What is Cheatgrass- Cheatgrass might be the most dangerous and invasive plant you’ve never heard of. It is also known as downy brome, bronco grass, and downy chess.
Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is an invasive annual weed found in the United States. Most popular on lawns and roadsides, this weed is finding its way into more and more backyards and neighborhoods.
Cheatgrass is native to parts of Europe and Asia. Settlers brought cheatgrass to North America in the 19th century. Poor farming and ranching practices allowed cheatgrass to catch on.
Cheatgrass easily adapts to different soil and moisture conditions. species begin to grow. The vegetation period is relatively short, the plants sprout in autumn and die off in late spring.
Those are all nice names for a surprisingly dangerous plant. We’ll talk about where cheatgrass comes from, why it’s dangerous, and what you can do to stop the spread of this invasive weed.
What is Cheatgrass? Identify Cheatgrass And Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses add texture and variety to your lawn and germinate in spring. Cheatgrass seeds germinate in the fall and the plants stay small all winter.
Easiest to identify in spring when the available moisture allows it to produce reddish-brown seed heads. This clump of grass grows 10 to 20 inches tall and is easily identified by its drooping seed heads.
These seed heads are soft and fluffy, earning cheatgrass the nickname downy brome. The best way to identify harmful weeds and other unfamiliar plants are to look at pictures on the Internet. Many free smartphone apps will help you identify plants simply by taking a photo and comparing it to the database.
Elimination of Cheatgrass
Due to the fast-spreading qualities of cheatgrass, you will likely need to use an integrated approach to eliminate the plants. Cultivating the lawn is an effective way to get rid of grass weeds.
Aggressively growing annual grasses will smother unwanted weeds.
1.Prevent Cheatgrass Invasion Identify The Invader
Knowing your enemy will help you defeat them and prevent an infestation. Once you know what to look for, you can stop the spread before it starts. Early detection makes it easy for you to remove plants by hand or with herbicides.
Keep soil moist and improve conditions for perennial grasses that displace invaders. Cheatgrass prefers dry conditions.
3. Avoid Excessive Vegetation Wear
Overgrazing, vehicle malfunctions, and other wear and tear invite cheatgrass. Monitor new growth and be proactive in eradicating harmful weeds while encouraging native growth.
Why Is It Bad?
Forest fires, for example. Unlike native perennial grasses, cheatgrass is an annual grass that grows in spring and then dies back between late April and June, depending on local rainfall patterns. And it just so happens that it dies just in time to fuel the western fire season.
Cheatgrass dries out much sooner than native vegetation, significantly prolonging the historic fire season. In addition, cheatgrass has very fine leaves and stems, making it easily ignited and causing fires to spread quickly.
Cheatgrass plants also grow densely together (up to 10,000 plants per square meter) creating a continuous fuel base. At its core, cheatgrass is like the tissue paper that covers the landscape a highly flammable fuel that’s quick to ignite and quickly spread.
Because native plant communities are not adapted to frequent wildfires, these fires create even more grasslands dominated by cheatgrass. adapted to efficiently use the increased nitrogen in the soil after a fire and to penetrate the empty spaces created by the fire.
Cheatgrass creates a vicious cycle: wildfires encourage more cheatgrass, which in turn further increases the impact and likelihood of wildfires.
How Does Cheatgrass Affect Wildlife and Grassland Health?
It short-circuits many of the important ecological cycles. For example, cheatgrass has a shallow root system most roots are concentrated in the top 12 inches of soil so that it absorbs much of the water and nutrients during the spring growing season and outperforms native plants by limited resources.
The loss of Native Plants means they lose their deeper root systems that create healthy soil. The roots of sagebrush and other native shrubs can grow as deep as 8 feet, which helps recycle nutrients and utilize water deeper in the soil profile.
Cheatgrass also affects the diversity and abundance of soil microorganisms, which may affect the ability of native plants to grow in the future. As for wildlife, the biggest threat to cheatgrass is habitat loss due to increasing wildfires and the conversion of various native plant communities into monocultures of annual grass.
Additionally, cheatgrass does not meet the needs of most wildlife species. It does not stay green long enough to provide nutritious forage in summer and fall, nor does it provide the vegetation structure many species need for cover or nesting sites.
How Big Is The Problem?
According to a report from 1905 that the U.S Forest Service sent to Congress acknowledging cheatgrass as an emerging problem. Aldo Leopold wrote an essay entitled “Cheat Takes Over” in the 1940s. It could see into the future and warn us to beware of this invasive weed.
Unfortunately, he was right. Today, cheatgrass is one of the major invasive species problems in the western United States, covering an estimated 50-70 million acres. The scale of the problem tends to overwhelm us.
What Can We Do To Reduce The Risks
Recovery is difficult in an environment that receives only 12 inches of rainfall in a good year. We’re not getting rid of cheatgrass, but we can try to keep it as a minor part of the plant community rather than a majority of the species.
We have several different approaches that can reduce or eliminate cheatgrass. These include herbicides, mechanical treatments, and specific livestock grazing.
However, simply removing cheatgrass does not solve the problems associated with it. We also need to restore native plants that can successfully compete with them. For example, deep-rooted perennial clumps can consume water and nutrients unavailable to cheatgrass. , and are very competitive once established.
A common goal of private and public landowners is to increase the resilience and resilience of the ecosystem. This means that the sagebrush range will become more resilient and able to recover after a wildfire, which in turn will make it more resilient to future cheatgrass invasions.
BLM, USFS, and NRCS are partners in this resilience and resilience effort.
