Rescue Prairie Grass Info: What Is Prairie Grass Used For?

By: , Master Gardener
Planted Prairie Grass With Green Label Sign
Image by Daderot

For those looking for a good cover crop or livestock forage, Bromus prairie grass may be just what you need. Let’s learn more about what is prairie grass used for and how to plant prairie grass seed.

What is Prairie Grass?

Prairie bromegrass (Bromus willdenowii) is native to South America and has been in the United States for about 150 years. It’s also known as Bromus prairie grass, rescue grass, and matua. Found mainly along roadsides, hay meadows, or in pastures, this grass is a cool-season bunchgrass that matures at about 2 to 3 feet (0.5 to 1 m.) in height. Although this grass is a perennial, it acts as an annual in parts of the southeast United States.

Prairie Grass Identification

This grass appears much like orchardgrass but has densely covered basal leaf sheaths with light hairs and a shorter ligule. The leaves are rolled in the bud and a light green color. Prairie grass seed heads are produced all through the growing season.

What is Prairie Grass Used For?

The most common use of prairie grass is as a crop extender during cool times of the year, such as early spring and late fall. Because of its dense nutrient composition, it is a nutritious and very cost-effective livestock forage. Cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and various wildlife enjoy munching on this tasty grass, which is often included in pasture mixtures with fescue, Bermuda grass, and orchardgrass.

Growing and Managing Prairie Grass

Prairie grass seed isn’t competitive, so it’s best planted with other cool-season grasses. It does, however, combine well with alfalfa.

Soil should be fertile and medium-coarse for best results. This grass will tolerate drought but not flooding and requires adequate drainage. Prairie grass likes high nitrogen and a soil pH around 6 to 7.

Care must be taken not to plant the seed too deeply or there will be germination problems. The best planting times in the southeast are between the middle of August and the end of September.

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