restricted access Evaluation of wildrye (Elymus spp.) as a potential forage and conservation planting for northeast Mississippi

In northeast Mississippi, a native, cool-season grass component is needed for restoring and reclaiming grasslands and for providing quality forage for livestock. A field trial was established in Starkville, Mississippi, during fall 2010 to evaluate 18 entries of cool-season, perennial grasses (all Poaceae): 8 Elymus species including a Mississippi ecotype of southeastern wildrye (Elymus glabriflorus (Vasey ex L.H. Dewey) Scribn. & C.R. Ball), orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.), tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort., nom. cons.), timothy (Phleum pratense L.), and wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium (Host) Barkworth & D.R. Dewey) cultivars. The nonnative entries, specifically the orchardgrass and tall fescue cultivars, outperformed the native entries in height, dry matter yield, and ground cover ratings. Forage quality analysis, which included neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber, and crude protein, however, indicated statistical similarities between Elymus species and domesticated, nonnative cultivars. Results from these experiments express the potential for improving agronomic characteristics in native germplasm for intensively managed grazing systems.