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Native Grass Seeding Santiago Misquez Rangeland Management Specialist

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1 Native Grass Seeding Santiago Misquez Rangeland Management Specialist
NRCS-SW Area-Socorro,NM Recognition: Dave Dreesen,PMC

2 Grass Types Based on Photosynthetic Pathways
Cool-season grasses Stipeae tribe (needlegrasses and ricegrasses) Warm-season grasses One of the key features that differentiate grass types is their photosynthetic pathway. This physiological attribute and other metabolic traits influence optimum growth temperature, flowering cues, area of adaptation, optimum time of year for seeding, water use efficiency, and seed burial depth. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

3 Cool-Season Grasses C-3 photosynthetic pathway
Flowering requires vernalization and/or short days followed by long days Growth optimum near 70° F (can grow as low as 35° F) Lower water use efficiency (less DM production/unit water) than C-4 grasses Long coleoptiles and short mesocotyls (festucoid development) allow adventitious root development near seeding depth Seeded during summer monsoons or dormant fall planting (expectation of moist soil in early spring) Dominate in regions where most precipitation falls in cooler months, at higher elevations or latitudes Cool-season grasses have optimum growth temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Flowering of cool-season grasses requires the plants to go through a cold season and-or short days followed by long days (that is, they typically flower in the spring). They can be seeded before summer rains. Emerging cool-season grass seedlings in late summer will be under stress from less than ideal growing temperatures at low elevation sites. However, if emergence is desired in the spring, the seed should be planted in the fall when temperatures are too cold for germination; this will prevent premature emergence which would expose the young seedlings to lethal cold temperatures. If ample soil moisture is available in the spring, fall seeding can be successful if late spring drought and drying winds do not desiccate the near surface soil moisture. Cool-season grasses in the West are most typically found in mountain ecoregions or in cold desert ecoregions that get winter moisture such as the Great Basin. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center Source: T. A. Jones, 1997

4 Stipeae Tribe (includes needlegrasses and ricegrasses)
C-3 photosynthetic pathway Lacks mechanism to store carbohydrates at cool temperatures Many species do not require vernalization and are photoperiod insensitive Optimal growth temperatures greater than cool-season species Found in climates too warm for other cool-season grasses The grasses in the Stipeae tribe (which contains many species formally classified in the Stipa genus) have a cool-season physiology but lack certain storage carbohydrates. The upshot is these grasses typically do better than cool-season grasses in warmer climes. Most of the species are commonly called needlegrass or ricegrass. Source: T. A. Jones, 1997 Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

5 Warm-Season Grasses C-4 photosynthetic pathway
May require short days to flower but do not require vernalization Growth optimum near 90° F with little growth below 60° F Higher water use efficiencies than C-3 grasses Mesocotyl elongation (i.e., subcoleoptile internode) forces adventitious roots to develop near soil surface (panicoid development) Seeded during summer monsoons (late spring before monsoons), generally difficult to establish because of desiccating conditions in the arid SW Often principal grasses where summer precipitation predominates, at lower elevations and latitudes The C4 photosynthetic pathway allows warm season grasses to have growth optimums near 90 degrees Fahrenheit with little growth below 60 degrees. They are best seeded in anticipation of summer monsoons since they need warm temperatures and moisture to germinate and grow. They typically are found in western ecoregions with summer precipitation patterns and at lower elevations including the Chihuahuan desert, the Sonoran desert, and southern high plains. The physiological differences among the these grass categories result in montane regions generally having a preponderance of cool-season grasses and a few Stipeae and warm-season grasses, mid-elevation zones (such as the piñon/juniper ecoregion) having a mix of all three types, and lower elevations having primarily warm-season grasses, some Stipeae, and a few cool-season grasses. Source: T. A. Jones, 1997 Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

