• Clipping and Japanese brome reduce western wheatgrass standing crop

      Haferkamp, M. R.; Heitschmidt, R. K.; Karl, M. G. (Society for Range Management, 1998-11-01)
      Japanese brome (Bromus japonicus Thunb.) and downy brome (Bromus tectorum L.), introduced annuals, have invaded many northern mixed-prairie plant communities. This study determined the effect of removing Japanese brome and clipping western wheatgrass [Pascopyrum smithii Rydb. (Love)] on aboveground forage production of a western wheatgrass dominated northern mixed-prairie community. During early spring 1993, a wet year, and 1995, a drier year, western wheatgrass tillers were clipped to ground level in May or June and Japanese brome seedlings were left undisturbed or removed in circular, 1-m2 plots on a clay-pan field site. Western wheatgrass standing crop and tiller densities were estimated by clipping and counting in May and June, and these plus community standing crops were estimated in all plots after Japanese brome matured in mid July. Year effects were significant for standing crop and tiller density due to annual variation in amount and distribution of fall, spring, and early summer precipitation. Conditions were most favorable for tiller initiation of western wheatgrass and germination of annual brome seed in fall 1994 and for herbage production in 1993. Clipping western wheatgrass tillers reduced accumulated standing crop 230 to 350 kg ha-1 and reduced tiller weight by 17 to 58%. Standing crop of western wheatgrass was increased 102 kg ha-1 with removal of Japanese brome, while total standing crop was reduced 284 kg ha-1 with brome removal. Increased standing crop of western wheatgrass appeared to result from increased tiller density rather than increased tiller weight. Removal of Japanese brome from northern mixed prairie plant communities may increase production of associated perennial grasses, but managers should also expect a short-term decrease in total standing crop.
    • Cold-hardiness of silver sagebrush seedlings

      Hou, J.; Romo, J. T. (Society for Range Management, 1998-11-01)
      Silver sagebrush (Artemisia cana Pursh), a common shrub on Northern Mixed Prairie in Canada, is an excellent species to consider for ecological restoration. On the Canadian Prairies, freezing temperature can occur during April and early May, months when most silver sagebrush seedlings emerge. Decreasing temperatures in autumn or exposure to freezing temperature through winter may also be lethal to seedlings of this long-lived shrub. The purpose of this study was to characterize freezing tolerance in silver sagebrush seedlings because low temperatures may reduce establishment. Seedlings were grown from 1 week to 1 full growing season, exposed to freezing temperatures under controlled conditions, and lethal temperatures for 50 and 95% mortality (LT50 and LT95) were determined. Averaged across 1- to 6-week-old seedlings, LT50 and LT95 were -7.7 and -11.1 degree C, respectively. Changes in mortality with temperature variations were more gradual in younger than older seedlings, and mean LT95 was 2.8 degree C lower in 1- and 2-week than 4- and 6-week-old seedlings. Within age groups, death after freezing was greater in non-acclimated than acclimated seedlings. Virtually no non-acclimated seedlings survived -14 degree C, while mortality of acclimated seedlings was nearly nil in most cases. Only 6.9% (SE = 5.5) of seedlings grown under field conditions died in November after exposure to -39 degree C. Freezing tolerance of field-grown seedlings remained high over winter; seedling mortality after exposure to -39 and -45 degree C averaged 5.6% (SE = 4.1) in March. No seedlings survived temperatures lower than -15 degree C in April, and predicted LT50 and LT95 averaged -15.6 and -19.3 degree C, respectively. Increased mortality after freezing in April indicates seedlings de-acclimated as temperatures rose and day length increased in spring. Since the potential of developing freezing tolerance is greater in older than younger seedlings, silver sagebrush seedlings that germinate early in growing season may survive the winter better than those germinating later. Under normal circumstances, temperatures on the Canadian Prairies should not threaten survival of silver sagebrush seedlings during their first winter.
    • Observation: Life history of spotted knapweed

      Jacobs, J. S.; Sheley, R. L. (Society for Range Management, 1998-11-01)
      Spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa Lam.) is a non-indigenous weed infesting large areas of rangeland in western North America. Life history models have been used to identify key processes regulating weed population dynamics and may be valuable in developing and testing integrated weed management strategies. Our objective was to characterize the life history of spotted knapweed. Demographic attributes were monitored monthly during snow free periods beginning August 1994 through October 1996 on 2 sites. Data were arranged into life history tables, and sensitivity analysis was performed to determine key transition phases affecting seed output. Spotted knapweed seed production ranged from 998 to 7815 viable seeds/m2 at both sites during the study. Seeds reaching the soil averaged 41 and 50% of seed output at sites 1 and 2, respectively. Less than 6% of seeds reaching the soil germinated in the fall at both sites. Recruitment peaked in April at 36% and in June at 20% of seeds reaching the soil on sites 1 and 2, respectively. Spotted knapweed juvenile density peaked August 1995 and June 1996 at both sites. Peaks corresponded with the beginning of the summer dry period. Plants bolted beginning June 1995 and May 1996. Sensitivity analysis identified early-summer juvenile survivorship, late-summer adult survivorship, transition from juvenile to adult, and seeds produced per adult as critical stages for spotted knapweed seed output. Management strategies that reduce spotted knapweed populations at these stages are likely to have the greatest impact on spotted knapweed population growth and spread. A weed population dynamics model using the life history demographic data was developed and can be used to design and test integrated spotted knapweed strategies.