Types of Grasses

  03/01/11 1:53:35 PM

Pasture Grasses

Smooth Brome Grass (Lincoln, Carlton)

Smooth Brome is a drought resistant, winter hardy, sod forming, long lived, cool season perennial. It is adapted to sandy loam soil on either dry land or irrigated fields. Smooth Brome produces excellent quality forage, but should not be planted in prolonged drought areas.

Fleet Meadow Brome
Fleet was released in 1987. It was selected for its seed production and has slightly wider leaves than Regar.

Regar Meadow Brome

Regar was selected for its regrowth potential after grazing or haying. It has good seedling vigor and establishes quickly. It greens up earlier in the spring and matures earlier than Manchar Brome.


Paddock Meadow Brome

Paddock was developed in Canada and has somewhat better production than Regar. It also has good early spring growth and good fall regrowth. It has good tolerance to heavy grazing and traffic and has good frost tolerance.


MacBeth Meadow Brome

MacBeth is a public variety released by Montana State University in 2002. It has better seed and forage production than previous varieties.


Big Blue Stem

Big Blue Stem is a warm season perennial bunch grass that grows to four feet tall. It is readily grazed with good forage value. It is palatable for fall or winter grazing. Heavy grazing will reduce the stand.


Little Blue Stem

Little Blue Stem is a warm season, leafy perennial bunch grass. It is somewhat more drought resistant than Big Blue Stem. It provides good forage value and palatability only in young green plants. It does not cure well so fall and winter forage is poor.

Blue Grama

Blue Grama is a native warm season perennial bunch grass. It forms an open sod through tillering. It has very good palatability and drought resistance. It provides good grazing throughout the year. It can also be used in lawn mixesin dry areas. It is sightly alkali tolerant and grows at elevations between 3,500 & 10,000 feet.


Hard Fescue

Hard Fescue is a hardy drought resistant bunch grass adapted to well-drained sandy loam to clay soils with 12 inches of moisture or more. It will not tolerate wet, saline, or alkaline soils. Mature stands will crowd out crested wheatgrasses. Due to low palatability and shade tolerance it is a good reclamation grass.


Idaho Fescue

Idaho Fescue is a native, cool season, perennial bunch grass. It is deep rooted, making it somewhat drought tolerant. It is adapted for well-drained sandy or gravely loam soils and will not tolerate high water tables. It is winter hardy and produces well under higher rainfall situations. It can reach 3 feet in height. It has no saline or alkali tolerance.


Tall Fescue

Tall Fescue is a cool season, long-lived perennial bunch grass. It is deep rooted with tough coarse roots making it ideal for erosion control. It can tolerate high water tables and standing water while dormant in the winter. It can also tolerate saline and alkaline soils. It can reach growing heights of 3-5 feet and should be planted where at least 15 inches of moisture are available.


Creeping Red Fescue

Creeping Red Fescue is a cool season, sod forming grass and is moderately salt tolerant. It grows in soil types that are relatively moist, cool areas and it is valued for its shade tolerance.


Garrison Creeping Foxtail

Garrison is a cool season, long lived perennial that will spread readily by vigorous underground rhizomes. It will tolerate standing water and heavy flooding of 3 feet of water for 30 days. It can reach a growing height of 6 feet. Ig has been known to perform well in areas from Alaska to New Mexico. It has early season growth and can set mature seed by late June. It is a very nutritious feed that will withstand heavy grazing and traffic. It makes excellent forage for wet soils when combined with Cicer Milkvetch.


Green Needle Grass

Green Needle Grass is a cool season, native perennial bunch grass. It grows from 2 to 3 feet tall. It is found naturally with western wheatgrasses and needle and thread. It is very nutritious, but depletes in a stand under heavy grazing. It grows best in medium to fine textured soils with 12-18 inches of moisture. Needle Grass is slow to establish, but has good plant vigor and high disease resistance. It germinates slowly and will continue to germinate two to three years after planting.


Needle and Thread Grass

Needle and Thread is a native, long lived, perennial bunch grass with deep roots. The seed has a long thread like awn with a sharp pointed seed. It varies in quality as forage, but is good in the early season when plants are green and tender. Harvest is difficult due to the long awn and generally requires debearding prior to cleaning.Sdgerghe4trgjwqoiethj2304utwoierhg0394ujtg

Orchard Grass

Orchard Grass is an introduced, medium to long lived, perennial bunch grass. It is very nutritious and yields good tonnage when mixed with other forages. It requires 18-25 inches of moisture to produce well and is not recommended for dryer situations. It will grow from 2-5 feet tall. It does not tolerate close cutting or continuous grazing.


Latar Orchard Grass

Latar has been selected for its excellent regrowth. This makes it better for haying than standard orchard grass. It produces well for hay when mixed with alfalfa.


Piaute Orchard Grass

Piaute was selected for its semi-drought resistant qualities. It will produce over a wide range of moisture conditions from 10-25 inches. Under dry conditions it reaches a height of 15-18 inches. With adequate moisture it will grow to 4 feet. It is very palatable and stays green about two weeks longer than standard crested grasses. It is long lived with stands as old as 30 years.

Orchard Grass

Potomac matures later than standard orchard grass and has good rust resistance. It also has good stand life. Potomac prefers well-drained soil, but does well in coarse or fine textured soil.rghe4trgjwqoiethj2304utwoierhg0394ujtg

Crested Wheatgrass

Ephraim Crested Wheatgrass

Ephraim Crested is a long-lived perennial sod forming grass. It is adapted to arid regions of the intermountain West. It was selected for its ability to spread through rhizomes. Under irrigation it will spread rhizomes in one year.


Fairway Crested Wheatgrass

Fairway is a drought resistant bunch grass that will stay green longer than other crested grasses. It also has shorter summer dormancy under dry conditions. It is adapted for golf courses, dryland lawns and airports due to its short growth.


Hycrest Crested Wheatgrass

Hycrest is the first interspecific Wheatgrass to be released. It tends to be larger and more robust than the two parental varieties. In field tests it established better and produced more forage than Nordan or Fairway. It also had better root development, seedling vigor and emergence from deep planting than these other cresteds. It is adapted to sage and juniper vegetation sites, greasewood and Indian rice grass sites where precipitation is less than 10 inches.

Kirk Crested Wheatgrass

Nordan Crested is similar in cold and drought tolerance as Standard Crested Wheatgrass. It is uniform, erect, with heavy seeds that are awnless. The seed heads are dense and compressed. It has good seedling vigor, seed quality and long term forage yields are equal to the newer varieties. It is very palatable in spring and fall, but less so in summer.




Beardless Wheatgrass

Beardless Wheatgrass is a drought tolerant grass, which requires careful grazing management. It is adapted to medium or light soils. It has no salt tolerance. It is a later season grass than crested with similar palatability. Beardless seedlings are slow to establish with poor vigor, but mature plants have good vigor and maintain long-lived plant stands.

Critana Thickspike Wheatgrass

Critana Thickspike is a drought resistant, rhizomatous, low growing native grass that is similar to Sodar Streambank. It is used for erosion control on sandy or shaley clay soils. Critana has excellent seedling vigor, sodding and seed production characteristics and once established, its low growing habit provides a pleasing appearance and requires little maintenance.


Indian Rice Grass

Indian Rice Grass is a cool season, tufted, perennial bunch grass that does well on sandy type soils. It provides good spring and summer grazing and excellent winter pasture. It is very drought resistant and somewhat alkali tolerant.


Intermediate Wheatgrass

Intermediate is a long-lived, cool season, sod forming perennial grass that matures later than standard crested Wheatgrass. It is less drought resistant than standard but is more frost resistant, which helps it provide better late season grazing. It has good palatability and makes excellent hay when cut in early bloom. It is well adapted to irrigated pastures when mixed with brome and orchard grass. It also works well for erosion control due to its rapid sod-forming trait. Fall seeding is usually more successful than spring seeding.


Newhy Wheatgrass

Newhy Wheatgrass is a cross between bluebunch Wheatgrass and quackgrass, but not as aggressive in spreading as quackgrass. It is significantly more saline-tolerant than crested and intermediate Wheatgrass. Newhy provides a tremendous amount of forage and retains forage quality late in the season. Livestock find it more palatable than other salt tolerant species.


