Field Brome (Arvensis)

The Field Brome (Arvensis) is generally described as an annual graminoid. This is not native to the U.S. (United States) and has its most active growth period in the fall and winter and spring . Leaves are not retained year to year. The Field Brome (Arvensis) has a short life span relative to most other plant species and a rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical Field Brome (Arvensis) will reach up to 3 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Field Brome (Arvensis) is not commonly available from nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed. It has a rapid ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have high vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -23°F. has low tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Field brome is used primarily as a winter cover crop on vegetable lands and in orchards in the Northeast. Due to its heavy root growth and low, dense top growth, it gives good protection against wind and water erosion. The heavy root growth makes it a useful green manure crop. When used as a cover plant, it provides good pasturage for Canada geese, especially in the spring.

General Characteristics

Field brome is a winter annual. It produces dense, low leafy growth in the fall. Spring growth starts earlier than most other annual grasses used for cover crops. It does not have creeping stolons or rhizomes, but tillers profusely. It produces seedheads in late spring or early summer. Seed stalks are 2 to 3 feet tall. The principal characteristics that make it an outstanding cover crop are the extensive fiberous root system and the relatively short top growth. It is winter hardy in northeast and north central regions. It grows vigorously under high fertility and often smothers other grasses or weeds. It is an excellent seed producer and can maintain itself as a reseeding annual. There are 250,000 seeds per pound

Required Growing Conditions

Field brome does best on medium textured soils that are moderately well-drained to well-drained. It has done well in lowlands subject to flooding and on sloping, gravelly soils. The most suitable pH range is between 6.0 and 7.0.

Field brome can be found throughout the United States.

Cultivation and Care

The best seeding date for field brome is mid-August in the North to early September in the South. When used as a cover crop in cropland, field brome is usually seeded at the time of the last cultivation. Field brome should be seeded for orchard cover on a firm seedbed. Seeding rate is 10 pounds per acre. Rolling, cultipacking, or cultivating after broadcast seeding is essential for a uniform stand. Field brome is a heavy user of nitrogen and best growth is produced when nitrogen is available. The light, fluffy seed of field brome may cause some planting difficulties. The seed is best applied using a power driven cyclone type seeder with an agitator. A cultipacker seeder or a grain drill with a positive type feed may be used for planting.

General Upkeep and Control

Nitrogen application is not essential for cover crop use, but supplemental nitrogen may be added to increase growth and to speed up breakdown of the heavy sod after plowing. Without adequate nitrogen the succeeding crop, particularly vegetables, may show nitrogen deficiency. This grass can be heavily grazed in late fall and again in the spring for 6 to 8 weeks.

When managed as a reseeding annual in orchards, the stand should be disked in the spring before seedheads are produced, leaving only 10 percent of the stand to produce seed. This will provide ample seed to re-establish the stand the following fall. After seed maturity, the entire stand can be disked under.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) 'Svalof's Sleipner' is the only released variety of field bromegrass. Most seed produced in this country can be traced to this variety.

Control Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Rapid
General Type Graminoid
Growth Period Fall, Winter, Spring
Growth Duration Annual
Lifespan Short
Plant Nativity Introduced to U.S.
Commercial Availability No Known Source
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Mid Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Bunch
Drought Tolerance Low
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 3
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Seed Spread Rate Rapid
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -23
Soil Depth for Roots 12
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate None
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5.2–7.5 pH
Precipitation Range 26–26 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 12
Minimum Frost-Free Days 120 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance Low
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Medium
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA