Livestock: Smooth Brome may be used for hay, pasture, silage or stockpiling. It is compatible with alfalfa or other adapted legumes. The grass is highly palatable and is high in protein content and relatively low in crude-fiber content.
Since the plant has a massive root system and is a sod former, it can be used effectively for critical area planting and waterways if the areas can be irrigated or where annual precipitation exceeds 20 inches.
Bromus inermis Leyss., smooth brome, is a leafy, sod-forming, perennial, cool season grass that spreads by rhizomes. The stems vary in height from 2 to 4 feet. The plant produces numerous basal and stem leaves that vary in length from 4 to 10 inches. Frequently, the leaves are marked by a transverse wrinkle resembling a “W” a short distance below the tip. The flower head develops a characteristic rich purplish brown color when mature. The seed is produced in semi-compact 5 inch long panicles with ascending branches. The flat compressed seed is usually awnless, about 1/3 inches long, and smooth. There are approximately 135,000 seeds/ pound. Smooth brome is the most widely used of the cultivated bromegrasses and has been cultivated in the U.S. since the early 1880s.
Adaptation and Distribution
Smooth Brome is best adapted to cooler climates and is generally hardier than Tall Fescue or orchardgrass. It is resistant to drought and extremes in temperature. Smooth Brome is susceptible to disease in areas of high humidity. Smooth Brome grows best on slightly acidic to slightly alkaline well-drained clay loam soils with high fertility but it will also grow well on lighter textured soils where adequate moisture and fertility are maintained. Smooth Brome performs best in a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. Stands are difficult to obtain and growth is poor on soils high in soluble salts.
A clean firm seedbed is needed. Due to the slow germination and establishment of smooth brome, spring seedings are especially preferred in the northern states. In southern areas, late summer seedings are a second option. Fall seedings should be made at least 6 weeks before a killing frost is expected. Seeding rates are typically 3-10 pounds/acre in mixtures, and about 5 to 20 pounds/acre when seeded alone. When Smooth Brome is seeded in a mixture with alfalfa, the alternate row method will give the best results. Seeding depth is approximately ½ inch. If broadcast increase the seeding rate and cultipack after planting.
Smooth Brome requires heavy early spring and fall applications of nitrogen to maintain high yields in a pure stand. Mixtures with Alfalfa will require less nitrogen but the alfalfa will usually need phosphorus each year to maintain vigor. Best forage production is obtained from smooth brome when used in a planned cropping system and plowed out after 3 to 4 years. Its heavy sod makes it an excellent soil conditioning crop when included in cropping systems. In deep, well-drained soils, it will root to 4 feet. Smooth brome performs best in grassed waterways, field borders, and other conservation uses where the forage can be cut and removed while in early bloom. Do not graze the new seeding; cut the first crop for hay. In bromegrass-legume pastures, allow the legume to go to bud or early-bloom stage before turning cattle in to avoid bloat hazard, and manage thereafter for optimum regrowth of the legume. Pastures should not be grazed prior to smooth brome attaining a minimum height of 10 inches at the beginning of the grazing season. Grazing pressures should be adjusted throughout the season to avoid grazing this grass to less than a minimum height of 4 inches.
Meadow bromegrass is an ideal pasture grass because of its high yields, rapid regrowth and excellent season long forage quality. Meadow bromegrass gives high forage yields uniformly throughout the growing season.
For Pasture: Meadow bromegrass begins to grow early in the spring and is ready to graze before most pasture grasses. Meadow bromegrasses can be rotationally grazed throughout the spring and summer and is superior for fall grazing because it grows well under cool conditions. Meadow bromegrass is often used as a dual-purpose forage crop; one cut of hay and then fall pasture. For Hay: Meadow bromegrass is best suited for combined hay and pasture use in areas of higher rainfall. Meadow bromegrass usually yields less than smooth bromegrass under a one or two cut haying system.
Meadow bromegrass is a Canadian variety developed at Agriculture Canada Research Station, Saskatoon, SK. Meadow bromegrass has narrower leaves than smooth bromegrass, and short hairs cover them. Regrowth of the meadow bromegrass is from the base of the leaf after grazing. This means regrowth is much faster than smooth bromegrass, which must grow from tillers. Meadow bromegrass leaves retain their greenness into the fall, and can be grazed until mid October. Meadow bromegrass is a non-creeping grass and unlike smooth bromegrass, it will not crowd out alfalfa or other grasses in the pasture.
Meadow bromegrass is best adapted to black, dark brown and gray wooded soils. Meadow bromegrass adapts well in clay, loam and sandy soils, but cannot withstand long periods of flooding or high salinity levels.