Pubescent Wheatgrass

Pubescent is a mild sod-forming grass similar to intermediate. It is somewhat more alkaline and drought tolerant and grows under lower soil fertility than intermediate. Early spring growth is highly palatable and nutritious. However, palatability and nutrition decline rapidly with maturity. Pubescent is also used for erosion control and spreads by rhizomes.  Luna, Manska, Mandan


Siberian Wheatgrass

Siberian is long lived, early season bunch grass similar to standard crested, but is more drought tolerant and more productive in areas of less than 13 inches of moisture. It is somewhat saline and alkaline tolerant with better nutrition and palatability than standard crested. It stays green about 2 weeks longer than standard, has finer stems and more leaves, but is less vigorous.


Slender Wheatgrass

Slender is an early season native perennial bunch grass adapted for sweet clover mixes in pasture, hay and reclamation sites. The plants are vigorous but short lived. This grass is alkaline and saline tolerant with lea, stem and stripe rust resistance. Slender is easy to establish, but needs 14 or more inches of moisture. It is very winter hardy and adapted to sandy loam soils. The forage is adapted well for cattle and fair for sheep. It cures well and makes good nutritious winter grazing. Pryor, Revenue


Stream Bank Wheatgrass

Stream Bank Wheatgrass is a drought tolerant, sod forming grass that spreads through rhizomes. It is adapted to light soils in areas that receive 6-18 inches of moisture. It establishes readily with vigorous seedlings and has good longevity. It has poor palatability. Stream Bank is competitive to weeds and other plants, making it more suitable for reclamation and erosion control under dry conditions.


Tall Wheatgrass

Tall Wheatgrass is a leafy, medium tall bunch grass with forage production equal to other Wheatgrasses, but with better palatability. It is a cool season, long lived, winter hardy variety that is highly tolerant to saline and alkaline soils with high water tables. It has excellent late spring and early summer grazing with good fall regrowth. As a pasture grass, it must be heavily grazed to maintain palatability.


Western Wheatgrass

Western Wheatgrass is a native, cool season, rhizomatous sod former that establishes and spreads rapidly, making it valuable for erosion control. It is a very late nutritious, highly palatable grass that yields high protein hay when cut during late bloom. Western is drought and alkali tolerant. It is best grown below 5,000 feet and in areas of 10-25 inches of moisture. It is slow to establish, but has good recovery and yield under irrigation.


Russian Wildrye

Russian Wildrye is a cool season, deep-rooted, extremely winter hardy perennial bunch grass. It is adapted to upland saline and alkaline soils. It is a long lived drought resistant grass that is better suited for pasture than hay. This grass is high in protein, highly palatable, and cures well for winter grazing. It has a long growth season with good grazing recovery. Russian Wildrye works well in sweet clover blends. It can withstand heavy grazing, but takes about 3 years to get a good stand established.

       Bozoisky Russian Wildrye is an excellent source of forage during the spring and summer. Spring green-up is almost as
early as crested Wheatgrass and its dense, basal leaves retain greenness and nutritive value longer during the summer 
than many cool-season range grasses. Bozoisky is very tolerant of grazing and regrows quickly after clipping. It is best to 
graze lightly in the spring and save the regrowth for late summer and fall grazing. Once established, alfalfa is able to root 
deeper than Russian Wildrye, avoiding the intense competitiveness of this grass.



Timothy is a rapid developing, short-lived perennial bunch grass. It has shallow fiberous, making it susceptible to flooding during the growing season. It thrives in boggy low areas and poorly drained fields. It is very acid tolerant and will grow in clay, sandy or loamy soils. It has good seedling vigor. It makes excellent hay in pure stands or when mixed with other grasses or alfalfa. It is palatable and high in protein when harvested before the full bloom. When cut at full bloom it is high energy low protein making it excellent feed for working horses. It stands erect making harvest easier and is dust and mold free. The seed head is round a column with little or no awn. It is easily shattered when mature. The seed can maintain viability for up to 5 years when stored in cool dry conditions.  Climax, Tuukkaerghe4trgjwqoiethj2304utwoierhg0394ujtg




Alfalfa is known as the “Queen of Forages”.  It is high in protein, phosphorous and some of the trace minerals.  It is near perfect diet for cattle, horses, and sheep.  Large amounts can also be incorporated into feed rations for swine and poultry.  Alfalfa is adapted to all areas of the intermountain wheat where soil drainage is adequate.  Like other crops, alfalfa has its own natural enemies including insects and plant diseases.  There are two basic types of alfalfa available for planting.  You can choose a single variety or a blend of varieties.  If you have fields and soils that are deep and well drained, a singular cultivar will probably be the best.  But if fields are uneven, light  or heavy soil, gravelly or poorly drained, a blend might do better, due top the differing root habits of the blended alfalfas.

