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Native Grass Seeding. Santiago Misquez Rangeland Management Specialist NRCS-SW Area-Socorro,NM 575-835-1710 Recognition: Dave Dreesen,PMC. Grass Types Based on Photosynthetic Pathways. Cool-season grasses Stipeae tribe (needlegrasses and ricegrasses) Warm-season grasses.

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native grass seeding
Native Grass Seeding

Santiago Misquez

Rangeland Management Specialist

NRCS-SW Area-Socorro,NM

575-835-1710

Recognition: Dave Dreesen,PMC

grass types based on photosynthetic pathways
Grass Types Based onPhotosynthetic Pathways
  • Cool-season grasses
  • Stipeae tribe (needlegrasses and ricegrasses)
  • Warm-season grasses

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

cool season grasses
Cool-Season Grasses
  • C-3 photosynthetic pathway
  • Flowering requires vernalization and/or short days followed by long days
  • Growth optimum near 70° F (can grow as low as 35° F)
  • Lower water use efficiency (less DM production/unit water) than C-4 grasses
  • Long coleoptiles and short mesocotyls (festucoid development) allow adventitious root development near seeding depth
  • Seeded during summer monsoons or dormant fall planting (expectation of moist soil in early spring)
  • Dominate in regions where most precipitation falls in cooler months, at higher elevations or latitudes

Source: T. A. Jones, 1997

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

stipeae tribe includes needlegrasses and ricegrasses
Stipeae Tribe(includes needlegrasses and ricegrasses)
  • C-3 photosynthetic pathway
  • Lacks mechanism to store carbohydrates at cool temperatures
  • Many species do not require vernalization and are photoperiod insensitive
  • Optimal growth temperatures greater than cool-season species
  • Found in climates too warm for other cool-season grasses

Source: T. A. Jones, 1997

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

warm season grasses
Warm-Season Grasses
  • C-4 photosynthetic pathway
  • May require short days to flower but do not require vernalization
  • Growth optimum near 90° F with little growth below 60° F
  • Higher water use efficiencies than C-3 grasses
  • Mesocotyl elongation (i.e., subcoleoptile internode) forces adventitious roots to develop near soil surface (panicoid development)
  • Seeded during summer monsoons (late spring before monsoons), generally difficult to establish because of desiccating conditions in the arid SW
  • Often principal grasses where summer precipitation predominates, at lower elevations and latitudes

Source: T. A. Jones, 1997

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

slide6

Adventitious Root Development

Warm- versus Cool-Season Grasses

Warm-Season Grass

Panicoid Development

Cool-Season Grass

Festucoid Development

Coleoptile

Adventitious Roots

Mesocotyl

(Subcoleoptile Internode)

Seminal Roots

Seed

Primary Root System

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

seeding grasses
Seeding Grasses
  • Seed Depth – Emergence versus moisture
  • Dormancy – An advantageous trait for seed to persist for later precipitation events or future years
  • Soil Compaction – Survival is dependent on rapid root extension
  • Seed to Soil Contact – To facilitate imbibition (absorption of fluid by a solid results in swelling) of soil moisture by seed
  • Moisture Relations and Soil Texture – Infiltration depth versus water holding capacity
  • Mulch – Essential step in arid regions to take full advantage of the limited amount of moisture received

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

seeding depth for optimal emergence under ideal moisture conditions
Seeding Depth for Optimal Emergence under Ideal Moisture Conditions
  • Recommended seeding depths for most native grasses are from ¼ to ½ inch deep
  • Some extremely small seed such as many dropseeds (Sporobolus species) and some muhlys (Muhlenbergia species) should be surface broadcast; such small seed will be buried by raindrop impact or during mulch application and crimping
  • A few species prefer deep burial including Indian ricegrass

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

seeding grasses and weed control
Seeding Grasses and Weed Control
  • Reduce the weed seed bank in the surface soil by controlling weeds for several years prior to seeding (herbicides, mowing, burning…)
  • Application of broadleaf herbicides after seedlings are established
  • Mow weeds in grass sward before annual weeds set viable seed
  • Do not add nitrogen fertilizer at seeding because weed species will be favored

