Dahurian Wildrye

Credit: 
Percy Folkard, BC FLNR
Scientific name: 

Elymus dahuricus Turz. ex Grieseb.

Type: 
Agronomic Grass
Annual precip. min (mm): 
300
Annual precip. max (mm): 
600
Seed size: 
Large
Seeds per kg: 
192,000
Typical seeding objectives: 
PR Suitability note: 
Dahurian wildrye Is suited to the Peace Region. It has moderate-to high winter hardiness, but can winter kill in very severe winters. Trials with this species would help establish its suitability for different use contexts in the Peace region.
Key considerations: 
It is used primarily for short-term pasture or hay forage, but because of its adaptability, ease of establishment, and shorter life span, it may have some application in restoration. It can establish and stabilize soil very quickly.
General Description: 

Dahurian wildrye is a short-lived, shallow-rooted perennial bunchgrass native to Siberia, Mongolia, and China. “James” and “Arthur” are two varieties developed and registered for use in Canada.

It is a shallow-rooted bunchgrass with fibrous roots. The stems of Dahurian wildrye are erect and can grow to 100 to 150 cm (39 to 60 in.) high. The leaves are 11 to 15 mm wide with prominent veining, and lax with long (130 to 235 mm or 5 to 9 in.) leaf sheaths and internodes. The seed spikes (130 to 150 mm or 5 to 6 in.) are borne on culms 100 to 150 cm (39 to 60 in.) long. There are 2 to 4 spikelets per node but 3 are most common. Each spikelet may contain 3 to 5 florets. The seed is generally longer and wider than that of Russian wildrye, Psathyrostachys juncea (Fisch. Nevski), and frequently has awns 10 to 20 mm (.4 to .8 in.) in length.

Origin: 
Siberia, Mongolia, China. Canadian varieties to date have originated from China.
Distribution: 
Not native to British Columbia.
Habitat and climate: 
Dahurian wildrye has been grown on a wide range of soil types in both northern and southern regions of Saskatchewan. It was one of the successful species in the Vaseux Fire Restoration Demonstration project initiated in the southern Okanagan, and was recommended for application in the final report (see Atwood 2009).
Uses: 
It is used primarily for short-term pasture or hay forage, but because of its adaptability, ease of establishment, and shorter life span, it may have some application in restoration. It can establish and stabilize soil very quickly.
Optimal time of grazing use: 
Dahurian wildrye begins growth early and should be grazed before it gets coarse. It can be used in the year of establishment, especially under moister site conditions.
Recovery after use (rating): 
H
Recovery after use: 
Dahurian wildrye is quick to regrow and can be grazed 2 to 3 times within the season.
Forage yield (rating): 
M
Forage yield: 
Forage yield is comparable to crested wheatgrass on sites in the southern prairie zone. On darker soils, yield may be as high as 5,534 kg/ha (4,941 lb/acre). It has good yield as long as it persists.
Palatability/Nutritional Value: 
Dahurian wildrye is quite palatable and has good forage quality when it is growing. Unlike Russian wildrye, it does not cure well standing, although when cut at the immature stage hay quality may be as good as for crested wheatgrass.
Longevity (rating): 
L
Longevity: 
Dahurian wildrye is relatively short lived especially on drier sites (1 to 3 years). On more moist sites longevity is increased (3 to 5 years).
Persistence (rating): 
L
Competitiveness (rating): 
M
Competitiveness: 
Dahurian wildrye is very competitive in the year of establishment but becomes less competitive as the stand ages.
Weed resistance (rating): 
L
Weed resistance: 
Weed resistance is low where weeds are persistent.
Erosion control (rating): 
L
Erosion control: 
Though Dahurian wildrye can provide cover because it establishes readily, its shallow roots make it unsuitable for erosion control.
Drought tolerance (rating): 
H
Drought tolerance: 
Has good drought tolerance.
Winter hardiness (rating): 
M
Winter hardiness: 
Dahurian wildrye has moderate to high winter hardiness in most situations, although it can winter kill in very severe winters.
Soil texture preference (rating): 
A
Soil texture preference: 
Dahurian wildrye can be grown on a wide range of soil textures.
Flooding tolerance (rating): 
M
Flooding tolerance: 
Dahurian wildrye will withstand up to 4 weeks of flooding in the spring.
Salinity tolerance (rating): 
H
Salinity tolerance: 
Young stands have a high salinity tolerance, but this appears to decrease as the stand ages.
Ease of establishment (rating): 
H
Ease of establishment: 
Dahurian wildrye is easily established, has excellent seedling vigour, and is very competitive with other crops such as legumes.
Application requirements: 
Dahurian wildrye is suitable for broadcast applications.
Suggested mixtures: 
Suitable for mixtures, but should be limited to 25% of the mix to reduce competition with species that are slower to establish.
Management considerations: 
Dahurian wildrye is sometimes seeded in wide or perpendicular rows with other longer-lived perennials to provide additional forage in the first year of establishment.