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Cheatgrass tour planned in Wyoming

Nebraska producers might be interested in a pair of upcoming tours nearby in Wyoming related to weeds and invasive species, according to University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Educator Gary Stone at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center.

A cheatgrass tour, hosted by the Wyoming Cheatgrass Taskforce, is planned for July 31 in Douglas, Wyo. The half-day tour will begin at 8 a.m. with registration and end at noon with lunch, at the Converse County Weed and Pest Control District office.

On July 30, there will be a day-long workshop and tour hosted by the Upper North Platte River Weed Management Area and the Pathway to Water Quality. This tour and workshop will deal with Russian olive and salt cedar removal and management and habitat restoration along the North Platte River at Douglas. Lunch and dinner will be provided.

There are no fees for either workshop or tour. For more information and to attend either tour or workshop, RSVPs are required by July 10 to Converse County Weed and Pest Control District at 307-358-2775, with the number attending for the meal count.

Cheatgrass/downy brome, Bromus tectorum L., a winter-annual grass, is an introduced invasive plant that populates disturbed or overgrazed sites. After wildfires, it usually is one of the first plants to appear. It can populate the burn areas quickly retard native species from normal growth by exploiting the water and nutrients earlier in the growing season.

Cheatgrass is palatable to livestock early in its growth cycle. It can be considered poor grazing forage at best. Once the cheatgrass has cured out, it becomes a fire hazard and burns readily.

Stone says he has observed more cheatgrass this spring in the rangeland and pastures of the Panhandle and eastern Wyoming. He said several factors are potentially contributing, including drought, overgrazing, and stress on the native grass species. In some areas, native grasses are not visible, only cheatgrass.

The cheatgrass extends from the roadsides through the pastures, up into the canyons on the Wildcat Hills and Pine Ridge. Stone said this will pose a huge wildfire threat as the summer progresses and weather becomes drier and hotter.

Brian Mealor, University of Wyoming Extension weed specialist, and Cheryl Schwartzkopf, Converse County weed and pest supervisor, will be the speakers and tour guides. Topics will include chemical treatment options, chemical plots and field scale/real-life treatments. Biological/bacteria management using Pseudomonas fluorescens D7 bacteria, being developed by Anne C. Kennedy, will also be discussed.

Date: 7/15/2013


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