Agronomic Grass

Russian Wildrye

Russian wildrye is a large, cool season, introduced, long-lived, perennial bunchgrass. It is well suited for pasture and stockpiled grazing. The roots are fibrous and may establish to a depth of 1.9 to 2.6 m (6 to 8 ft.). However, about 75% of the roots are in the surface 15 to 60 cm (6 to 24 in.). Russian wildrye roots have an extended horizontal spread and may draw heavily on soil moisture for a distance of up to 1.3 to 1.6 m (4 to 5 ft.).

Tall Fescue

Tall fescue is a deep-rooted, medium- to long-lived, perennial bunchgrass. Although it is considered a cool season grass, tall fescue can tolerate more heat than other cool season grasses, and is considered a transition between the two types. Longevity in northern regions is extremely variable and dependent on variety. It is similar to meadow fescue but is distinguished by having wider, less glossy leaves.

Crested Wheatgrass

Crested wheatgrass is a hardy, perennial, agronomic bunchgrass with fibrous roots. The Agropyron species (A. cristatum, A. desertorum) occurring in British Columbia hybridize readily when growing together, forming morphologically intermediate plants. Some cultivars are also intermediate, being derived from hybrids.

Creeping Red Fescue

Creeping red fescue is a long-lived, hardy, creeping rooted, cool season perennial grass, important for its use in stabilizing soil, as stockpiled forage, as blending for the turf industry, and as a seed crop in the Peace Region.

Root systems are fibrous with short rhizomes. Roots form a thick sod that is resilient to traffic, but they are less dense than smooth bromegrass or Kentucky bluegrass.

Stems are up to 90 cm (35 in.) tall and are often reclining at the base. Mostly basal leaves are produced and are 5 to15 cm (2 to 6 in.) long.

Hybrid Bromegrass

Hybrid bromegrass is a newly developed, slightly creeping, winter hardy, long-lived perennial forage grass. It was developed from a cross between smooth bromegrass (Bromus inermis Leyss.) and meadow bromegrass (Bromus riparius Rehm.). It is a dual purpose forage for both hay and pasture systems, producing a high quality, high volume first cut hay crop (like smooth bromegrass) followed by good regrowth for grazing and stockpiling (like meadow bromegrass). Several varieties developed by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are currently being tested in the Peace Region.

Italian Ryegrass

Italian ryegrass is a short-lived, highly tillered, cool season biennial bunchgrass. It is usually grown as an annual forage or a quickly establishing, green ground cover. There are two types of ryegrasses: Italian and Westerwold, both with diploid and tetraploid varieties. Ryegrasses cross-pollinate freely and it is difficult to maintain genetic purity. Often they form a mixture of perennial and annual species.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is a widely adapted, long-lived, persistent, low-growing perennial grass. Its roots are shallow, fibrous and concentrated near the soil surface. It eventually forms a very firm sod from the spread of slender rhizomes. Characteristics of the rhizomes vary with variety.

Kentucky bluegrass produces fine stems up to 75 cm (30 in.). The leaves are basal, soft, and smooth. At the bud stage, leaf blades are folded, flat, or V-shaped, with a boat-shaped tip. Leaf blades when flattened out are 2 to 5 mm wide.

Canada Bluegrass

Canada bluegrass is a widely adapted, cool season, non-native, perennial grass. It has many characteristics similar to Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), except for its distinctive blue-green leaf colour and flat leaf shape. It has a role as an early colonizer or pioneer species, especially on disturbed sites with low fertility and moderate acidity.

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is a short-lived, perennial, cool season bunchgrass. It is closely related to Italian ryegrass, but is smaller, has folded rather than rolled leaves, and lacks awns. Perennial ryegrass produces a shallow, fibrous root system, with the majority of roots in the upper 15 cm (6 in.) of soil. It tillers freely and produces a dense sod.


Orchardgrass is a very productive, highly palatable, perennial bunchgrass. Root systems are extensive and fibrous with a distinctive bunch growth. Crowns increase in size over time through tiller production.

Stems are 100 cm (39 in.) tall or more, and are distinctive in their flattening near the soil surface. Lots of basal leaves are produced, with smooth, folded leaves. Young leaves have boat-like tips, while older leaves have pointed tapered tips. Leaves are light green to blue green and up to 1 cm (3/8 in.) in width.


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