The University of Arizona

Clipping and Japanese brome reduce western wheatgrass standing crop.

M.R. Haferkamp, R.K. Heitschmidt, M.G. Karl

Abstract


Japanese brome (Bromus japonicus Thunb.) and downy brome (Bromus tectorum L.), introduced annuals, have invaded many northern mixed-prairie plant communities. This study determined the effect of removing Japanese brome and clipping western wheatgrass [Pascopyrum smithii Rydb. (Love)] on aboveground forage production of a western wheatgrass dominated northern mixed-prairie community. During early spring 1993, a wet year, and 1995, a drier year, western wheatgrass tillers were clipped to ground level in May or June and Japanese brome seedlings were left undisturbed or removed in circular, 1-m2 plots on a clay-pan field site. Western wheatgrass standing crop and tiller densities were estimated by clipping and counting in May and June, and these plus community standing crops were estimated in all plots after Japanese brome matured in mid July. Year effects were significant for standing crop and tiller density due to annual variation in amount and distribution of fall, spring, and early summer precipitation. Conditions were most favorable for tiller initiation of western wheatgrass and germination of annual brome seed in fall 1994 and for herbage production in 1993. Clipping western wheatgrass tillers reduced accumulated standing crop 230 to 350 kg ha-1 and reduced tiller weight by 17 to 58%. Standing crop of western wheatgrass was increased 102 kg ha-1 with removal of Japanese brome, while total standing crop was reduced 284 kg ha-1 with brome removal. Increased standing crop of western wheatgrass appeared to result from increased tiller density rather than increased tiller weight. Removal of Japanese brome from northern mixed prairie plant communities may increase production of associated perennial grasses, but managers should also expect a short-term decrease in total standing crop.

Keywords


density;interspecific competition;Bromus japonicus;ambient temperature;rain;Bromus tectorum;weight;Pascopyrum smithii;tillering;tillers;biomass;Montana;grazing;forage

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