6 Festucoid Development (Subcoleoptile Internode)
Adventitious Root Development Warm- versus Cool-Season Grasses Warm-Season Grass Panicoid Development Cool-Season Grass Festucoid Development Coleoptile Adventitious Roots In addition to time of seeding, one of the most important differences between cool-season and warm-season grasses are the seedling structures including the coleopotile and mesocotyl. The coleoptile serves as a protective sheath to shield the initial shoot as it emerges from the soil. If the seed is buried too deep, the coleoptile can not reach the soil surface and the seedling will likely perish. In cool-season grasses with what is called festucoid development, the adventitious roots typically develop near the seed position because the mesocotyl does not elongate. In warm season grasses, the adventitious roots develop at the top of an elongating mesocotyl, sometimes called the subcoleoptile internode. The reason why this is significant is that the adventitious roots become the main root system of the growing plant, while the primary and seminal roots only serve the plant in the early growth phase. Therefore, warm-season grasses are typically attempting to develop their root system near the soil surface where soil moisture is often lacking. If the adventitious roots do not have moisture to grow, the plant will likely die. Warm-season grasses have the photosynthetic pathway appropriate for hot desert regions, but their seed development makes them very susceptible to desiccation in the early seedling stages. Many of the Stipeae tribe can tolerate deep seed burial, and species such as Indian ricegrass almost require it. Mesocotyl (Subcoleoptile Internode) Seminal Roots Seed Primary Root System Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

7 Seeding Grasses Seed Depth – Emergence versus moisture
Dormancy – An advantageous trait for seed to persist for later precipitation events or future years Soil Compaction – Survival is dependent on rapid root extension Seed to Soil Contact – To facilitate imbibition (absorption of fluid by a solid results in swelling) of soil moisture by seed Moisture Relations and Soil Texture – Infiltration depth versus water holding capacity Mulch – Essential step in arid regions to take full advantage of the limited amount of moisture received There are number of key factors influencing the success of a seeding project. The depth of seed placement is a critical factor – we are trying to balance shallow seeding depths to allow high rates of emergence versus the better moisture conditions with increasing depth. The presence of some dormant seed can be a advantageous because it provides a reserve of viable seed if less than optimum moisture conditions have allowed most of the seed to germinate but then die of desiccation. The ability of seedling roots to follow the downward drying front can be inhibited by shallow compaction zones. Large soil voids can prevent adequate seed to soil contact and reduce upward capillary movement of soil moisture which can retard germination and growth. Recent research has shown that seeds can germinate fully by uptake of water vapor and not necessarily liquid water. Of course, the master factor in our arid ecoregions is soil moisture. The influence of soil texture on water infiltration can be a key variable in seeding success. Use of mulch should be considered an essential step in our arid climate to take maximum advantage of what little precipitation we receive. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

8 Seeding Depth for Optimal Emergence under Ideal Moisture Conditions
Recommended seeding depths for most native grasses are from ¼ to ½ inch deep Some extremely small seed such as many dropseeds (Sporobolus species) and some muhlys (Muhlenbergia species) should be surface broadcast; such small seed will be buried by raindrop impact or during mulch application and crimping A few species prefer deep burial including Indian ricegrass For most native grasses, the recommended seeding depth is one-quarter to one-half inch. However, some large seeded native species (such as wheatgrasses) can be seeded somewhat deeper – between one-half and one inch deep. Very small seed can be easily sown too deep so it is often surface broadcast and incorporated into soil by raindrop impact or mulching activities. Some species such as Indian ricegrass are adapted to deep burial. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

9 Seeding Grasses and Weed Control
Reduce the weed seed bank in the surface soil by controlling weeds for several years prior to seeding (herbicides, mowing, burning…) Application of broadleaf herbicides after seedlings are established Mow weeds in grass sward before annual weeds set viable seed Do not add nitrogen fertilizer at seeding because weed species will be favored We have become acutely aware in recent years of the importance of controlling invasive annual weeds prior to seeding. Where this has been most obvious are those areas which have undergone saltcedar control by either herbicide or mechanical means. The proliferation of kochia and to some degree Russian thistle (or tumbleweed) on these sites has precluded any seeding until the weed seed bank can be drastically reduced. A key is to prevent the weeds from going to seed in their first year of growth so as not to compound the weed problem. Herbicide application and mowing of weeds prior to seed set can be effective. As an aside, it is usually recommended to forgo any nitrogen fertilizer with native grass seedings because the nitrogen favors weed growth over grass growth. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