Roundup Ready 405T RR
The original Traffic Tested® Genuity® Round Up Ready® alfalfa is a high yielding very winterhardy variety with enhanced forage quality for better animal performance. Ameristand 405T RR has a high resistant to seven pests and high multifoliate leaf expression. Winterhardiness of 2.0, Fall Dormancy 4.0, excellent persistence & stress tolerance.

Falcata has superior drought resistance and longevity qualities compared to other common alfalfas. Falcata's endurance appears to be due to its fibrous roots which compete well for limited soil moisture. The fibrous, creeping root mass may also help defend against weed invasion. Suggested planting rate of 2 lbs./acre. Falcata should not be grazed until the second year after seedling establishment.

HybriForce 2400 -  Dairyland
Hybriforce 2400 is the second generation of hybrid alfalfas. It's characterized by the highest level of forage yield potential delivering dairy quality forage. It expresses fast re-growth of thick, distinctively fine stemmed forage. As the stands of HybriForce 2400 get older, the forage yield and persistence advantages become more pronounced. Better weed control at establishment & established stands.


Ladak is very winter hardy, late maturing and drought tolerant adapted to low moisture areas.  It produces a heavy first cutting, but has slow recovery for second cutting.  It has some wilt and leaf disease resistance.  Ladak 65 and Ladak + are cultivars selected for improved hardiness and disease resistance.

Magnum VI - Dairyland
Magnum VI is a high forage yielding, high forage quality, non-hybrid alfalfa variety. The agronomic package is built to combat all of the major alfafa pathogens.

Magnum VI-Wet - Dairyland
Magnum VI-Wet alfalfa delivers tremendous yield in a non-hybrid alfalfa. The branch rooted feature further strengthens its ability to thrive in wetter, more saturated soils and adjusts its growth when moisture stresses intensify. This ensures better plant survival and reduces winter injury concern. Magnum VI-Wet is a breakthrough product for Aphanomyces Race 2 soils.


Multileaf may exhibit seven leaflets as opposed to the three leaflets on “normal” alfalfa.  It demonstrates impressive yields, high levels of disease resistance nd higher nutritional content by weight because there is relatively more leafy matter for the same amount of stem. 

Multileaf 9111

Multileaf 9111 is a tap rooted, early maturing, fine stemmed, high quality alfalfa with a multileaf expression better than 95%. It has a fall dormancy rating of 3.0 with excellent winter hardiness characteristics. 9111 is resistant to aphanomyces, fusarium wilt and phytophthora root rot. Also shows high resistance to anthracnose and bacterial wilt & moderate resistance to verticillium wilt.

Ranger is an alfalfa variety cross between Cossack, Turkistan, and Ladak.  It was selected for disease resistance, rapid recovery and continuous growth.


Rambler, Rangelander, Spredor 4 (Creeper)

Rambler, Rangelander & Spredor 4 are rhizomatous, creeping root alfalfas known for excellent winter hardiness and drought tolerance.  It does well in Dryland and boggier areas.  Late maturing with slow regrowth after cutting.


Shaw was developed & released in 2000 by Montana Ag Experiment Station for increased forage yield under dryland conditions. Shaw has high resistance to Aphanomyces root rot & northern root-know nematode. Resistance to phytophthora root rot, pea aphid, psotted aphid & moderate resistance to Verticillium wilt, anthracnose & stem nematode. Flower color is 62% purple & 28% varigated with a trace of white, cream & yellow.


Vernal is a winter hardy, fine stemmed, leafy alfalfa with dark green color.  It is very palatable making it an excellent hay variety.  It is medium to late maturing with bacteria resistance, but can be susceptible to leafy spot.

Wrangler alfalfa is a high yielding, winter hardy public variety with a good disease and insect tolerance package. Wrangler ‘s usage is for short and long-term hay and rotational grazing.






Alsike is a perennial, reseeding variety adapted for hay pasture at higher elevations.  It is winter hardy and will tolerate temporary flooding yielding one cutting on irrigated or wet hay meadows. Alsike is somewhat acid tolerant, but has no drought tolerance.  It works well in blends containing Timothy and brome grasses.



Ladino is a very winter hardy, perennial white clover.  It is high yielding, high protein, very palatable and rich in vitamins and minerals.  It spreads by surface runners and is best adapted to well-drained silt loam and clay soils.  It has no salt or alkali tolerance and is best suited for planting in mixes.