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

mulch application after seeding
Mulch Application after Seeding
  • Native grass hay (some residual seed OK) is the most desirable mulch for large seeding projectsApply in a layer of sufficient depth to shade soil and reduce wind desiccation, but thin enough to allow seedlings to emerge without restriction (porous hay layer with some soil visible)
  • Hydromulch wood fiber applied as slurry
  • Erosion control blankets
  • Wood or bark chips applied in a thin layer
  • Gravel mulch (1” deep aids emergence of galleta, 1.5” to 2” prevents emergence)

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

slide11
Mulch Effect on Seedling Establishment – Slender Wheatgrass Broadcast at 50 PLS/ft2 and Sprinkler Irrigated

Source: M. Majerus, Plant Materials Center, Bridger, MT

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

precipitation the master input
Precipitation - “The Master Input”
  • Seeding success is dependent on sufficient soil moisture following germination to allow seedling establishment
  • Species having both early and late germinating seed are favored in variable environments
  • Consistent rainfall for a prolonged period is necessary for warm-season grasses to establish
  • Survival of first dry period following a biologically significant rain requires seedlings to have
    • sufficient vigor to survive the subsequent dry period or
    • viable but un-germinated seed remaining after first wet period

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

establishment
Establishment
  • Blue grama requires 21 days after germination for adventitious roots to reach a 4-inch depth and the seedling to have 6 leaves and 2 tillers
  • Adventitious roots arise up to 9 days after germination and reach seminal root depth in approximately 21 days

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

slide14

Frequency Analysis of Size of Precipitation Individual Events or Storms (precipitation on successive days) in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert from 1915 - 2000

Source: Reynolds et al. 2004

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

soil moisture distribution in arid environments
Soil Moisture Distribution in Arid Environments
  • Upper 2” to 4” of soil dries out rapidly by evaporation following a precipitation event (little water available for plant uptake)
  • Soil moisture in the top 4” to 12” can persist for several weeks
  • Moisture under unsaturated conditions at depths below 12” is primarily lost by plant transpiration (no evaporation and no drainage)

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

inverse texture effect
“Inverse Texture Effect”
  • The depth of wetting is proportional to

the amount of infiltrating precipitation

soil moisture storage capacity

  • The storage capacity is 4 to 9% for sands, 11 to 15% for sandy loams, and 17 to 23% for fine-textured soils
  • The depth of soil wetting will be greater for coarse-textured soil than for fine-textured soils.
  • Coarse-textured soils hold less water per unit depth but much of the water is sufficiently deep to avoid evaporation, whereas in a fine-textured soil most of the water can be lost to evaporation
  • Therefore, sandy soils often have more useable soil moisture in arid environments

Source: Noy-Meir 1973

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

slide17
Influence of Soil Texture on Moisture Penetration – One Inch Infiltration Event and Dry Soil (Wilting Point)

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

influence of soil texture and surface sealing on average water infiltration rates inches hour
Influence of Soil Texture and Surface Sealing on Average Water Infiltration Rates (inches/hour)

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

Source: Pair 1983

variables related to drying rate and grass seedling establishment in a sandy loam soil
Variables Related to Drying Rate and Grass Seedling Establishment in a Sandy Loam Soil

Source : Roundy et al. 1997

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

slide20

Patterns of Soil Water Loss over TimeSandy Loam Surface Soil (0.4 to 1.2 inch depth)

Soil Water Content (% vol.)

