Old World Bluestem Serious Invader Of Native Kansas Grasslands

Native grasslands are being invaded by yet another menace.

Some would contend this intruder is one of its own, and it truly does seem to be.

As a surprise to most unaware cattle producers, what is simply called Old World Bluestem is  becoming an increasing problem, while reducing stocking capacity in pasturelands across northeast Kansas.

“Actually, Caucasian Bluestem is the non-native species that is drought tolerant and very aggressive, but lower in quality than native grasses. Thus, cattle generally will not graze it in the pastures, causing sharp reduction in cattle gains, and markedly lowering grassland stocking capacity,” according to Robin Reid at the River Valley Extension District in Washington.

“Once Old World Bluestem gets established, it is very hard to control and can take over an entire pasture,” Reid warned.

Therefore, a special Old World Bluestem Control program has been planned by Reid on Thursday evening, Dec. 5, at the City Hall in Miltonvale.

Walt Fick, a rangeland specialist from Kansas State University, and Dwayne Rise also a rangeland expert for the Natural Resource and Conservation Service, will present information on the difficult identification and control of this invasive grass.

It’ll be a supper meeting from 5 o’clock to 8 p.m., sponsored by the First National Bank of Hope, which also has a location at Miltonvale, with preregistration requested by Reid at 785-325-2121, or e-mail: robinreid@ksu.edu.

“Dr. Fick has worked on some Old World Bluestem research projects in the past, and is starting several new ones next year on various control methods. I see this as a serious threat to Kansas pasturelands,” Reid stated.

Old World Bluestem
Concordia rancher Gordon Morrison shows Caucasian Bluestem, generally referred to as Old World Bluestem, that has invaded his Cloud County native pastures sharply reducing stocking capacity. A River Valley Extension District meeting for landowners to learn more about identification and control of the pasture invader is set Thursday evening, December 5, at Miltonvale.

One rancher who has severe problems with Old World Bluestem invading his Cloud County pastures is Gordon Morrison of Concordia.

“Cattle will not eat Old World Bluestem, or Silver Bluestem which is also becoming a problem for us. I estimate that we need 50 percent more acreage for a cow and calf to make up for the reduction in pastures feed value caused by these intruders,” Morrison explained.

“These two invading grasses should be a concern for all Kansans, but most landowners are not even aware of the problem as the intruders look so much like our good Bluestem grasses but are not succulent. The grasses may taste bitter to cattle, sheep, horses and goats as they definitely not being eaten,” Morrison contended.

“In some pastures, Old World Bluestem and Silver Bluestem are by far the most prevalent grasses. The good plants such as Big and Little Bluestems and Grama grasses are being over grazed and grubbed into the ground, while the intruding grasses flourish, because they are not being grazed. These nasty grasses even push out the good Bluestems and take over quality grass areas,” insisted Morrison, noting that Old World Bluestem originated in Turkey and neighboring countries.

“It is imperative that livestock people become aware of their sly enemy that is quietly invading our pasturelands,” Morrison warned.