Forage Identification: Orchardgrass

Department of Plant Sciences

Orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.)

Perennial cool season bunchgrass.  Orchardgrass has its origin in Eurasia and needs at least 18 inches of precipitation. Orchardgrass performs well on different textured soils ranging from clay to gravely loams and on shallow to deep soils. It does not grow well in saline soils and areas with high water tables. This grass has little drought tolerance and little winter hardiness. It does have good heat and shade tolerance. It can be planted in soils with a pH between 5.5 and 8.2. Very compatible with legumes.


Orchard grass

Growth Habitat:
Cool season, perennial bunch growth habitat. It has slow establishment into a mature sod due to the development of a more extensive root system.


Plant Characteristics:
This is a tall bunch type grass. It has a papery membrane where the leaf attaches to the main stem that tears as a plant heads out. Leaf blades are flat, have a smooth surface and rough edges, and are folded in a whorl. The leaf sheath is flat and usually smooth. Leaf collar is broad and divided. Stems grow upright and are smooth. The stem base is flattened and cross section of the leaf blade is V shaped. Grows between 24 and 48 inches tall.


Seed Characteristics:
Light tan color. Keel shaped, lemma pointed and twisted. The best time to seed is March 1st through May 1st or August 1st through September 1st.

Orchardgrass seeds

Important Identifying Characteristics: 
Spikelets in close cluster looks somewhat like a rabbits foot. Leaf shape V shaped when young and flat when mature.


Orchardgrass Seeds

Primary Uses:
Pasture and hay.

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