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Forage Identification and Use Guide

Big Bluestem

Andropogon gerardii

Big bluestem is a tall, leafy, warm-season grass with fine hairs where the leaf joins the stem.

Tall-growing, native perennial, warm-season bunchgrass. Deep-rooted grass that sometimes has rhizomes. More drought tolerant than most warm-season perennial grasses. Grows 3 to 7 feet tall.

Wildlife, pasture, hay.

Desirable for wildlife. Good summer production that complements cool-season forage growth. Palatable over a wider range of maturities than switchgrass. Efficient user of fertilizer nitrogen.

Slow and expensive to establish. Will not tolerate close, continuous grazing. Short growing season. Seed is light and requires planters that can handle fluffy seed.

Rate: 6-10 lb/a pure live seed (PLS)*
Depth: ¼-½ in
Date: Apr 15-Jun 1

First harvest: Jun 15-Jul 15
Annual yield: 2-4 tons dry matter/a

*Pure live seed, or PLS, is equal to the percent germination multiplied by percent purity, both expressed as decimals. For example, a big bluestem seedlot that is 70% pure seed and 50% germination would be 35% pure live seed.

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