10 Mulch Application after Seeding
Native grass hay (some residual seed OK) is the most desirable mulch for large seeding projects Apply in a layer of sufficient depth to shade soil and reduce wind desiccation, but thin enough to allow seedlings to emerge without restriction (porous hay layer with some soil visible) Hydromulch wood fiber applied as slurry Erosion control blankets Wood or bark chips applied in a thin layer Gravel mulch (1” deep aids emergence of galleta, 1.5” to 2” prevents emergence) As mentioned earlier, mulch application provides one of the few opportunities to preserve limited soil moisture as well as increasing infiltration. Mulches are noted for their usefulness in conserving moisture by reducing evaporation and lowering soil temperature in arid areas. Native grass hay is one of the best materials and if it has some residual seed so much the better. The mulch needs to be applied dense enough to shade the soil and prevent wind desiccation, but not so thick as to retard grass emergence. In addition, the hay should be crimped into the soil to secure some of the hay as well as provide low vertical barriers to prevent excessive hay movement. Hydromulch and erosion control blankets are expensive but may be the only alternatives on steep slopes. Tackifiers are required to glue hydromulch and staples or pins to secure blankets. Wood chips can be an effective mulch if applied in a thin layer after seeding. In order to seed into plant litter such as wood chips, the mulch layer would need to be moved aside to allow seed placement into mineral soil without incorporating excessive amounts of litter into the soil. Even gravel or rock mulch can be effective if not applied too thickly. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

11 Mulch Effect on Seedling Establishment – Slender Wheatgrass Broadcast at 50 PLS/ft2 and Sprinkler Irrigated Treatment Seedlings per Square Foot Broadcast 3 - 7 Broadcast and raked 10 -11 Broadcast and excelsior mat mulch Broadcast and hay mulch Broadcast and bark mulch An example of the benefits of mulch application is shown in this study conducted by the Montana Plant Materials Center. Seed was broadcast and then either raked or had various mulch types applied. The positive effect of mulch application on seedling establishment is clear and definitive. Source: M. Majerus, Plant Materials Center, Bridger, MT Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

12 Precipitation - “The Master Input”
Seeding success is dependent on sufficient soil moisture following germination to allow seedling establishment Species having both early and late germinating seed are favored in variable environments Consistent rainfall for a prolonged period is necessary for warm-season grasses to establish Survival of first dry period following a biologically significant rain requires seedlings to have sufficient vigor to survive the subsequent dry period or viable but un-germinated seed remaining after first wet period We have already described precipitation as the master input controlling biological processes in arid and semiarid regions. The pattern of soil moisture after the initial biologically significant rain will determine the fate of the seeding because most native grasses will germinate following this moisture input and if soil moisture declines too rapidly all of these seed will die. By seeding species with early and late germination (that is the number of days from imbibition to seed germination) the chances of success are increased. Especially with warm season grasses, a consistent rainfall pattern is needed to provide sufficient moisture to allow germination and sufficient root development to allow survival through the following dry periods. Because warm season grasses require warm soil temperatures to germinate, they are trying to establish during seasons when evaporative loss of soil moisture is usually very high. How the seed reacts to first significant rainfall will have much to do with the fate of the seeded species. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

13 Establishment Blue grama requires 21 days after germination for adventitious roots to reach a 4-inch depth and the seedling to have 6 leaves and 2 tillers Adventitious roots arise up to 9 days after germination and reach seminal root depth in approximately 21 days Because the last slide addressed seedling establishment, it might be good to detour for a moment from our consideration of the importance of precipitation. To give you an idea of how long it might take to consider a seedling to be established, studies with blue grama under optimum conditions show that 21 days after germination adventitious root have reached a 4 inch depth. These studies have also shown that it takes up to 9 days after germination before adventitious roots begin to develop. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

14 Frequency Analysis of Size of Precipitation Individual Events or Storms (precipitation on successive days) in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert from We have mentioned precipitation events that are biologically significant. In looking at data from the Jornada Experimental Range, individual events and storms (that is precipitation on successive days) yielding less than 5 mm (or 2 tenths of an inch) occur on average 15 to 25 times a year. However, a significant precipitation event of a half inch will typically occur only a few times in an average year and a one inch event or greater event perhaps only once during an average year. Source: Reynolds et al. 2004 Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