Medium Red Cover

Medium Red Clover is a biannual plant that prefers heavy well-drained soils.  It can yield two cuttings with ample moisture.  Protein is lower than alfalfa and heavy growth can be hard to cure.  It can be seeded alone or in mixes and is susceptible to crown rot and other diseases.


White Dutch Clover

White Dutch Clover is suitable for pasture mixes.  It is high in nutrients and mineral content.


Sweet Clover

Sweet Clovers are biannual plants used in hay, pasture, soil building and reclamation applications.  They are drought resistant and do not do well on wet soils.  They have limited palatability and can have blood thinning agents that can cause them to abort their young.

       Yellow Blossom is well adapted to dry land pasture and hay mixes.  It has moderate salt tolerance.

       White Blossom is adapted to irrigated pasture.  It is very course and late maturing.  It is preferred in the honey 
       industry over YellowBlossom.





Birdsfoot Trefoil

Trefoil is a long-lived perennial legume that can be used in place of alfalfa.  It will perform better than alfalfa in soils that are poorly drained and can stand several weeks of flooding.  It will produce in low fertility soils and can reseed itself.  It is best seeded by itself because it does not tolerate shading fom tall grasses like brome or Timothy.  The seed is small and does not emerge if seeded to deeply.  A firm seedbed and shallow seeding are important (1/4 inch deep).


Cicer Milkvetch

Cicer is a long-lived, winter hardy perennial legume that can be used for hay, but is better suited for pasture mixes.  It is very palatable and appears to be bloat resistant when free grazed.  It tolerates high water tables with low alkali tolerance.  It grows best in areas of 15 inch or more of moisture and lighter soils.  Yield is equal to alfalfa with later spring growth.



Sainfoin is a deep-rooted perennial legume with vetch type foliage.  It has good drought resistance and is adapted to well-drained, high lime soil.  It is short lived, unless managed correctly & has yields higher than alfalfa.  Plants are course, but very palatable and nutritious, non-bloating and weevil resistant.  It is better for grazing than alfalfa due to the non-bloat. Could see a 20 year stand if managed correctly. Sainfoin has a high root crown, so if it's grazed too short, the stand will not make it through the winter. Needs to be inoculated.


Small Burnet

Small Burnet is a very winter hardy, long-lived, perennial evergreen forb.  It is adapted to a wide range of soil and climate conditions, but does not do well in poorly drained soils with high water tables.  It works well in range and disturbed site reclamation areas. 

Miscellaneous Grasses and Forage Grains



Millets are warm season annuals that can be used for forage chopping and emergency hay crop.  They require regular irrigation throughout the growing season to produce adequate tonnage.  The soil temperature must be 70 degrees or more to achieve optimum growth.  There are several cultivars of Millet available.  Proso Millet is used for hay (red and white are most common).  Foxtail or Manta Millet is used for hay.  German or Siberian are common hay varieties in this area.               (Millet is toxic to horses)


Sudan Grass

Sudan Grass is an annual, warm season grass that has excellent prolific tillering and fast regrowth.  This makes it an excellent grass for emergency hay when ample water is available.  It can be grazed when plants reach 15 – 18 inches tall.



Triticale is a close relative of wheat that results from pollinating durum wheat with rye pollen.  Its major strength is its versatility for use as feed, silage, grazing, cover crops and straw.  In addition to its high feed value, strengths of Triticale include management similar to other grains, cold tolerance, vigorous growth and resistance to many of the diseases and insects that affect wheat.  Consequently, fertilization, seedbed preparation and seeding methods used for wheat are acceptable for Triticale.  Triticale may provide significant rotational benefits when grown in sequence with corn and soybeans.



Winter Spelt are an awnless, brown chaffed cultivar with approximately the same maturity and equivalent winter hardiness as common spelt.  It is slightly taller and has considerably improved straw strength compared to common spelt.  It has very good resistance to leaf rust, moderately resistant to powdery mildew and very resistant to wheat spindle streak mosaic virus.  A MSU comparison study of wheat & spelt, confirmed that spelt does indeed have a considerably better uptake of soil nutrients and that it is more easily digested than wheat, and even oats, by livestock.  In contrast to free-threshing wheat, spelts are harvested with the hull around the kernel intact.









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