Tall Wheatgrass

Credit: 
JRJ
Scientific name: 

Thinopyrum ponticum (Podp.) Z.W. Liu & R.R.-C. Wang OR Elytrigia elongata (Host) Nevski

Type: 
Agronomic Grass
Annual precip. min (mm): 
300
Annual precip. max (mm): 
550
Seed size: 
Large
Seeds per kg: 
174,000
Typical seeding objectives: 
PR Suitability note: 
Originated from saline meadows of southern Russia, is less winter hardy than Kentucky bluegrass, creeping red fescue and other wheatgrasses and is generally not suited to the conditions in the Peace Region.
Key considerations: 
Tall wheatgrass is used primarily for rehabilitation of saline areas and is sometimes used for hay and forage. It has some value for nesting cover and food supply for birds. Suited to early season grazing as it becomes very coarse as it matures. Tolerance for alkaline soils with pH up to 9.0.
General Description: 

Tall wheatgrass is a long-lived, tall, perennial bunchgrass introduced to North America from Russia. It is often used for rehabilitation of saline areas. It has an extensive fibrous root system that can grow 300 cm (118 in.) into the soil. Plants form a “bunch” that increases in size with age.

Stems are coarse and grow 100 to 300 cm tall (39 to 118 in.). Leaves are 2 to 6.5 mm with short hairs that make them scratchy to the touch.

The seed heads can be over 30 cm (12 in.) in length and form a stiff narrow spike, with long gaps between spikelets. Each spikelet has 5 to 11 cross-pollinated flowers. Seeds are large and do not shatter easily.

Origin: 
Saline meadows of southern Russia.
Distribution: 
Dry roadsides and saline areas.
Habitat and climate: 
Dry roadsides, slopes, and open forests in grasslands and lower montane zones.
Uses: 
Tall wheatgrass is used primarily for rehabilitation of saline areas, and is sometimes used for hay and forage. It has some value as nesting cover and food supply for birds.
Optimal time of grazing use: 
Tall wheatgrass is best suited to early season rotational grazing.
Recovery after use (rating): 
M
Recovery after use: 
Tall wheatgrass should have up to 4 weeks of rest following grazing. It is best grazed rotationally with control over frequency and grazing height.
Forage yield (rating): 
M
Forage yield: 
It yields well for hay but becomes very coarse as it matures. It also yields well in pastures but regrowth is slow.
Palatability/Nutritional Value: 
Tall wheatgrass is less palatable and has lower nutritional value than other species because of its coarse stems and tough leaves.
Longevity (rating): 
H
Longevity: 
Tall wheatgrass is long lived under ideal growing conditions, but dry conditions shorten its life.
Persistence (rating): 
M
Persistence: 
Tall wheatgrass has moderate persistence on sites where it is well adapted.
Invasiveness (rating): 
L
Invasiveness: 
Tall wheatgrass is not considered invasive.
Competitiveness (rating): 
L
Competitiveness: 
Tall wheatgrass would not be considered very competitive except on sites where it is very well adapted.
Weed resistance (rating): 
L
Weed resistance: 
Tall wheatgrass has little impact on invasive plants.
Erosion control (rating): 
M
Erosion control: 
Tall wheatgrass is used for roadside stabilization, but may be less effective than other species for erosion control on steep slopes.
Drought tolerance (rating): 
H
Drought tolerance: 
It has high drought tolerance but it is less drought tolerant than slender wheatgrass.
Winter hardiness (rating): 
M
Winter hardiness: 
Tall wheatgrass is extremely winter hardy. However, it is not as winter hardy as Kentucky bluegrass, creeping red fescue, and some of the other wheatgrasses such as western, slender, or crested wheatgrass.
Soil texture preference (rating): 
FM
Soil texture preference: 
Tall wheatgrass prefers fine- to medium-textured moist soils, and can tolerate high water tables.
Flooding tolerance (rating): 
M
Flooding tolerance: 
Tall wheatgrass can withstand 5 weeks of flooding in spring. It has good tolerance for excess soil moisture.
Salinity tolerance (rating): 
H
Salinity tolerance: 
Tall wheatgrass has the highest salt tolerance of all introduced agronomic grass species.
Acidity tolerance (rating): 
L
Acidity tolerance : 
Tall wheatgrass can tolerate soil pH as low as 6.6.
Ease of establishment (rating): 
L
Ease of establishment: 
Tall wheatgrass is slow to germinate and seedlings do not compete well with weeds. Two years are recommended for establishment before use.
Application requirements: 
Seeding rates of 10 pounds pure live seed (PLS) per acre on non-saline soils and 15 pounds per acre on saline soils is recommended.
Suggested mixtures: 
Should be seeded with other saline-tolerant species such as slender wheatgrass in rehabilitation projects.
Management considerations: 
Effective weed control may be necessary for establishment. Irrigation and fertilization can enhance production.