Browsing Journal of Range Management, Volume 51, Number 4 (July 1998) by Subjects
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Morphological development of 2 warm-season grasses in the Nebraska SandhillsMorphological development of grasses has numerous implications to rangeland management including the timing and amount of herbivory. The objective of this study was to quantify the developmental morphology of prairie sandreed [Calamovilfa longifolia (Hook.) Scribn.] and sand bluestem [Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus (Nash) Fern.] tiller populations. Tiller populations of these 2 grasses were studied for 2 years in the Nebraska Sandhills. Plant development was evaluated using a growth staging system which quantifies the development of tiller populations. A morphological growth index for each species was calculated from either the weighted average of tiller numbers reported as mean stage count (MSC) or tiller weight reported as mean stage weight (MSW) and correlated with the independent variables of growing degree days (GDD) and day of year (DOY). Correlation coefficients with the independent variables were greater than 0.97 for MSC and MSW within years and greater than 0.90 between years. Greater rainfall and warmer temperatures in 1991 increased the number of tillers in the more advanced morphological stages in prairie sandreed, but tiller weight rather than tiller number increased in more advanced stages of sand bluestem. A majority of the harvested tillers were vegetative throughout the sampling period but by the end of the growing season, a wide range of morphological stages were present. The use of grazing to prevent the formation of culmed tillers in these grasses may be unnecessary because of the high proportion of vegetative tillers and the wide range of morphological stages available for selection by livestock.
Prediction of leaf:stem ratio in grasses using near infrared reflectance spectroscopyLeaf:stem ratio of grass stands is an important factor affecting diet selection, quality, and forage intake. Estimates of leaf:stem ratios commonly are based on a labor intensive process of hand separating leaf and stem fractions. Near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) has been used successfully to predict forage quality and botanical composition of vegetation samples. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of NIRS to predict leaf:stem ratios in big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), and smooth bromegrass (Bromus inermis Leyss.). A total of 72 hand-clipped samples of each species was taken from seeded monocultures in eastern Nebraska throughout the 1992, 1993, and 1994 growing seasons. Leaf:stem ratio was determined first for each sample and then the entire sample was ground. Samples were scanned by a Perstorp model 6500 near infrared scanning monochromator. Three calibration equations were developed based on using 18, 36, and 54 (1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 of total samples, respectively) samples. These 3 calibration equations were used to determine the number of samples necessary to achieve an r2 of 0.70 or higher for each data set. Big bluestem and switchgrass had coefficients of determination (r2) of less than or greater than 0.69 for all calibration equations except for the equation using only 18 samples of big bluestem r2 = 0.60). Smooth bromegrass had a r2 ranging from only 0.06 to 0.14 for the calibration equations regardless of the number of samples used. Near infrared reflectance spectroscopy was a rapid means of estimating leaf:stem ratios in monocultures of big bluestem and switchgrass but it was not suitable for smooth bromegrass.