Meadow Brome (Biebersteinii)

Leaves are not retained year to year.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Grazing/Hayland: The primary use of meadow brome is for forage production. It is used for pasture, hay and haylage. It is highly palatable to all classes of livestock and wildlife. Meadow brome is one of the best forage grasses for use in the Northwestern states under intensive rotational grazing systems.

Erosion control: Because of its dense network of roots, meadow brome provides good erosion control on those soils to which it is adapted. Rhizomes of meadow brome are much shorter than those of smooth brome. Because of this, smooth brome is commonly a better choice for erosion control plantings.

Wildlife: Meadow brome is used in grass-legume mixes for nesting, broad rearing, escape and winter cover in upland wildlife and conservation plantings. It is excellent forage for big game animals and waterfowl, particularly geese.

Cultivation and Care

A clean, firm, weed-free seedbed is recommended. Dry land and erosion control seedings should be made in the late fall or very early spring when soil moisture is not limited. Irrigated seedings should be made in early to mid spring. On dryland, do not seed later than May 15th or a failure may occur because of drought and hot summer conditions before the grass is well established. A deep furrow or double disc drill with press wheels may be used. Meadow brome does not flow uniformly through a drill unless it is diluted with rice hulls or other dilutent. For dryland and irrigated land a seeding rate of 10 pounds Pure Live Seed (PLS) per acre is recommended (20 seeds per square foot). If broadcast or planted for critical area treatment, double the seeding rate to 20 pounds PLS per acre or 40 seeds PLS per square foot. Meadow brome is very compatible with legumes such as alfalfa, cicer milkvetch, birdsfoot trefoil, sainfoin, and clover species. When planting with legumes, alternate row planting is recommended due to differences in seedling vigor. Use 6 to 8 pounds PLS of meadow brome seed per acre when planting in alternate rows with a legume. Adjustments in seeding rate should be made when seeding in mixtures. Seeding depth should be 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

When seeding for seed increase, seed should be treated with a fungicide (most seed company's can treat seed) to reduce potential head smut problems common in bromes. Irrigated seed production plantings should be in at least 24-inch rows and preferably 36-inch rows. Seed at 4.5 to 5 pounds per acre. Dryland seed yields are commonly 150 to 200 pounds Pure Live Seed per acre and irrigated seed yields are commonly 450 to 600 pounds Pure Live Seed per acre. Seed matures fairly evenly and is ready for harvest in mid-July to early August. The preferred method of harvest is to windrow crop in the firm dough stage and then combine in about 7 days once seed has matured in windrow. Direct combining is also acceptable, but the seed crop must be monitored closely and harvested when seed is mature and before seed shatter occurs. The seed should be dried to 12 percent moisture in bins and 15 percent moisture in sacks before storing.

‘Regar’ meadow brome seed production fields are only productive for about two to three seed crops and seed production beyond 2 to three years are normally not economical. Proper row culture (tillage) and ripping may help to extend the stands productive life. ‘Fleet’, ‘Paddock’, ‘Montana’, and ‘MacBeth’ releases were selected for a longer seed production life and higher seed production the third production year compared to ‘Regar’.

General Upkeep and Control

BRCA5"Although fair control of California brome by trifluralin and pronomaide has been documented, it does not respond to most herbicides.

It is reduced by heavy grazing and favored in moderate to light grazing. Sheep are more likely to kill plants by trampling them rather than overgrazing. Cattle are more likely to overgraze than trample the plants.

California brome is top-killed by fire, but appears to recover within a few years. It can sprout from surviving root crowns as early as the next growing season. Coverage of California brome is slightly reduced from pre-fire levels for several years after fire, then returns to pre-fire levels. It is sometimes seeded in after fire to help stabilize soil.

Pests and Potential Problems California brome is sometimes prone to stem rust, head smut, leaf rust, and leaf spot.

Seeds and Plant Production Seeds are collected between May 1 and September 10, depending on rate of maturation. Mature inflorescences turn from green-purple to brown and mature seeds are light brown-gray. Cleaning is not required for germination. Seeds should be stored in a dry, refrigerated area.

Seeds are surface sown, 3 seeds per container, and planted 2 times the diameter of seed to depth. Sixty-five percent germination will occur within 30 days and seedlings are transplanted into individual containers.

Other sources state that 85% germination will occur in 13 days at 30oC, 83% in 13 days between 19o and 23oC, and 46% in 21 days at 14oC. Natural seed stock will have higher germination rates than commercial stock. "

Plant Basics
General Type Graminoid, Forb/herb
Plant Nativity Cultivated, or not in the U.S.
Physical Characteristics
Displays Fall Colors No
Flower Conspicuousness No
Gardening Characteristics
Cold Stratification Required No
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 0–0 pH
Precipitation Range 0–0 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Minimum Frost-Free Days 0 day(s)
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Fire Resistant No

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