A new publication “Grasses for the Northern Plains, Growth Patterns, Forage Characteristics, and Wildlife Values, Volume I – Cool-season” is the result of a joint effort between the USDA NRCS and the NDSU Extension Service. Many cooperating agencies and individual partners participated in the extensive process of data collection over a seven-year period. The data summarized for this publication was collected from plots established by the NRCS Bismarck Plant Materials Center.

Resource managers and livestock operators will find this publication valuable for designing grazing systems and implementing conservation plans. Graphs for crude protein and total digestible nutrients allow for quick comparisons with the minimum requirements of a grazing animal. A listing of current varieties for each species, including new releases, will aid the planning process. Salinity tolerances and value for haying, grazing, and wildlife are included for each species. Selecting varieties with improved forage yields, higher protein content, and better digestibility will add to profitability in livestock operations.

The data was collected at study sites located near Pierre, South Dakota and Hettinger, North Dakota. Results of this study will also provide new information to the scientific community as related to growth patterns and associated forage quality characteristics of 20 varieties of 12 species of cool-season grass.

The publication is available through the NRCS Plant Materials Center in Bismarck . Contact them at (701) 250-4330 or download a PDF from: http://plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/NDPMC/Grasses.html.

A second publication titled “Grasses for the Northern Plains: Growth Patterns, Forage Characteristics and Wildlife Values. Volume II warm-season” is currently being developed and the plan is to have this published and distributed by late spring. This publication will concentrate on selected warm-season grasses. The format will be similar to the cool-season publication but offers information relating to the warm-season grasses.