Letterman’s Needlegrass


Letterman’s needlegrass is a native, densely tufted, cool season, perennial bunch grass found at the middle elevations up to the sub-alpine zone and requires approximately 16 inches of precipitation or more.  As the ‘needle’ in its name implies, this grass has a long, rather irregular shaped awn that discourages grazing after it reaches maturity.  It grows on a wide range of soils, but does best on medium loamy soils. It is a common forage for both wildlife and livestock when it is young, but it does not have a high protein content.  Letterman’s needlegrass provides some cover for small birds and mammals. On Utah ranges, Letterman’s needlegrass tends to increase in response to heavy grazing by domestic sheep. It apparently decreases in response to light cattle and horse grazing. In the absence of grazing, Letterman’s needlegrass competes poorly with such species as Kentucky bluegrass and Thurber fescue.  Letterman’s needlegrass is typically used in specialized reclamation and restoration projects. It typically takes 3 to 4 weeks to germinate when conditions are right.




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