Dropseed, Sand

Planting Rate Broadcast: 1 PLS LB per Acre _ Drilled: 0.5 PLS LB per Acre
Plant Height 2-4 FT
Seed Count 5,300,000 Seeds per LB
Botanical Name Sporobolus cryptandrus
Life Cycle Perennial
Environment Full Sun
Preferred Sites Dry Sandy Well-Drained Soils


A native warm-season perennial bunch grass which is very drought tolerant. Sand Dropseed makes its home on dry, sandy soils and will do quite well on medium-textured soils. It will probably out-perform Sand Lovegrass on extremely hot, dry, sandy areas. It can take over old stands of other plants on these dry sites. Is a good grass for erodible sites in these areas. Sand Dropseed has a ring of short stiff hair around the leaf collar, and the sheath has transparent margins. The leaf blades have finely toothed margins and the blade below the seed head forms a right angle to the culm.

This is a tufted, native bunchgrass abundant in the Southern Plains and from Idaho to Oregon Southward. It is most prevalent on sandy soil. Plants are 2 to 3 feet tall, with solid stems and rather numerous leaves up to 12 inches long and 0.25 inch wide. Roots are coarse and deep-penetrating. The plants produce a fairly large amount of foliage which is eaten readily by livestock while green, but sparingly when ripe. If not overgrazed, stands tend to increase in density. It produces seed in abundance and is useful for reseeding depleted range land. Its relatively low palatability, however, limits its overall usefulness.

GROWTH CHARACTERISTICS: A perennial bunchgrass, without rhizomes, growing 1 to 2 ½ feet tall in small tufts; erect to spreading or decumbent at base. It starts growth in the early spring and seeds mature June to August. It produces an abundance of seeds, and reproduces readily from seeds and tillers.

SEEDHEAD: An open panicle, up to 10 inches long. Its often reddish or lead-colored at flowering, and often partly or entirely enclosed in the uppermost leaf sheath. Spikelets are very small and contain 1 floret. Seed shatters from lemma and palea, hence the name "Dropseed."

LEAVES: Blades are glabrous, short (4 to 8 inches), flat and moderately wide at base, but rolled toward the pointed tips. They become frayed or "flagged" at maturity by the wind. Sheaths are fringed on margins, most prominently on overlapping margins, otherwise glabrous. Conspicuous tuft of stiff white hairs are present around the collar. Ligules are comprised of a fringe of short hairs; auricles are absent.

ADAPTATION: Sand Dropseed is native to many of the low elevation and low rainfall rangelands of Utah. It occurs on several upland and semi-desert sites, with precipitation between 5 to 15 inches annually.

SOILS: It commonly grows on sandy soils, but is adapted to medium textured soils as well. It is also found, but to a lesser extent, on gravelly, stony, and cobbly sandy loams. Sand Dropseed is not tolerant of wet soils.

USES AND MANAGEMENT:Being a warm-season grass, Sand Dropseed is better suited for summer grazing than for spring range. It provides fair to good forage for cattle, sheep and horses. It is also used to some extent by antelope, deer, small mammals, and upland game birds. The forage value declines rapidly with maturity. Sand Dropseed will increase with excessive grazing or after drought, but is susceptible to severe drought. Sand Dropseed is a very essential grass for wind erosion control on sandy soil sites. It inhibits water pollution by reducing the blowing of sand into stream channels. New seedlings of Sand Dropseed should not be grazed for 2 or 3 growing seasons depending on climatic conditions, especially the amount of moisture. After plant establishment, it will tolerate harvest of about 50 percent of the annual growth.
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