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Reed Canarygrass (Phalaris arundenacea)

Plant Characteristics: Cool-season, rhizomatous, and deep-rooted perennial characterized by wide smooth leaves at the base and with a sharp point and rough edges at the tip. Blade margins are rough and a leaf constriction is often present. Leaves are rolled in the whorl. The leaf sheath is round, smooth, and split with overlapping margins. Auricles are absent. Flowers are borne in semi dense, spike like panicles. It usually maintain a good stand by naturally reseeding or or by creeping rhizomes.

Establishment: It is very well adapted to wet soils with poor drainage. It is also tolerant to drought conditions. When adapted to the upper northern part of the state it has very poor seed vigor and slow establishment. It should be planted from August to September at a rate of 5 to 8 lb/ac. Seed should be planted 3/4 inch deep in a well-prepared seedbed. It can be affected by Tawny botch, leafspot, and frit fly.

Fertilization: Reed canarygrass tolerates pH ranging from 5 to 8. Follow soil test recommendation for phosphorus and potassium applications. Highly responsive to nitrogen. Up to 200 lb N/ac could be applied in a year using split applications for a more even distribution of forage production. An early spring application of 40 lbs N/ac is recommended to provide early spring growth.

Grazing/Hay Management: Reed canarygrass could be used for hay, pasture, or silage. It is highly productive from April to September with limited production from July to August when it becomes dormant. High yields (7-8 tons/acre) of hay have been reported when reed canarygrass is fertilized and managed adequately. Rotational grazing with heavy grazing pressure for short periods and management is required for better utilization of forage quality. Removing stubble accumulation to a height of 3 inches will improve utilization and regrowth.

Forage Quality: High alkaloid content which reduces palatability and intake. Concentrations above 6% lead to forage rejection in livestock. Tryptamine and B-carboline alkaloids can severe effects on livestock, causing diarrhea and sever reductions in average daily gains.

Varieties/Cultivars: n/a

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