Herbage productivity of prairie grass, reed canary‐grass and phalaris


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The herbage production and quality of swards of three grass species, prairie grass (Bromus willdenowii Kunth), reed canary‐grass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) and phalaris (Phalaris tuberosa L.) were compared with perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) and hybrid ryegrass (L. perenne L. ×L. muitiflorum Lam.) under 6–cut (experiment 1) and 4–cut (experiment 2) regimes over 3 years at Ayr; annually, 360 kg ha‐1 fertilizer N were applied. At Edinburgh prairie grass was compared with Italian ryegrass (L. multiflorum Lam.), timothy (Phleum pratense L.) and cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata L.) under an annual 4–cut regime for 3 years (experiment 3); fertilizer N application totalled 350 kg ha‐1 annually. Prairie grass gave the highest annual dry matter (DM) production at Ayr, averaging 11·99 t ha‐1 in experiment 1 and 15·62 t ha‐1 in experiment 2. Reed canary‐grass was much less productive whilst phalaris did not persist after harvest year 1. On average, prairie grass gave 8–10% more DM than the three ryegrasses in the 6‐cut system but its advantage was much less under the 4‐cut regime. In experiment 3, the DM production of prairie grass and Italian ryegrass were similar in year 1, but following winter damage prairie grass gave the lowest production in subsequent harvest years. Prairie grass had digestibility (OMD) values lower than the ryegrass but higher than reed canary‐grass, timothy and cocksfoot. The water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) concentrations in prairie grass were markedly higher than in timothy and cocksfoot but lower than those in Italian ryegrass. Prairie grass had relatively low P and Mg concentrations. Reed canary‐grass had relatively low OMD and Ca, but high N, P, K and Mg contents. It is concluded that prairie grass may have potential in the UK as a special‐purpose species for conservation management but mainly in the milder climatic areas. The Phalaris species evaluated had disappointing agronomic potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-425
Number of pages9
JournalGrass and Forage Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPrint publication - Dec 1991


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