Field tour offered for invasive grass that impacts pasture
July 6, 2023
Crook County Weed & Pest invites the public to find out more about an invasive grass that has been found growing within county borders and is known to be capable of negatively impacting pasture and rangelands.
A ventenata field tour will take place on July 18 near Rozet and the district is hoping to attract as many participants as possible to learn more about the grass and how to combat its spread.
“This would be a great time to ask specialist questions,” says Alycia Conroy-Davis, District Supervisor.
Ventenata is not native to North America, but has become invasive particularly in the Pacific Northwest. It is a fine grass that grows to around 18 inches tall; each plant can produce up to 35 seeds and is typically visible to the eye between the months of June and August.
Ventenata was first documented in the Great Plains region in Sheridan County in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
It grows in a variety of dry, open and often disturbed areas and along roadsides and tends to prefer seasonally wet sites. Ventenata invasion can increase fuel loads and impact native plants, reducing species diversity and richness.
According to the USDA, invasions of the grass have caused economic losses in the Northwest because contamination lowers the value of hay and can reduce yields by as much as 75% within a few years. The plant can also reduce habitat and forage for wildlife and forage for livestock.
According to Weed & Pest, some managers consider ventenata to be worse than cheatgrass and have actually observed it replacing cheatgrass. It has a high silica content and often less biomass, which again results in a loss of forage.
Ventenata has been observed and treated on the north side of the county on Highway 112, south of Little Missouri River Road, and also east of Thorn Divide.
To participate in the field tour, meet at the Rozet Elementary School parking lot (14054 Wy-51) at 8:30 a.m. on July 18 to travel as a convoy to the field site. The tour will finish at noon.
Topics to be covered include identification, ecology, treatment options and considerations and a program update from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Meanwhile if you think you may have ventenata growing on your property, Conroy-Davis recommends calling Weed & Pest to get a proper identification and get it treated as soon as possible.