Blue Stem

(Jamie) Good morning and welcome back to Farm Factor at the KSU Beef Stocker Conference. Let’s join Duane Toews as he and Dr. Walter Fick discuss Old World Blue Stem grasses.
(Duane) For AGam in Kansas I’m Duane Toews joining you from the Kansas State University Beef Stocker Conference, a chance to catch up with Walt Fick, talking about grasses. And it’s got Blue Stem in the name, but obviously Walt, all Blue Stems are not the same. And you talk to the growers and producers here about one in particular that is becoming more of a problem for us. (Walt) Yes, there is a category of plants, we refer to them as Old World Blue Stem. And that includes both Caucasian Blue Stem, which has been around since probably the 1930s. And then the rest of them it’s a different species, we just refer to them as Yellow Old World Blue Stems. But they come from that name as that name implies, came from another part of the world, rather than North America. (Duane) As far as a stocker operator or a cow man in general what kind of an impact is this having in some of our pastures? (Walt) Big problem is the Old World Blue Stems were introduced as a forage crop and planted in solid, seeded stand and you can graze ’em pretty hard and get quite a bit of beef per acre. But the problem has been is that won’t stay inside the fence and so they’ve spread out of those areas or even along the roadsides. I think there’s been a lot of planting in the past along the roadsides, spreads out into our native range. That’s not as palatable as our native grasses and thus it doesn’t get a whole lot of grazing use and is gonna flourish under that situation. So, it gradually is spreading and will take over areas. (Duane) So for a grass manager, what are some of the logical steps to try and reduce the incidence? (Walt) Well I think it depends on how dense the stand is. In some cases, if it’s a large enough area, I might be tempted to fence it off and stock it real heavy, try to use it. They will graze it if they don’t have a lot of choice. But if it’s scattered around in a pasture, I think we really don’t have any good management options for us. Fire is not going to help us. So, we’ve been looking at some herbicides, things like Roundup, the glyphosate products will kill the Old World Blue Stems. The problem is they also affect most everything else that might be actually growing at the time. Another product that also is labeled for range and pasture, that is a product, I’ll use the trade name, is called Arsenal. And at a high rate, that’s a bare ground treatment as well. But at the rates we’re using we’re looking at quarter to half pound range. And it seems to be more selective. We’re getting good reduction on the Old World Blue Stems without damaging all of the natives. A lot of our native grasses are surviving that Arsenal treatment, so that looks promising. (Duane) Our thanks to Walt Fick, joining us here at the Beef Stocker Conference at Kansas State University.
(Jamie) Thanks, Duane! Folks, stay with us as Duane catches up next with Jon Mollhagen, owner of Moly Manufacturing.

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