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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Stand persistence and seedling recruitment for eastern gamagrass grazed continuously for different durations
Year: 1998
Author(s): Aiken, G.E., Springer, T.L.
Source Title: Crop Science
Source Type: Journal
pages: 1592-1596
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: Eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides L.) is a warm-season perennial grass with significant forage potential. Grazing must be carefully managedfo r this grass to persist. A 3-yr study was conducted to evaluate the persistence of eastern gamagrass with stocking rates designed to graze eastern gamagrass to a height of 30 to 38 cm and then deferring grazing for the remainder of the season. The experimental site was on a Leadvale silt-loam soil (fine-silty, silceous, thermic Typic Fragidult). Pastures were stocked at different rates to impose the following treatments: (i) long duration continuous stocking at a light stocking rate (LDLS; 3.0 steers ha1), (ii) intermediate duration continuous stocking at a moderate stocking rate (IDMS; 4.9 steers hal), and (iii) short duration continuous stocking at a heavy stocking rate (SDHS; 7.4 steers hal)). Length of grazing averaged 142 6 ( SEM) d for LDLS, 110 8 d for IDMS, and 85 7 d for SDHS. New seedlings of eastern gamagrass emerged each spring at similar densities in all three treatments. Some of these plants survived and increased plant densities over the 3 yr for LDLSa nd IDMS, but not for SDHS. Concentrations of nitrogen (N) and total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC) stored in proaxes were similar among the three grazing treatments in April at the initiation of spring growth, and in October just before the onset of winter dormancy. Ungrazed plants had higher TNC than grazed plants in October, but the grazed plants had sufficient reserves to retain their vigor for 3 yr. Eastern gamagrass can persist under a variety of stocking rates if grazing is deferred for the remainder of the growing season when canopy height falls to 30 to 38 cm.