15 Soil Moisture Distribution in Arid Environments
Upper 2” to 4” of soil dries out rapidly by evaporation following a precipitation event (little water available for plant uptake) Soil moisture in the top 4” to 12” can persist for several weeks Moisture under unsaturated conditions at depths below 12” is primarily lost by plant transpiration (no evaporation and no drainage) Precipitation that is able to infiltrate the soil surface has varying degrees of persistence depending on how deep it percolates. Moisture in the top 2 to 4 inches can dry out very rapidly in arid regions with high evaporative demand (that is high solar input, low humidity, and drying winds). However, if moisture percolates below about 12 inches it will be used primarily by plant transpiration with very little lost to evaporation or deep drainage. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

16 “Inverse Texture Effect”
The depth of wetting is proportional to the amount of infiltrating precipitation soil moisture storage capacity The storage capacity is 4 to 9% for sands, 11 to 15% for sandy loams, and 17 to 23% for fine-textured soils The depth of soil wetting will be greater for coarse-textured soil than for fine-textured soils. Coarse-textured soils hold less water per unit depth but much of the water is sufficiently deep to avoid evaporation, whereas in a fine-textured soil most of the water can be lost to evaporation Therefore, sandy soils often have more useable soil moisture in arid environments The term “inverse texture effect” has been proposed to indicate that in arid regions coarse-textured soils have more useable soil moisture than fine-textured soils. This is the inverse of what happens in moist climates where heavier soils have higher available moisture capacity. The reasoning behind this inverse texture effect has to do with the depth of wetting in coarse soils which is related to the water storage capacity of the soil. In a coarse sand an infiltration event will penetrate much deeper than in clay soil. The key is that much of the moisture in the coarse-textured soil is deep enough to avoid being lost rapidly to evaporation. Source: Noy-Meir 1973 Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

17 Influence of Soil Texture on Moisture Penetration – One Inch Infiltration Event and Dry Soil (Wilting Point) Soil Texture Depth of moisture penetration (inches) Coarse sand 20 Sand 12 Sandy loam 8 Silt Loam 5 This slide presents some examples of the depth of moisture penetration that would expected into dry soils of various textures. Sands have penetration depths 2 to 4 times those of heavy soils assuming an equivalent amount of infiltrated moisture. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

18 Minimal Surface Sealing Moderate Surface Sealing
Influence of Soil Texture and Surface Sealing on Average Water Infiltration Rates (inches/hour) Soil Texture Minimal Surface Sealing Moderate Surface Sealing Coarse sand 0.85 0.50 Fine sand 0.60 0.35 Fine sandy loam 0.45 0.25 Silt loam 0.20 Clay loam 0.15 Another effect of soil texture is on water infiltration rates. Coarse textured soils can have infiltration rates 2 to 6 times those of fine-textured soils. During intense rain events, water unable to infiltrate will either pond or runoff. Runoff will be water lost from upland sites. If the water ponds, it will readily evaporate when drying conditions return. These infiltration characteristics accentuate the inverse texture effect. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center Source: Pair 1983

19 Variables Related to Drying Rate and Grass Seedling Establishment in a Sandy Loam Soil
Slow Moderate Fast Probability of grass seedling establishment high low very low Soil water content 0.4 to 1.2 inches 24% 22% 17% 1.5 to 2.5 18% 8% 3.0 to 4.0 25% 5% 4.5 to 5.5 15% 4% Total soil water in upper 6 inches of soil 1.4 in 1.1 in 0.5 in Number of days until drying front exceeds rooting depth 7-8 4 2 Other variables related to drying rate – cumulative precipitation for prior 4 days, air temperature, vapor pressure deficit The establishment of grass seedlings is quite dependent on the drying rate of the surface soil. A study conducted in the Sonoran semidesert grassland of southeast Arizona showed that slow drying rates correspond to a high probability of grass seedling survival. Compared with soils undergoing fast drying, the slow drying soils had uniformly high water content in the top 6 inches of soil, 3 times the total soil water content, and it took 4 times as long for the drying front to exceed seedling rooting depth. High seedling survival is correlated with the large cumulative precipitation for the prior 4 days, low air temperatures, and low vapor pressure deficits (that is high humidity). Source : Roundy et al. 1997 Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

