Date of this Version
Intensive grazing strategies for the Nebraska Sandhills must be based on time and frequency of defoliation of key warm-season grasses. A 3-year field study was conducted in the Nebraska Sand-hills to determine the effects of defoliation on yield and bud and tiller number of sand bluestem [Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus (Nash) Fern.] and prairie sandreed [Calamovilfa longifolia (Hook.) Scribn.]. Defoliation (7 cm) treatments imposed on a 1.5 X 1-m plot were: a single defoliation on 10 June, 10 July, or 10 August; 2 successive defoliations on 10 June and 10 August; or 3 successive defoliations on 10 June, 10 July, and 10 August. All plots were harvested in October to obtain aftermath yield. Control plots were harvested only at the end of the growing season (October). Defoliation treatments were initiated in 1986, 1987, and 1988 on different plots and the effect of year of initiation as well as the effect of 3 successive years of repeated treatment (1986 plots) was evaluated. Annual dry matter (DM) yield, and bud and tiller numbers were measured. Following the initial year of treatment multiple defoliations increased yield of both grasses while bud and tiller numbers were similar to those of the control plants. After 3 years of repeated treatment, annual DM yield of sand bluestem for all defoliation treatments was lower than the control. A single defoliation of sand bluestem in August or a June-July-August defoliation reduced bud number compared to other treatments and the control. A June-August defoliation of prairie sandreed over a 1 year period increase annual DM yield compared to all treatments and the control although defoliation treatments reduced bud number. The optimum time and frequency of defoliation for annual DM yield and bud and tiller number was 8 single June or July defoliation for sand bluestem and a June-August defoliation for prairie sandreed.