Caring for our perennial grasses is key to restoring the system’s resilience.
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Cheatgrass
Five Reasons Why You Don’t Want Cheatgrass In Your Lawn
Almost all non-native plant and animal species cause grass weed and other lawn problems. problems. As an invasive species, cheatgrass is no different.
1. Fire Hazard
The Biggest Concern About Cheatgrass is flammability.
With fine leaves and stems, cheatgrass ignites almost as quickly as gasoline. The heat from a vehicle or the ashes from a campfire can be enough to start a cheatgrass fire.
You can read more about the dangers of cheatgrass.
2. Compete With Native Species
Anything invasive competes for resources with native plant and grass species. The US Department of Agriculture and Forestry is very concerned about its ability to overgrow native vegetation ranges.
Cheatgrass is particularly good at this and often creates a monoculture. Many native plants do not thrive well in soil with a high concentration of nitrogen after a forest fire. This adjustment automatically gives Cheatgrass an advantage.
Capybara cheatgrass also has shallow root systems that grab much of the available water before it has a chance to penetrate deeper into the roots of native species. These shallow roots can lead to soil erosion.
3. Spread Easily
Cheatgrass not only wins the competition for resources but also spreads easily and germinates quickly. These winter annuals typically set seed in the fall, dormant in the winter, and flower in early spring when the weather returns to warm weather and rain.
Each plant can produce up to 5,000 cheatgrass seeds, which can go dormant for up to three years. Harms Pets cheatgrass seeds find their way in and out of pets without them noticing.
Given the right opportunity, however, these seeds can be very dangerous. If the seeds get stuck in places like the toes, ears, or nose, they can migrate into the tissues. This causes extreme irritation and needs to be treated by a veterinarian.
Pets can also inhale trapped grass seeds, which can cause problems. to your lungs and stomach. The seeds are hairy with many sharp edges or bristles.
This allows them to attach themselves to small birds and animals and gain access to new targets. Cheatgrass seeds also travel with wind and water like most other seeds.
Read Also: How To Improve Your Lawn (With Soil Amendments)
Why Is Cheatgrass A Problem For Homeowners
There is a fire hazard 30 feet from your home. If there is a trap near your home, remove it for at least the first 30 feet of your home and other buildings, preferably before it dries up.
Use a lawnmower with a chopper blade or mow with a weed killer, rake, and remove. Should areas treated with cheatgrass be replanted? Regardless of the cheatgrass control method, replanting after treatment is generally recommended.
Desirable vegetation occupying the treated area, cheatgrass, or other undesirable weeds will be restored. Once desirable vegetation is established, it must be properly managed to keep it healthy and competitive with the surrounding cheatgrass plants.
Cheatgrass has a very short life cycle and is a prolific seed producer. It is a “winter annual”, meaning that it usually germinates in autumn and sprouts in winter (often under snow) without snow in spring.
It sprouts and greens very quickly in early spring, blooms (yes, grasses have “flowers”), is wind-pollinated or self-pollinated, and then the seeds fall off and/or attach to animals. and the passers-by.
The plants die after sowing; Plants that sprout in spring are usually dead by midsummer. Trap Grass can also sprout, flower and seed in the fall before winter. Catch Grass seeds usually germinate when conditions are favorable but can remain dormant in the soil for several years.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cheatgrass
What Should I Do If My Dog Is Exposed?
Take a good look at your puppy’s paws, ears, face, and body. Carefully remove any seeds or pods you find. This is similar to looking for ticks or other small hitchhikers. If your dog is acting strangely, has red and irritated skin, or just feels something is wrong, make an appointment with your vet immediately.
Is Cheatgrass Toxic To Humans?
You probably don’t want to add cheatgrass to your salad. A concern here, however, is the high flammability and impact on local ecology.
Do Any Animals Eat Trap Grass?
Many grazing animals like to eat young trap grass. Cows, sheep, and goats eat small clusters before the plants develop seed pods and die back in mid-spring. Livestock often eats trap grass along with cool-season perennial grasses.
Is Foxtail Or Barley The Same As Cheatgrass?
While just as annoying, there are differences between trap grass and this other annual species. Foxtail grows much larger than trap grass. Some foxtails exceed 3 feet, with fuzzy seed pods about 8 inches long. Although invasive, foxtail does not cause a fire.
The main concern here is the many spikelets in each boll. These can easily stick to animals, clothing, and other outdoor items.
What Does Cheatgrass Do With Dogs?
Once a cheatgrass pod attaches itself to a pet, usually a dog, it can begin to migrate into the tissue. The most common places these cause problems in dogs are between the toes the ears, and the nose. However, trapping cannabis can cause problems in other tissues, including the lungs (if inhaled) or the abdomen.
How Do I Get Rid Of Trapped?
Plucking, cutting, or digging by hand: For small infestations of cheatgrass, hand-picking or digging before seeding (about 1 week after flowering) will reduce the seeds but may not eliminate the infestation. Several consecutive years of manual removal may be required to reduce seed bank reserves.
Forage quality and yields vary greatly. It has a very short growing season during which food varies from poor to good. Good to good for livestock before inflorescences emerge, then of little value except for watershed protection.
They have sharp edges that can injure the eyes and mouths of grazing animals and contaminate the fleece. Deer and pronghorn graze on it in spring while it is actively growing. Provides some food for upland birds and rodents.
Chukars, like partridges, are particularly adapted to grasslands infested with trap grass where it provides food and shelter. used by turtle doves and other upland wildfowl.