Controlling Cheatgrass is Part of Managing Wildfire Risk - Learn How; UNL CropWatch, June 28, 201
June 28, 2013
Learn What Works on July 31 Tour and Program
Cheatgrass / downy brome (Bromus tectorum L.) is a winter annual grass that’s invasive and prone to populating disturbed or overgrazed sites. After wildfires, it usually is one of the first plants to appear. It can quickly retard native species from normal growth by exploiting the water and nutrients early in the growing season. Cheatgrass is palatable to livestock early in its growth cycle, but is considered poor grazing forage at best. Once the cheatgrass has cured out, it becomes a fire hazard and burns readily.
Figure 1. Cheatgrass is an invasive grass that readily invades disturbed or overgrazed rangeland, pushign native species out. Following the 2012 drought, areas of cheatgrass are more extensive than normal and could become a fuel source for wildfires as temperatures heat up and plants dry out.
This spring, I have observed more cheatgrass than normal in the rangeland and pastures of the Nebraska Panhandle and eastern Wyoming. This is due to several factors, including drought, overgrazing, and stress on the native grass species. In some areas, native grasses are not visible, but cheatgrass is. The cheatgrass extends from the roadsides, through the pastures, up into the canyons on the Wildcat Hills and Pine Ridge. This will pose a huge wildfire threat as the summer progresses and our weather becomes drier and hotter. Just one dry lightning strike could start an extensive wildfire under these conditions.
To limit later problems, it’s important to get control of cheatgrass now. The Wyoming Cheatgrass Taskforce will be hosting a Cheatgrass Tour Wednesday, July 31 in Douglas, Wyo. The tour will begin at 8 a.m. with registration and end at noon with lunch at the Converse County Weed and Pest Control District office. Tour guides and speakers include: Brian Mealor, University of Wyoming Extension Weed Specialist, and Cheryl Schwartzkopf, Converse County Weed and Pest Supervisor.
Topics will include
- chemical treatment options and a look at chemical plots and field scale treatments;
- biological / bacteria management using Pseudomonas fluorescens D7 bacteria, being developed by Dr. Anne C. Kennedy.
Schwartzkopf said the tour and program will cover “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of how cheatgrass has been managed in Converse County after wildfires.
Nebraska Invasive Plants Workshop July 30
On July 30 there will be a day-long workshop and tour on Russian olive and salt cedar removal and management and habitat restoration along the North Platte River at Douglas, Wyo. It is being hosted by the Upper North Platte River Weed Management Area and the Pathway to Water Quality. Lunch and dinner will be provided.
There are no fees for either workshop or tour; however registrations are required so meals can be provided. RSVP by July 10 to Converse County Weed and Pest Control District at 307-358-2775.
Extension Educator, UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center