Smooth Bromegrass

Percy Folkard
Scientific name: 

Bromus inermis Leyss.

Agronomic Grass
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Seed size: 
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PR Suitability note: 
Well-adapted to the Peace region.
Key considerations: 
Suitable in mixtures for hay, silage and pasture. Suitable for pasture, but regrowth after grazing is poor. Some varieties (Manchar) may have better regrowth characteristics than Carlton. Smooth bromegrass is long-lived, persistent and considered invasive. Seeding objectives should be carefully considered before using in site rehabilitation contexts, or if transition to a native plant community is desired.
General Description: 

Smooth bromegrass is a high-yielding, cold hardy, long-lasting, creeping perennial grass. Roots are deep, fibrous, and very fine. Once established it grows creeping rhizomes and can become root bound.

Stems can reach as high as 1.2 m (48 in.) in height. Leaf blades are rolled, hairless, large and wide, up to 1.5 cm (1/2 in.). There is often a “W” constriction in the upper leaf.

Smooth bromegrass forms long seed heads 20 cm (8 in.) long with 7 to 10 spikelets and flowers. It is cross-pollinated and develops seed easily. Seeds are purplish-brown, long, and narrow with a short awn.

Smooth bromegrass is native to Germany, Hungary, France, and northern Asia. The first seed grown in northern Canada was from northern Germany; while southern types were from Hungary and France.
Is adapted to a wide range of environments and is widely distributed throughout most regions of British Columbia.
Most commonly grown as grass for hay. Some use in pastures but regrowth after grazing is poor. Used for roadside site rehabilitation and erosion control, and for forage in forest land grazing contexts but increasingly being avoided in many areas because of its invasive nature.
Optimal time of grazing use: 
Good early season grazing.
Recovery after use (rating): 
Recovery after use: 
Smooth bromegrass requires long rest periods and is slow to recover after cutting or grazing.
Forage yield (rating): 
Forage yield: 
One of the highest yielding grasses. Yields of 10,550 kg/ha (9,400 lb/acre) have been reported at Lacombe, AB. Three-year average dry matter yield at Prince George, B.C., was 4,592 kg/ha (4,100 lb/acre).
Palatability/Nutritional Value: 
Very palatable to livestock with protein levels of 11 to 14% and digestibility of 64%.
Longevity (rating): 
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Invasiveness (rating): 
Smooth bromegrass is included on the E-Flora BC 2011 Invasive, Noxious and Problem Plants of British Columbia. It can become invasive on upland range and wetland areas.
Competitiveness (rating): 
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Erosion control (rating): 
Erosion control: 
Because of its sod-forming nature, smooth bromegrass is excellent for erosion control.
Drought tolerance (rating): 
Drought tolerance: 
Smooth bromegrass is less tolerant to drought than crested wheatgrass, but more tolerant to drought than orchardgrass or timothy.
Winter hardiness (rating): 
Soil texture preference (rating): 
Soil texture preference: 
Well adapted for all soils (including ditches and wastelands), and grows really well on loam soils.
Flooding tolerance (rating): 
Flooding tolerance: 
Tolerates spring flooding and can tolerate excess moisture in the root zone.
Salinity tolerance (rating): 
Salinity tolerance: 
Smooth bromegrass is suited to revegetate areas that have high salinity levels. When seeded in saline areas, smooth bromegrass will grow on patches and margins with lower salt levels. As its growth helps lower the salinity levels, it then can spread and fill in gaps.
Acidity tolerance (rating): 
Acidity tolerance : 
Tolerates pH levels as low as 5.5 and most productive on soils with pH 6.0 to 7.5.
Pests and/or disease threats: 
Usually minor threats expected on robust smooth bromegrass. Disease issues can include ergot and leaf spot. Insect threats for seed growers especially include seed midge.
Ease of establishment (rating): 
Ease of establishment: 
Seed-to-soil contact is important when establishing smooth bromegrass. Germination can be better in dark conditions at cooler temperatures, but it is widely adapted to a broad range of seedbed conditions. Smooth bromegrass seed germinates easily into strong seedlings but stand can be slow to establish and thicken in the first year.
Application requirements: 
Awns on seeds may cause bridging problems when seeding; but agitation or seed coatings may alleviate this problem.
Suggested mixtures: 
Often seeded with alfalfa, but stand must be managed to maintain percentage of alfalfa in the stand.
Management considerations: 
Need to fertilize to favour and maintain legumes in mixed stands. With very light use in early summer, can be stockpiled for fall or early winter grazing. Not a good candidate for stockpiling for use in early spring as it does not maintain its feed quality over the winter.