Canada Wildrye

DSC00958 (2)This is the third time this spring I have written about Canada Wildrye. Bear with me, as this cool season perennial grass is deserving of additional study.

April rainfall was not as abundant as the three previous months were, thus limiting the available moisture for warm season plants to provide needed grazing as the cool season plants faded into but a memory of the wonderful spring season we just witnessed. The annual Rescue grass, Little Barley and Texas Filaree have matured and while still providing valuable grazing for livestock, are brown and done for the year. Even the Texas Wintergrass is maturing putting on its sharp spears, transitioning to ‘That darned old spear grass’.

Yet as the picture shows the Canada Wildrye is showing excellent growth, providing needed grazing forage for the ‘critters’ to thrive upon. As noted in earlier writings– While always observable in limited amounts on the rangeland with continuous grazing, the lush growth during dryer times was not seen. The establishment of an effective graze-rest program is allowing this excellent grazing grass to proliferate and make a positive improvement to the rangeland. (If you zoom in on the picture, take note of the yellow flowered Engelmann Daisy. It too will prosper with a properly applied grazing system.)

Cool season perennial plants are every bit as important as warm season perennials. A good grazing program is essential to having these plants available for use. That is unless the ranchman prefers to provide for the livestock with an expensive winter-feeding program. Do not trap yourself into the thought process that rest from grazing is for warm season only, cool season rest is just as important. (At least in the ecosystem that our ranching operations are located.)

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Rangelands and Ranching: A Study of Proper Use of Rangelands & the Environment by Frank S Price

My son and I ranch a cow-calf, wooled sheep and hair sheep operation in West Central Texas. We operate 7 different grazing units and utilize a single herd, traditional pasture grazing program within all these units. My son represents is the 5th generation of this enterprise that was started in 1876 by my great grandfather. He and his brother began by driving a herd of cattle from Ennis Texas to Santa Anna Texas, ultimately driving the herd of cattle they had built to Kansas markets and returned to Sterling County, to begin a permanent ranching operation. Rainfall within our scattered operations runs from 17” to 20”. The winters, while going into the single digits on occasion are relatively mild compared to ranches further north, resulting in mostly mild winters producing usable cool season growth along with the dominant warm season plants.

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