Source : Roundy et al. 1997

Drying Time (hr)

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

slide21

Irrigation from Mid-July through August to Enhance Establishment on Abandoned Farmland in the Sonoran Desert (Supplementing Precipitation of 2.8 inches)

NA – high density not achieved

Source: Roundy et al 2001

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

seed source islands or resource islands
Seed Source Islandsor Resource Islands
  • Focus limited resources on small areas
  • Rely on natural seed dispersal to allow expansion into outlying areas
  • Apply intensive resources in a small area to enhance establishment
    • Weed control
    • Supplemental water (rainfall harvesting or minimal irrigation)
    • Exclosures to control grazers/browsers (rodents to elk)
    • Use transplants of grasses, forbs, and shrubs to assure establishment and provide immediate diversity

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

seeding rates and mixes
Seeding Rates and Mixes
  • 20 to 60 PLS per lineal foot – drilled
  • 20 to 60 PLS per square foot – broadcast (rates usually higher because fewer seeds are at optimum soil depth)
  • Common usage - 40 PLS per square foot
  • Total seeding rate for a mix should be 40 to 60 PLS – percentage of each species will depend on desired plant community, vigor of the seedling (competition between species), seed size, PLS seed cost

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

an example of a seed mix calculation for a sandy arid site
An Example of a Seed Mix Calculation for a Sandy Arid Site

No. of PLS/

Common Name Type Pound PLS Moisture Use Avail.

  • Indian ricegrass (IR) Stipeae 160k very xeric yes
  • Black grama (BG) WS 1,300k very xeric maybe
  • Sand dropseed (SD) WS 5,600k xeric yes
  • Spike dropseed WS 2,800k xeric ?
  • Mesa dropseed WS 3,300k very xeric ?
  • Giant dropseed WS 1,400k very xeric ?
  • Mix percentages based on seed and seedling characteristics
    • IR 25% (large, dormant seed; vigorous seedling; moderate cost per pound)
    • BG 15% (small seed; low vigor seedling; high cost per pound)
    • SD 60% (very small seed; low survival; inexpensive)
  • PLS rates per square foot – IR 10, BG 6, SD 24
  • PLS per acre – IR 435k, BG 260k, SD 1,050k
  • PLS per pound – IR 160k, BG 1,300k, SD 5,600K
  • Pounds PLS per acre – IR 2.7, BG 0.20, SD 0.19
  • Hypothetical PLS from seed testing – IR 0.70, BG 0.40, SD 0.85
  • Bulk pounds per acre – IR 3.9, BG 0.50, SD 0.22

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

slide25

Mean

Annual

Precipitation

<8

8-10

10-12

12-14

14-16

16-18

18-20

20-24

24-28

32-36

36-40

40-44

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

slide26

Annual

Lake

Evaporation

(inches)

>80

70-79

60-69

50-59

40-49

30-39

<30

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

soil texture triangle
Soil Texture Triangle

Texture Classes Coarse Intermediate (Loam) Fine

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

slide29
Soil Texture Influences Species Used in Seed Mixes forChihuahuan (ch) and Colorado Plateau (cp) Desert (<10” ppt.) Sites

** Likely available

* Possibly available

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

new mexico semi arid ecoregions 10 14 inches mean annual precipitation
NewMexicoSemi-AridEcoregions10 - 14 inchesMeanAnnualPrecipitation

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

slide31
Soil Texture Influences Species Used in Seed Mixes for Dry Plains, Sagebrush (sb), and Piñon/Juniper (10-14” ppt.) Sites

** Likely available

* Possibly available

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

new mexico prairie high plains ecoregions 14 inches mean annual precipitation
NewMexicoPrairie (High Plains)Ecoregions>14 inchesMeanAnnualPrecipitation

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

soil texture influences species used in seed mixes for prairie 14 ppt sites
Soil Texture Influences Species Used in Seed Mixes for Prairie (>14” ppt.) Sites

** Likely available

* Possibly available

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

soil texture influences on species used in seed mixes for montane sites
Soil Texture Influences on Species Used in Seed Mixes for Montane Sites

** Likely available

* Possibly available

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

soil texture influences species used in seed mixes for wet meadow sites
Soil Texture Influences Species Used in Seed Mixes for Wet Meadow Sites

** Likely available

* Possibly available

Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

resources
Resources
  • www.nm.nrcs.usda.gov
    • Standards/Specs: Critical Area Planting & Range Planting
      • http://efotg.nrcs.usda.gov/references/public/NM
      • Los Lunas Plant Materials Center 505-865-4684