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A Provisional Model for Smooth Brome
Management in Degraded Tallgrass Prairie

by

Gary D. Willson1 and James Stubbendieck2


Smooth brome (Bromus inermis) is a Eurasian grass that is planted as a forage and cover crop throughout Canada and the northern United States (Fig. 1) (Carlson and Newell, 1985 ). In warm-season pastures and native prairies, smooth brome is considered a highly competitive weed because of its rhizomatous, sod-forming root system and prolific seed production. Dill and his colleagues (1986) attributed the invasion and dominance of smooth brome in warm-season pastures to overgrazing, while other researchers, such as Old (1969), suggested that a lack of fire may be a factor.

In this article, we present a provisional model for managers who choose to control smooth brome through the use of prescribed burns. We developed the model following research on smooth brome management at the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead, Nebraska, and at Pipestone National Monument near Pipestone, Minnesota. We begin, however, by reviewing the literature on smooth brome tiller morphology, especially its use of carbohydrate reserves, and by discussing management practices for the control of smooth brome.

"Well-timed burns are key to controlling smooth brome and encouraging native grasses."   figure showing smooth brome growth throughout North America
Figure 1.   Smooth brome has been planted throughout most of North America. Its ability to outcompete native grasses is well known, but Willson and Stubbendieck believe that it can be controlled with burns properly timed to take advantage of its low carbohydrate reserves.

This resource is based on the following source (Northern Prairie Publication 1083):
Willson, Gary D., and James Stubbendieck.  2000.  A provisional model for smooth 
     brome management in degraded tallgrass prairie.  Ecological Restoration 
     18(1):34-38.

This resource should be cited as:

Willson, Gary D., and James Stubbendieck.  2000.  A provisional model for smooth 
     brome management in degraded tallgrass prairie.  Ecological Restoration 
     18(1):34-38.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/plants/sbrome/index.htm  
     (Version 08DEC2000).

Table of Contents

List of Figures


1 Gary D. Willson is a ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, Jamestown, North Dakota; and an adjunct professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, 200 Gentry Hall, Columbia, Missouri 65211 USA.
2 James Stubbendieck is a professor of Rangeland Ecology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Department of Agronomy, 349 Klein Hall, Lincoln, Nebraska 68583 USA.
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