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WESTERN RYE GRASS.   91

 

they turn straw-coloured. A spikelet generally contains from four to six flowers, each enclosed within two glumes. The outer glume is similar in shape and texture to the sterile glumes at the base of the spikelet. It is generally awnless but sometimes carries a short awn at its top.

 

Geographical distribution: It is indigenous to all Canada, from coast to coast, and to the northern and western parts of the United States. As its name indicates, it is especially common in the west, extending from the dry belts of British Columbia to New Mexico and southern California.

 

Cultural conditions: Western Rye Grass grows naturally in dry soil and thrives best where only a limited amount of water is available. It cannot stand long flooding but responds readily to careful irrigation. It is one of the few grasses that are not checked by a large amount of alkali in the ground. The root being rather deep and very strong, it stands severe drought without injury. It is insusceptible to extreme cold, and, generally speaking, bears unfavourable climatic conditions better than most other fodder grasses.

 

Habits of growth: It is easy to grow and makes a ready start from the seed. If sown in spring, it is well-established in one season and might, if conditions are favourable, head out late in the fall of the same year. It generally gives the heaviest crop the third year, the yield depending to a certain extent on the amount of seed sown.

 

Agricultural value: It is no doubt the most valuable of the western native hay grasses, and, like most other fodder grasses, includes many different types. Some of them give only a small quantity of poor fodder; others produce much nutritious, succulent hay. As grown at present, Western Rye is a mixture of types and the return is therefore comparatively small. By proper selection and breeding, varieties could be produced which in yield and nutritive value would far surpass the average grass now grown in the Prairie Provinces.

 

Fodder: Western Rye is preferably a hay grass. It should be cut just when it begins to bloom, or even earlier, as it is most palatable and has its greatest nutritive value before flowering. After that it becomes tough, hard and decidedly woody. Only one crop of hay can be taken each year. It has its greatest value as horse feed. It is, however, not as much relished as is the hay from Brome Grass,


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