20 Soil Water Content (% vol.)
Patterns of Soil Water Loss over Time Sandy Loam Surface Soil (0.4 to 1.2 inch depth) Soil Water Content (% vol.) This same study presented data on soil water loss in the uppermost surface soil for 4 days following precipitation events under different drying conditions and mulch applications. As expected, the slow drying periods had moisture at or above field capacity for 4 days, the moderate drying regimes dipped below field capacity at 36 hours and below permanent wilting point at 72 hours, and the fast drying episodes dropped below field capacity at 18 hours and below permanent wilting point at 36 hours. Under the moderate drying periods, a gravel mulch of a quarter inch of decomposed granite prolonged drying to field capacity by about 36 hours and to permanent wilting point by almost 48 hours. Under fast drying conditions, the gravel mulch prolonged drying to permanent wilting point by about 24 hours. Source : Roundy et al. 1997 Drying Time (hr) Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

21 Irrigation from Mid-July through August to Enhance Establishment on Abandoned Farmland in the Sonoran Desert (Supplementing Precipitation of 2.8 inches) Species Amount of irrigation (inches) required to obtain high density establishment in 1992/1993 Amount of irrigation (inches) required to obtain some establishment in 1992/1993 Purple threeawn 7.4/- 0/- Cane bluestem 5.3/4.7 0/1.5 Arizona cottontop 1.2/1.5 Galleta 7.4/NA Spike dropseed 5.3/NA Catclaw acacia Creosotebush 7.4/5.5 Velvet mesquite Another example of how much soil moisture is required to establish native plants in arid regions is illustrated in this data where sprinkler irrigation was used to establish plants on abandoned farmland in the Sonoran desert. The summer monsoons provided an average of 2.8 inches, but to achieve high rates of establishment an additional 4 to 7 inches was required and to achieve some establishment required little supplemental water for some species but a considerable amount for other species. NA – high density not achieved Source: Roundy et al 2001 Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

22 Seed Source Islands or Resource Islands
Focus limited resources on small areas Rely on natural seed dispersal to allow expansion into outlying areas Apply intensive resources in a small area to enhance establishment Weed control Supplemental water (rainfall harvesting or minimal irrigation) Exclosures to control grazers/browsers (rodents to elk) Use transplants of grasses, forbs, and shrubs to assure establishment and provide immediate diversity Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

23 Seeding Rates and Mixes
20 to 60 PLS per lineal foot – drilled 20 to 60 PLS per square foot – broadcast (rates usually higher because fewer seeds are at optimum soil depth) Common usage - 40 PLS per square foot Total seeding rate for a mix should be 40 to 60 PLS – percentage of each species will depend on desired plant community, vigor of the seedling (competition between species), seed size, PLS seed cost Seeding rate studies have shown that seeding rates in excess of 40 PLS seed per lineal foot for drilled seed do not generally provide any benefit. If a seed mix is expensive a rate of 20 PLS per foot might be adequate. When broadcasting seed, higher rates are usually recommended because fewer of the seed will end up at optimum burial depth. When developing seed mixes these same overall seeding rates are reasonable. In addition to the species composition of the desired plant community, variables including seedling vigor, seed size, and seed cost will influence the proportions of the seed mix. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

