Grazing Crested Wheatgrass in the West

Crested wheatgrass is a Russian native that was purposely introduced to rangelands in the American West as a forage and an erosion control tool starting in the 1900s. It became especially widely used starting shortly after the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 through the fifties when land managers were working on restoring rangelands impacted by heavy grazing. It adapted well to its new home and now ranchers find it almost everywhere. Here Jim Gerrish shows how it works in his grazing system as part of his mid-June rotation. Not all of the ranch unit we manage is under the pivots. We also have about a hundred acres of flood irrigated land and another couple hundred acres of desert pasture. Some is native, but the majority was seeded to crested wheatgrass sometime in the 70s or before. No one seems to quite know for sure when it was seeded. Generally the desert area gets grazed only once a year, although last year with our 11+ inches of rain during the growing season, we did graze it twice. Some of those acres have a fair bit of cheatgrass & mustards, so this is generally the time of year we try to capture the limited value of those two species.This field is the cleanest field, but also typically low in production as there is almost nothing besides the crested out there. This picture shows a common growth form for Crested Wheatgrass. Here it is 40 to 50 years after i

All the grazing management tips you need

Subscribe to read this article and over 2,500 more!

Subscribe today!

If you're already a subscriber, log in here.

2 thoughts on “Grazing Crested Wheatgrass in the West

  1. Hi John, My understanding is that crested is just very efficient with water & nutrient uptake making it a very competitive plant. I don’t think there is any compelling evidence indicating it is actually excreting alleleopathic compounds. Jim

  2. A question for Jim:
    I’ve observed many crested wheat plantings like those in your first photo, and wondered why our native grasses are so slow to naturally invade and fill in the stand. Is crested wheat allelopathic?

Comments are closed.

Translate »