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Topics : Species and Forage Variety Trials : Species Fact Sheets : Reed Canarygrass

Species: Reed Canarygrass

Additional reed canarygrass information via the Forage Information System (FIS)


Characteristics & Adaptation of Reed Canarygrass

Reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) is a tall, leafy, high-yielding perennial. It is a cool- season grass which is greater in winterhardiness and more resistant to foliar diseases than other cool-season grasses grown in Pennsylvania. The plants spread and thicken from short rhizomes, creating a dense sod. If not grazed or clipped, plants will reach heights exceeding 6 feet under high fertility conditions.

Reed canarygrass does well on most Pennsylvania soils except droughty sands. It is a "natural" for poorly drained soils because of its tolerance to flooding and standing water. In addition to its adaptation to wet sites, reed canarygrass is one of the most drought-tolerant of the cool season grasses (Table 1). Thus, under proper management this species does well on upland sites.

Adapted Reed Canarygrass Varieties

Older varieties (Common, Rise, Vantage) contain high levels of alkaloids which make these reed canarygrasses less palatable than other grasses. Newer varieties (developed since 1976) contain lower levels of alkaloids and are more palatable. Low-alkaloid varieties that have performed well in Pennsylvania are Palaton and Venture. Both varieties are high yielding, have good winter hardiness and can be used for pasture or in mixture with a legume for hay and silage.