24 An Example of a Seed Mix Calculation for a Sandy Arid Site
No. of PLS/ Common Name Type Pound PLS Moisture Use Avail. Indian ricegrass (IR) Stipeae 160k very xeric yes Black grama (BG) WS 1,300k very xeric maybe Sand dropseed (SD) WS 5,600k xeric yes Spike dropseed WS 2,800k xeric ? Mesa dropseed WS 3,300k very xeric ? Giant dropseed WS 1,400k very xeric ? Mix percentages based on seed and seedling characteristics IR 25% (large, dormant seed; vigorous seedling; moderate cost per pound) BG 15% (small seed; low vigor seedling; high cost per pound) SD 60% (very small seed; low survival; inexpensive) PLS rates per square foot – IR 10, BG 6, SD 24 PLS per acre – IR 435k, BG 260k, SD 1,050k PLS per pound – IR 160k, BG 1,300k, SD 5,600K Pounds PLS per acre – IR 2.7, BG 0.20, SD 0.19 Hypothetical PLS from seed testing – IR 0.70, BG 0.40, SD 0.85 Bulk pounds per acre – IR 3.9, BG 0.50, SD 0.22 To give you an idea of how a seed mix might be developed, we will consider a sandy very arid site such as would be found in the northern Chihuahuan desert. A potential list of 6 species are listed that are adapted to this aridity and coarse-textured soils. Several of these may not be routinely available so we reduced the mix to the first 3 species listed. Certified seed should be provided with sufficient purity and germination data to allow you to calculate the pure live seed per bulk pound in your seedlots. The next step is too determine the proportion of each species in the mix. In this case, black grama is a very expensive seed so the percentage was kept low. The indian ricegrass seed is large and dormant so it has a good chance of establishment so the percentage was kept fairly low. The sand dropseed is inexpensive but has a very small seed which will probably have low rates of establishment because it can easily be buried too deep and the tiny seedling is very vulnerable to environmental stresses. Therefore, a high percentage of sand dropseed is included. These proportions are used to calculate the number of pure live seed per square foot to obtain a total of 40 PLS per foot. These numbers are then multiplied by the number of square feet per acre, 43,560, to come up with the number of PLS seed per acre which can then be converted to PLS pounds and bulk pounds per acre. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

25 Mean Annual Precipitation <8 8-10 10-12 12-14 14-16 16-18 18-20
20-24 24-28 32-36 36-40 40-44 This map shows the mean annual precipitation in New Mexico based on 1960 through 1990 data. As the various ecoregions are discussed including arid, semi-arid, prairie, and montane, maps delineating these regions will be presented. The slide that follows will show estimated evaporation from a free water surface, that is a lake, for various regions. The aridity of precipitation zones above should be kept in context of the drying potential as expressed by evaporation. As example, examine the extreme aridity of the San Juan Basin and the Taos intermountain valley and the relative semi-aridity of the southeastern Pecos plains and valley. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

26 Annual Lake Evaporation (inches) >80 70-79 60-69 50-59 40-49 30-39
<30 The evaporation potential within the San Juan Basin and Taos intermountain valley is from 20 to 40 inches per year lower than that found in southeastern New Mexico. The balance of precipitation and evaporation will be a key factor in determining the potential plant community. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

27 New Mexico Arid Ecoregions <10 inches Mean Annual Precipitation
To give you a better idea where the various ecoregions are found in New Mexico, we have delineated the zones of mean annual precipitation. The arid regions are primarily the Middle and Lower Rio Grande Valley as well as the San Juan Basin, that is the Chihuahuan Desert and the Colorado Plateau desert grasslands and shrublands. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

28 Soil Texture Triangle Texture Classes Coarse Intermediate (Loam) Fine
The tables that follow will give soil preferences for various species that might be included in seed mixes for several different ecoregions. The soil categories have been broadly classified as coarse-, intermediate- and fine-textured in the species mix tables. Coarse includes sands to sandy loams, intermediate includes loams to silts, and fine-textured includes the remaining texture classes. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

29 Soil Texture Influences Species Used in Seed Mixes for Chihuahuan (ch) and Colorado Plateau (cp) Desert (<10” ppt.) Sites Coarse Texture - Sandy Intermediate Texture - Loam Fine Texture - Clayey Indian Ricegrass** Arizona Cottontop** (ch) > < Galleta** Sand Dropseed** Bottlebrush Squirreltail** Alkali Sacaton** Black Grama* (ch) Bush Muhly (ch) Tobosa (ch) Giant Dropseed* Desert Needlegrass* Mesa Dropseed (ch) Sandhill Muhly (cp) In the this and the following tables, species are listed in only one texture class. However, some species are adapted to an adjacent texture class and these have been indicated with arrows pointing to the adjacent texture class. These texture classifications are to be used as rough guides and not as clear delineators of adaptation. In the case of arid desert sites, the species are all warm season with the exception of bottlebrush squirreltail, indian ricegrass, and desert needlegrass (the last two being members of the Stipeae tribe). Some of these species are only found in the Colorado Plateau desert and are noted with the letters “cp” and similarly for the Chihuahuan desert with letters “ch”. We have also tried to indicate relative availability with asterisks. ** Likely available * Possibly available Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

