New Grass on Menu for Western Cattle and
July 28, 1999
Cattle and wildlife on western
rangelands may soon be grazing on CD-II, a rugged and leafy crested wheatgrass
from plant breeders at the Agricultural Research Service,
USDA's chief research agency.
The six companies licensed to produce CD-II seed are moving to make larger
quantities of the grass widely available.
CD-II tolerates drought, insects and diseases. One visible sign of its
tolerance: it produces few purple leaves in cool spring or fall weather. In
crested wheatgrass, purple leaves are a symptom of stress and reduced growth,
according to plant geneticist Kay H. Asay of the ARS
Forage and Range Research
Laboratory in Logan, Utah. He led the CD-II research, working with ARS and
Utah State University colleagues.
CD-II adapts well to rangelands of the Intermountain region and northern
Great Plains that get about 10 to 16 inches of precipitation a year. It is
suitable for planting at elevations up to 6,000 feet. It needs to be planted in
combination with other grasses, not only to keep ecosystems diverse, but also
to provide alternate forage in mid-summer when CD-II becomes dormant.
ARS--in collaboration with Utah State
University--offered initial supplies of CD-II seed to plant breeders in 1996,
after more than a decade of plant breeding and testing.
Two of the six companies licensed to sell CD-II--Round Butte Seed Growers,
Inc., Culver, Ore., and Wheatland Seed, Inc., Brigham City, Utah--sold CD-II
for the first time in 1998.
Three of the companies plan to market CD-II this year: Big Sky Wholesale
Seeds, Inc., Shelby, Mont.; Rainier
Seeds, Inc., Port Orchard, Wash.; and
Newfield Seeds Company, Ltd.,
Nipawin, Saskatchewan, Canada. Grassland West Company, Clarkston, Wash., will
sell CD-II next year.
An article in the July issue of the ARS monthly journal, Agricultural Research, tells
more. The article is also on the web at:
Scientific contact: Kay
H. Asay, ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory, 695 North 1100 East,
Logan, UT 84322-6300, phone (435) 797-3069, fax (435) 797-3075,