Adaptation, forage production, and forage quality are the determining factors when choosing a grass species or variety. Adaptation should be first and foremost in any decision for forage grass. Simply stated, if the plant is unproductive or doesn't survive it will not be a successful forage. Within the grass species there are tremendous geographical and climatic differences. Besides choosing between native and introduced, cool-season and warm-season, short and tall, there are also the bunchgrasses and sodforming grasses. One must carefully select what performs best in their particular soil, precipitation and temperature range, and management program.
Forage grasses also have many applications besides just feed for livestock production. Forage grasses are used for soil stabilization, wildlife, landscape, etc. Grasses inherently have extensive fibrous root systems and leafy top growth which creates an excellent option for soil conservation. Tremendous variations in growth habits, stress tolerance, aggressiveness, and adaptation assure the availability of one or many species for just about any conservation application.
Introduced, or non-native species are grasses whose origin is someplace other than the United States. Typically these species are considered invasive, but when proper planning and management is utilized these grasses tend to be very productive especially when limited acreage is available. Bermudagrass, which originated on the African continent, is one of the most widely planted warm-season grass species in the south. New seeded varieties like 'Wrangler', with greatly improved cold tolerance, have shifted the traditional bermudagrass survival line about 200 miles further north. 'Wrangler' has proven to be an excellent alternative to the problematic tall fescue throughout the transition zone. Blends of 'Wrangler' with 'Arizona common' ('Stampede') and with 'Riviera' ('Riata') are also very productive in the transition zone. Other common introduced warm-season grasses include weeping lovegrass, old world bluestem, and Teff Grass. The cool-season introduced grasses are also quite productive when properly managed. 'Jose' tall wheatgrasses, 'Luna' wheatgrass and bromegrasses are a few that are commonly used. Select among the many species and varieties to find a grass that best suits your needs.
Many of the important grasses are native, or have origins, to the United States. The Grasslands of the United States have been divided into the tall-grass region of the east and the short-grass region in the west. The tall-grasses include Big bluestem, Switchgrass, Sand bluestem, Eastern Gamagrass, and Indiangrass. Buffalograss, Blue grama, and Sideoats grama are examples of some of the short-grasses. Native grasses have historically been thought of as only forage for livestock, but now are more commonly used planted for soil stabilization, wildlife food and cover, and landscape use. For more information and our selection of grasses, click the link on the right side of this page.