30 New Mexico Semi-Arid Ecoregions 10 - 14 inches Mean Annual Precipitation
The semi-arid ecoregions are the remaining lower elevation areas including the some of the Chihuahuan Desert, the Pecos plains and valleys, some of the western plateau, and the high intermountain valley near Taos. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

31 Soil Texture Influences Species Used in Seed Mixes for Dry Plains, Sagebrush (sb), and Piñon/Juniper (10-14” ppt.) Sites Coarse Texture - Sandy Intermediate Texture - Loam Fine Texture - Clayey Muttongrass* > < Blue Grama** Buffalograss** (not sb) Needle and Thread* Sideoats Grama** (not sb) Vine Mesquite* Cane Bluestem** Thickspike Wheatgrass** Western Wheatgrass** Prairie Junegrass* Bluebunch Wheatgrass* Curly Mesquite* Purple Threeawn** Green Sprangletop* Most Desert Species Plains Bristlegrass** Giant Sacaton* For ecoregions with about 10 to 14 inches of precipitation, a larger number of cool season grasses are represented (muttongrass, prairie junegrass, as well as thickspike, bluebunch, and western wheatgrass, and the one Stipeae (needle and thread). Many of the species listed in the previous slide for desert ecoregions will be adapted to dry plains, sagebrush or piñon/juniper sites. ** Likely available * Possibly available Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

32 New Mexico Prairie (High Plains) Ecoregions >14 inches Mean Annual Precipitation
The area of eastern New Mexico encompassing the zone with greater than 14 inches of precipitation includes the southern high plains, and parts of the Canadian and Pecos plains and valleys. Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

33 Soil Texture Influences Species Used in Seed Mixes for Prairie (>14” ppt.) Sites
Coarse Texture - Sandy Intermediate Texture - Loam Fine Texture - Clayey Letterman Needlegrass* > < Big Bluestem** Green Needlegrass* Sand Bluestem** Switchgrass** Some Plains and Montane Species Plains Lovegrass** Little Bluestem** Sand Lovegrass** Indiangrass** Canada Wildrye** The short grass prairie or high plains grass group is primarily made up of warm season grasses along with a cool-season (Canada wildrye) and 2 Stipeae grasses (green and Letterman’s needlegrass). These grasses are typically found on more mesic sites such as bottomlands or swales with the uplands dominated by species in the previous group such as blue grama and sideoats grama. ** Likely available * Possibly available Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

34 New Mexico Montane Ecoregions > 16 inches Mean Annual Precipitation
Montane areas with greater than 16 inches of precipitation are shown in this map Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

35 Soil Texture Influences on Species Used in Seed Mixes for Montane Sites
Coarse Texture - Sandy Intermediate Texture - Loam Fine Texture - Clayey Pine Dropseed* Mountain Brome** > Mat Muhly Nodding Brome* Tufted Hairgrass** < Beardless Wildrye** Spike Muhly** Blue Wildrye** Slender Wheatgrass** Littleseed Ricegrass Sandberg Bluegrass* Some PJ, Plains, and Prairie Species Fringed Brome* Arizona Fescue** Mountain Muhly* Deergrass Montane sites are dominated by cool-season grasses but a few warm season grasses are candidate species including muhlys (spike, mountain, deergrass, and mat) and pine dropseed. ** Likely available * Possibly available Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

36 Soil Texture Influences Species Used in Seed Mixes for Wet Meadow Sites
Coarse Texture - Sandy Intermediate Texture - Loam Fine Texture - Clayey Common Reed ** > Nuttal Alkaligrass** < Inland Saltgrass** Alkali Muhly* Knotgrass Mexican Muhly (Vine Mesquite)* Fowl Mannagrass* (Beardless Wildrye)** Meadow Barley** Reed Canarygrass ** (Switchgrass)** Wet meadow sites have approximately the same number of cool- and warm-season grass species. The species noted with parentheses were included in the prior tables but are also somewhat adapted to wet meadow sites. ** Likely available * Possibly available Los Lunas Plant Materials Center

37 Resources www.nm.nrcs.usda.gov
Standards/Specs: Critical Area Planting & Range Planting Los Lunas Plant Materials Center


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