Agronomy and Horticulture Department

 

Date of this Version

July 1998

Comments

Published in JOURNAL OF RANGE MANAGEMENT 51(4), July 1996.

Abstract

Morphological development of grasses has numerous implications to rangeland management including the timing and amount of herbivory. The objective of this study was to quantify the developmental morphology of prairie sandreed [Calamovilfa longifolia (Hook.) Scrihn.] and sand bluestem [Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus (Nash) Fem.] tiller populations. Tier populations of these 2 grasses were studied for 2 years in the Nebraska Sandhills. Plant development was evaluated using a growth staging system which quantifies the development of tiller populations. A morphological growth index for each species was calculated from either the weighted average of tiller numbers reported as mean stage count (MSC) or tiller weight reported as mean stage weight (MSW) and correlated with the independent variables of growing degree days (GDD) and day of year (DOY). Correlation coefficients with the independent variables were greater than 0.97 for MSC and MSW within years and greater than 0.90 between years. Greater rainfall and warmer temperatures in 1991 increased the number of tillers in the more advanced morphological stages in prairie sandreed, but tiller weight rather than tiller number increased in more advanced stages of sand bluestem. A majority of the harvested tillers were vegetative throughout the sampling period but by the end of the growing season, a wide range of morphological stages were present. The use of grazing to prevent the formation of culmed tillers in these grasses may be unnecessary because of the high proportion of vegetative tillers and the wide range of morphological stages available for selection by livestock.

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