box 459
Mandan, ND 58554-0459
Phone: 701-667-3004
E-mail: BERDAHLJ@mandan.ars.usda.gov

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