Tom's Blog

Monday, September 16, 2013

Good year for Indian grass

The weather has been ideal for growth of Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) and all the prairies and savannas are really lush. This is quite a contrast to last year, when the drought was so bad that we hardly saw any Indian grass.
Lush Indian grass. In the background lush prairie with little bluestem and Indian grass

At the end of last season I wondered whether the lengthy dry spell had killed all the Indian grass.Would it come back this year? We now have the answer. Indian grass (and the other warm season grasses) can survive one year of drought. Although there was little visible Indian grass at the end of last season, the root stocks were still alive and responded readily to good moisture.

This result is quite a contrast to the "dust-bowl" droughts of the 1930s, which went on for four or five years. Then the warm season grasses virtually disappeared.

In addition to the prairies, our savannas are also lush with Indian grass. Wherever the tree canopy is open enough, Indian grass is flourishing.

View across the ridge-top bur oak savanna (Unit 10). Wherever the canopy is open enough, Indian grass is flourishing.


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