Skip to Main Content

The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Root and shoot characteristics of prairie grass compared to tall fescue and smooth brome grass during establishment
Year: 1994
Author(s): Shaffer, J. A., Jung, G. A., Narem, U. R.
Source Title: New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research
Source Type: Journal
pages: 143-151
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: The root and top characteristics of ’Grasslands Matua’ prairie grass (Bromus willdenowii Kunth) during establishment were compared with ’Johnstone’ tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) and ’Saratoga’ smooth brome grass (Bromus inermis Leyss). ’Grasslands Matua’ was slower to emerge than both tall fescue and smooth brome grass, but by first harvest (52 days after sowing), prairie grass had longer tillers (51 versus 38 and 26 cm), a greater number of seed heads (15 versus 0.3 and 0.1), and a higher stem/ leaf ratio (0.95 versus 0.14 and 0.01) than smooth brome grass and tall fescue, respectively. There were no differences in 2-year mean tiller populations, leaf area, leaf yield, and stem yield between prairie grass and smooth brome grass at first harvest. Twenty days after sowing there were no differences in root length density among the three species. However, by first harvest, prairie grass at 20 cm depth had 135% of the root counts of the other two grasses. At 40 cm, prairie grass had 130 and 200% of the counts of smooth brome grass and tall fescue, respectively. The increased rooting of prairie grass was even more pronounced at the 80 cm depth where it had 160% of the smooth brome grass counts and 310% of the tall fescue root counts. Trend analysis resulted in linear, quadratic, and cubic responses for root growth with soil depth for smooth brome grass, tall fescue, and prairie grass, respectively.