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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)


Reed Canarygrass Harvest Management

Reed canarygrass can be used for pasture, hay or silage. Recovery following defoliation is excellent in the spring and early summer and is fair to good in late summer and early fall. However, it is frost-sensitive and will turn brown quickly after early fall frosts.

Reed canarygrass is high yielding when cut for hay or silage. Highest yield is obtained when harvested at heading. In contrast, highest quality is obtained before seed heads begin to appear and declines rapidly thereafter. This change in quality is primarily due to increases in portions of the stem relative to the leaf. There is not a close relationship between time of first harvest and stand persistence. Regrowth after harvesting reed canarygrass will be leafy with stem elongation but no seed heads will be produced.

When using reed canarygrass for pasture, excessive forage growth must be avoided to maintain quality and palatability. Animals who have a choice will often choose grasses other than reed canarygrass. This is accentuated if the reed canarygrass is a high alkaloid variety or is allowed to become mature before grazing. Growth starts early in the spring with grazing generally available by the third or fourth week in April. Approximately 60% of the total yield of reed canarygrass is produced by July. Maintain the grass below 10 to 12 inches tall during the rapid spring growth of May and June.Short duration rotational grazing with a heavy grazing pressure will allow the best utilization and greatest animal gains per acre. In addition, rotational grazing is recommended to allow hay harvesting of the ungrazed paddocks during the spring. Reed canarygrass should not be grazed closer than 3 to 4 inches above the ground. A recovery period following grazing will also improve productivity.