||Native warm-season grasses like big bluestem, little bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass, tall dropseed, and prairie dropseed are high-yielding, high-quality forages that have potential as a source of perennial summer forage. In eastern South Dakota, warm-season grasses produce 70 to 80% of their annual yield after June 1. On the other hand, cool season grasses such as smooth bromegrass and Kentucky bluegrass produce more than 75% of their annual yield before June 1 and often are nearly dormant and unproductive during the
heat of the summer. Warm-season grasses can provide grazable
forage during the summer after cool-season pastures have been
utilized and have gone dormant. Warm-season grasses are well adapted to most soils in eastern South Dakota, making them an attractive alternative on less productive sites or marginal cropland. Warm-season grasses can be successfully utilized in simple mixtures or monocultures. However, they respond to grazing differently than cool-season grasses and therefore must be managed differently. Improper management of warm-season grasses can result in poor livestock performance, declining yields, and damage to stands.
Native warm-season grasses evolved under brief periods of
high-intensity grazing so they are not well suited to lengthy
periods of continuous stocking or close, frequent grazing.
Proper grazing management will optimize both yield and quality
of warm-season grasses while maintaining a vigorous stand.