Caucasian bluestem, control, plant frequency, rangelands, yellow bluestem


Two main species of old world bluestems (OWB), yellow bluestem (Bothriochloa ischaemum) and Caucasian bluestem (Bothriochloa bladhii), have encroached on rangelands, pastures, and road right-of-ways in Kansas. Patches of these OWB have been shown to reduce species diversity and abundance at multiple trophic levels, and pose a long-term threat to native plant, insect, rodent, and grassland bird populations. These OWB species are utilized by cattle early in the growing season, directly following prescribed burns, and during droughts when other forages lack water uptake and may go dormant. However, these OWB species mature more quickly than native grass species and quickly form stem tissue, thus losing palatability to grazing animals rather rapidly compared to native grass species. In native pastures where OWB has invaded, native species may become overutilized because animals avoid the OWB. This weakens the native grasses and allows OWB to have a competitive advantage for moisture and nutrient resources. Over time, patches of OWB have expanded from 2.5 to 3.5 times their original patch size in 9 years, or a 15% annually compounded patch growth rate, when left uncontrolled. Several herbicides have been analyzed for OWB control, but glyphosate and imazapyr are the two herbicides that in the past have been shown to reduce OWB abundance most effectively in pastures. However, other herbicides with new label information for use in different forms of grassland or recreation areas may also have some activity on OWB and provide control. This study was performed to test several alternative herbicides with no known prior history of evaluation for control of OWB.


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