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Leymus (cinereus)

Mark E. Majerus
USDA NRCS - Bridger Plant Materials Center
99 South River Road, Rte. 2, Box 1189
Bridger, Montana 59014-9718
(406) 662-3579
(406) 662-3428 (fax)

Family Scientific Name: Poaceae
Family Common Name: Grass
Scientific Name: Leymus cinereus
Common Name: Basin wildrye
Species Code: LECI4
Ecotype: See "Other Comments:"
General Distribution: Along streams, gullys, and ravines, moist or dry slopes and plains;
Minnesota to British Columbia, south to Colorado, and California.
Propagation Goal: seeds
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Propagules (seeds, cuttings, poles, etc.)
Time To Grow: 0
Target Specifications: Harvest yields vary due to weather and age of stand. Average annual production is 117 kg/ha (104 lbs/ac).
Propagule Collection: Wildland collection occurs mid August to mid September when
caryopsis are brown, at the hard dough stage, and not yet shattering (natural dispersal) from the terminal spike; easily hand-harvested.

One collection hour/person will yield an average 273 grams (9.6 oz) clean seed (ranges 66 to 536 grams and varies by year, stand density, and collector experience).
Propagule Processing: Seed Processing: Seed is spread out on a tarp in a dry, sheltered environment and turned daily for approximately 3-5 days, until no moisture or warmth is detected. After drying, material is processed with a Wintersteiger plot combine at concave 1/4 to 1/2 open, speed 1000 rpm, and medium wind. Seed is threshed with a hammermill through a 8/64" round hole screen, and air-screen processed on a Clipper M2B or Eclipse cleaner over a 9/64" round hole screen. Due to medium-sized seed, absence of awns, fluff, or other seed debris, and good seed flow, this species is moderately easy to clean. Larger seed lots are processed most efficiently with mechanized cleaning equipment and smaller seed lots usually require more hand labor.
Seeds/Kg: 419,000.
Germination: 79%Purity: 100%.
Pre-Planting Treatments: Seed Treatments: None required.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Propagation Environment: Seedbed is firm and free of weeds with good field moisture to 4"

Seed Propagation Method: Direct seeding.
Establishment Phase: Sowing Date: Spring or dormant fall.

Sowing/Planting Technique: 25-30 pure live seed/ft. (0.3 m) row, irrigated 91cm (36 in) row spacing, seeded with 2-row double-disk planter with depth bands, optimum seeding depth 0.6 cm (0.25 in).

Establishment Phase: Soil surface is kept moist throughout the 14 day germination and emergence period (also helps prevent soil crusting); lower rates of Buctryl or bromoxynil are applied at 3-5 leaf stage to control broadleaf weeds.

Fertilizer application is not recommended the first year, as it generally stimulates weed growth and competition.
Length of Establishment Phase: 2 growing seasons.
Active Growth Phase: Rapid Growth Phase: Spring to fall; broadleaf weed control with herbicides must occur prior to boot stage; soil moisture is critical during boot stage, milk stage of seed
development, and post harvest to pre-freezeup - no irrigation is applied during flowering (pollination); fertilizer is broadcast at 100 lbs actual N/40 lbs actual P/acre in mid-September.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 2 to 3 growing seasons.
Hardening Phase: N/A.
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Harvest Date: Cultivated harvest occurs mid to late July, with a mean harvest date of July 25 at the Bridger Plant Materials Center.

A John Deer swather is used to cut stems into windrows for direct combining, or, to minimize seed loss, a temporary"diaper"- a heavy piece of plastic or canvas clipped under belt draper - is attached for direct

Seed Storage: Seed is placed in plastic seed bags and stored in a cool, dry environment.

Seed Dormancy: Classified as physiological dormancy
Length of Storage: <b>Storage Duration:</b> 5 to 7 years.
Other Comments: Ecotype: 2 different Yellowstone National Park accessions periodically collected and produced from 1987-1989 and 1995 to 2000. Ecological zones include big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass, big sagebrush/Idaho fescue, and Idaho fescue/bluebunch wheatgrass. Elevation 1,829 m to 2,012 m (6,000 ft and 6,600 ft).
References: Manual of the Grasses of the United States, A. S. Hitchcock, Second Edition, Two Volumes, Dover Publications, Inc., 1970.

Flora of the Pacific Northwest, C. L. Hitchcock and A. Cronquist, University of Washington Press, 1973.

Montana Interagency Plant Materials Handbook, Montana State University, Extension Service Bulletin EB 69, June 1990.

Yellowstone Vegetation - Consequences of Environment and History in a Natural Setting, Don G. Despain, Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 1990.

Seeds: Ecology, Biogeography, and Evolution of Dormancy and Germination, C. C.
Baskin and J. M. Baskin, Academic Press, 2001.


Winslow, Susan R.. 2002. Propagation protocol for production of Propagules (seeds, cuttings, poles, etc.) Leymus cinereus seeds USDA NRCS - Bridger Plant Materials Center Bridger, Montana. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2020/09/18). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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