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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Virginia wildrye and eastern bottlebrush grass as potential native cool-season forage grasses in the Northeast USA
Year: 2002
Author(s): Sanderson, M. A., Skinner, R. H., Kujawaski, J., van der Grinten, M.
Source Title: Proceedings of the Third Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 284-291
Original Publication:  
Abstract: Most forage grasses used in the northeastern USA are introduced species. Our objective was to evaluate northeastern collections of the native cool-season grasses Virginia wildrye and Eastern bottlebrush grass for yield, persistence, and nutritive value. Sixteen accessions, one cultivar, and one commercial ecotype of Virginia wildrye and 13 accessions and one commercial ecotype of bottlebrush grass were transplanted into single-row field plots during summer of 2000 at Beltsville, Md, Rock Springs, Pa, and Big Flats, Ny. Two orchardgrass cultivars were the checks. Yield and morphology (leaf width, length, mass; tiller density; plant height) data were collected during 2001 and 2002. Leaf morphology varied widely among accessions of both species. Yields of wildrye ranged from 8 to 75 g of dry matter per plant in 2001 among locations, whereas yields of bottlebrush grass ranged from 4 to 40 g. Orchardgrass yielded an average of 20 to 140 g per plant. Grasses performed better at Big Flats, NY where soils were deeper and the weather cooler and wetter. Preliminary results from 2001 indicate few differences among accessions in fiber, crude protein, and in vitro digestibility; most of the variation in nutritive value was associated with differences in leaf-to-stem ratio. Both wildrye and bottlebrush grass were very sensitive to drought. Bottlebrush grass was eliminated at Rock Springs by insect damage (tentatively identified as a Sphenophorus spp) to growing points and roots. These results indicate limited forage potential for Eastern bottlebrush grass; however there are a few promising accessions of Virgina wildrye.
Publisher: The North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC, October 1-3, 2002. Omnipress, Madison, WI
Editor(s): J. Randall