Wildrye, Virginia

Botanical Name Elymus virgincus


Virginia Wildrye is a native, cool-season, perennial bunchgrass which grows two to three feet in height. It reproduces by tillering and seed. Virginia Wildrye self-fertilizes, but has been known to hybridize into grass.

ADAPTATION AND DISTRIBUTION: Virginia Wildrye prefers moist soils, high soil fertility, heavier soil textures, and it is shade tolerant. It can be found scattered on shaded banks, along fencerows and in open woodlands. Virginia Wildrye can be found throughout the United States except for Nevada, California, and Oregon. In Texas, it can be found occasionally throughout most regions with the exception of the most Western fifth of the state.

ESTABLISHMENT: Virginia Wildrye is best established from seed. It has bad consistent germination percentages above 85 percent. For South and South Central Texas, plantings should be done in the early fall on a clean, firm, weed-free seedbed with adequate soil moisture. Virginia Wildrye can be drilled at a minimum of ten pounds of pure live seed per acre, or broadcast at twenty pounds of pure live seed per acre. If it is a critical area planting or if dense coverage is desired, double the seeding rate.

LIVESTOCK: Virginia Wildrye is very palatable and nutritious and is readily eaten by all classes of livestock in the spring and fall while it is green. It can be used in range restoration as a cool-season grass, and in native range seed mixes. It can also be used as a cool-season pasture grass in shaded, wooded, or riparian areas. Virginia Wildrye is a good forage producer. It can produce as much as 3,300 lbs of dry weight forage per dry land acre.

MANAGEMENT: Virginia Wildrye should not be grazed the first year in order to allow the formation of a strong root system. Once established, graze on a rotational basis throughout the cool season. Optimum forage height for use is between 4 and 10 inches. Virginia wildrye can be grown dry land or with irrigation. It should not be fertilized after planting until the new plants have become established. After the stand is established, fertilize as indicated by the results of recent soil tests.

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