(from Europe and Asia)
long-lived bunchgrass, rarely with short rhizomes, commonly growing
in clumps 1 ½ to 3 ½ feet tall; shoots conspicuously
compressed. It starts growth moderately early in the spring and
remains green during the growing season as long as it has adequate
Seedhead:Panicle, 2 to 8 inches long, with
spikelets grouped together in dense, one-sided clusters at the end
of panicle branches; spikelets contain 2 to 5 florets; lemmas pointed
long, up to ½ inch wide, folded when immature but later flat
(or V-shaped at base), with prominent white midrib on the under
side; both blades and sheaths are glabrous but rough when mature;
leaves folded in the bud; ligules 1/8 to ¼ inch long, membranous,
collar-shaped, with split margins; auricles absent.
one of the more useful introduced pasture grasses, especially on
irrigated pastures and non-irrigated rangelands at intermediate
elevations where precipitation is 18 inches annually or more. It
is shade tolerant.
Orchardgrass may be injured in areas with dry, cold winters and
no snow cover, or if subjected to warm temperature in January or
February followed by a period of extremely cold temperatures. It
also does not tolerate extended periods of drought. Orchardgrass
can usually survive moderate fires, but hot burns will damage the
root crowns, killing the plant.
requires well-drained, medium textured deep to moderately deep soils
that are between moderately acid and moderately alkaline. It will
grow on shallow, gravelly or stony soils where precipitation is
18 inches or more annually, or the equivalent under irrigation.
It will not tolerate soils saturated throughout the growing season.
smooth brome, willow, dandelion,
Kentucky bluegrass, aspen.
cures well as hay, and is sometimes mixed with alfalfa or other
legumes to provide high quality hay. It also provides excellent
pasture and has the ability to remain green and continue growing
while being grazed. It recovers very quickly after being grazed
or clipped for hay. It is good to excellent forage for livestock
and wildlife, and is especially relished by deer. It provides early
spring forage. The quality of standing forage rapidly declines with
Orchardgrass responds well to nitrogen fertilizer and irrigation.