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cheatgrass

                                      


Joined: Jun 07, 2011
Posts: 11
Cheatgrass
Not sure if i am in the right category.  If not feel free to move.

We have some ground the is covered with cheatgrass, Our Goats will not eat it, it dries out and be comes a big fire hazard (I have been told it has more BTU's then gasoline) is there any way to get rid of it?  I would like to plant some barley in its place have had little to no success competing with the stuff.
            


Joined: Mar 07, 2011
Posts: 177
Location: California
Controlled burn?
                                      


Joined: Jun 07, 2011
Posts: 11
We burned it for the first 4 years. 
It seam to spread the stuff faster.

I must say i am thinking of a chemical solution at this point just not sure it will help and i hate to do that to the soil.
            


Joined: Mar 07, 2011
Posts: 177
Location: California
Maybe burn or cultivate and then smother? Sheet mulch or UV transmitting plastic to suffocate it after you take it down to ground level? Sounds like the patch is out of commission for gardening anyhow, i.e. it wouldn't hurt to cover it for a season to get a good kill on that stuff.
Chris MacCarlson


Joined: Sep 02, 2010
Posts: 56
Location: Missoula
    
    1
If you want to get rid of it via burning, you have to do so very early in the season (cheatgrass usually goes to seed in early June in montana, and in March / April further south), and with a hot fire, in order to kill all the seeds.  I've known some people to spread a thin layer of forest slash on a cheatgrass infected area, and then burn the whole lot once the cheatgrass starts to get going.

I've also heard of people using nitrogen fixers (varieties of alfalfa) to try and outcompete cheatgrass, particularly in combination with burning.  After letting the legume go for a few years, they kill it and re-plant with more desirables. 

Sorry you have to deal with this awful brome!

http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/graminoid/brotec/all.html#FIRE ECOLOGY
Tate Smith


Joined: Aug 29, 2011
Posts: 21
Cheatgras........UGH! I worked on cheatgrass mitigation all this past summer. Ok, it was all about using herbicides, but still have some experience. So my first suggestion, stop burning. The cheatgrass promotes itself under fire situations. Now that you have it, your going to have it. Some studies show viability in seeds to be up to 30 years (maybe longer) my suggestion would be to start getting rid of seed source. In my personal opinion high utilization by ungulates is the best maneuver. Absolutely graze the crap out of it in early growth. Pending on native composition, natives wont be affected, especially if you have a lot of warm seasons (C4's). Also you need to attack this problem in the fall, if you have high summer/fall moisture you will have another flush come fall. I totally agree with carlson's idea of legumes. Try and plant very aggressive legumes for your area, here in Wyoming it is definitely yellow sweet clover. A tough legume that can stand the grazing impact and help promote natives. If your not doing organics and really want it gone a bit of Plateau could be effective with a lot of other natural mitigation. However the control of Plateau alone is no more than five years. (Sorry had to through the chemicals in thereĀ  ). But this is definitely a problem that you need to attack head on with no mercy, any less and you will have a serious problem.

And a note on the grazing, it actually does work in Southern Colorado. My families farm down there had a small cheatgrass infestation and start rotational grazing, high utilization, hit the cheatgrass paddocks early, 5 years time, no more cheatgrass.

Thanks
-Tate
mike mclellan


Joined: Nov 13, 2011
Posts: 75
Location: Helena, MT zone 4
    
    3
Agreed with the above, DON'T burn it. I had good success in north central Nevada many years ago by cultivation and immediate reseeding with crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum). I know that's not the most desired species as it too exists in large man-made monocultures, but it will outcompete Bromus tectorum and create a "stable" area. Agreed with the Wyoming poster who used yellow sweetclover as an alternative control. If you get your current cheatgrass area stabilized to at least more desirable species, then you can proceed to further succession by planting your desired woody species. Cheatgrass definitely needs disturbance to establish itself which is why it spread so successfully via road rights-of-way and railroads and severe overgrazing. Once established in a thick stand, it perpetuates itself well by periodically burning itself off ( yes, it needs an ignition source-it doesn't spontaneously combust), killing the natives which are in their active growth stages at the same time. Repeated burning finishes off all carbohydrate reserves of perennial species and make cheatgrass dominant (witness millions of acres of the stuff in southern Idaho, northern Nevada, and eastern Oregon). Get your site stabilized with more desirable species and proceed bit by bit to introduce your perennials, woody or herbaceous. Cheat is easiest to control in small areas you might disturb by hand pulling once your down to the "small areas" at that point. Heavily mulching around planted woody vegetation would also create non-favorable conditions for cheat that will inevitably sprout near your new plants.

Cheat also germinates in early fall and could, conceivably be more easily dealt with as tiny seedlings at that point by hand methods. However, reseed to something more desirable then.
Jesus Martinez


Joined: Mar 07, 2011
Posts: 143
hebrewfamily9 McCoy wrote:Cheatgrass
Not sure if i am in the right category.  If not feel free to move.

We have some ground the is covered with cheatgrass, Our Goats will not eat it, it dries out and be comes a big fire hazard (I have been told it has more BTU's then gasoline) is there any way to get rid of it?  I would like to plant some barley in its place have had little to no success competing with the stuff.


lol. good luck. It survives everything and is very pervasive in the dry western US climates. I hated it when I lived in nevada because the seeds get stuck in your socks and poke you.

I'm surprised that goats don't eat it though, I thought cows ate it just fine.
Andrew Parker


Joined: Feb 13, 2012
Posts: 343
Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
    
    4
I got rid of cheatgrass, and a number of other undesirables (and some desirables), in my 1/4 acre backyard with 6 free range chickens. They eat the green grass in Spring and the seeds all year, when there is no snow cover. (There are only two left now, they turned 8 the end of March. The other four made it 'til last year. Lost one to a racoon and three to illness) I don't know how well it would work for larger spaces. When my oldest boy lived at home he would cut the cheatgrass in the unfenced front yard and thresh and winnow the seeds to give to the hens. You might also look into raising chukar partridge. Their primary diet is cheatgrass seed.

You ought to cut the grass, any undesirable grass, before it dries, or at least knock it down somehow, to reduce the spread of wildfire.

I took a wrong turn once while trying to escape a traffic jamb somewhere near Livermore, CA. I dead-ended up in one of those picturesque California hollows, surrounded by high hills sparsely covered in oak -- and carpeted with thick, foot high, bone dry cheatgrass right up to the porch of the lone, wooden, Sunset Magazine, gentleman farmer farmhouse that sat centered in the picture. I was afraid to turn around off the pavement for fear my van might spark a fire so I backed up for a mile before finding a driveway to turn around in. If I lived there, I don't think I could sleep at night for worry.

My paranoia was driven to some extent because I accidentally started a fire in cheatgrass when I was young. It only took an errant spark and it really does seem to burn almost as fast as the wind. Fortunately, it was a very sparse stand and the wind was light that day. It only burned about a 1/4 acre before my group was able to stamp it out. I have seen grass fires with 30 foot flame fronts and have heard more than one anecdotal story of fires moving as fast as 50 or 60 miles an hour (perhaps an exaggeration by frantic drivers not seeing the wall of flames retreat in their rear view mirrors quite as fast as they would have liked.)

I have wondered if it would be viable to harvest cheatgrass and other weed grasses as biomass for fuel. The first round balers were designed to compress straw into small cylindrical bales to fit into straw burning stoves. If you can't beat it, make some beneficial use of it.
 
 
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