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Topics : Species and Forage Variety Trials : Species Fact Sheets : Prairie Grass

Species: Prairie Grass

Additional prairie grass Information via the Forage Information System (FIS)

Characteristics & Adaptation of Prairie Grass

Prairie grass (Bromus wildenowii Kunth.) is a tall growing perennial grass that is suited to well drained soils with medium to high fertility levels and a pH of 6.0 or greater. It is a type of bromegrass, but is different from smooth bromegrass in that it does not have rhizomes and it produces seed heads in each growth period, especially during the summer. Herbage and immature seedheads of prairie grass are highly palatable.

Prairie grass is more drought resistant and continues to grow later in the fall than most cool-season forage grasses. Fall harvesting improves the winter persistence of prairie grass. It will persist for 4 to 6 years in Pennsylvania if properly managed. It matures about the same time or a little later in the spring than orchardgrass. Forage quality of prairie grass compares well with other cool-season grasses but is more palatable. It is an excellent grass for providing forage during droughts and for extending the grazing season well into the fall in Pennsylvania.

Prairie grass is occasionally refered to as rescue grass (Bromus catharticus Vahl). While these grasses are related, they are not the same and rescue grass is less persistent than prairie grass in Pennsylvania's climate.

Adapted Prairie Grass Varieties

'Matua' is the only cultivar of prairie grass that is currently sold in the U.S.. This variety was developed in New Zealand under grazing conditions and has been very productive in Pennsylvania. Other prairie grass varieties are being evaluated by the USDA-Pasture Laboratory and Penn State University for persistence and productivity; however, none of these varieties are commercially marketed in Pennsylvania at this time.