Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis) is a major warm season grass found throughout the western United States and Great Plains. It is fairly short, reaching an average of 10 to 20 inches. It grows in definite bunches and reproduces by tillering and by seed. Blue Grama grows as a bunchgrass in southern states but in northern states or areas of heavy grazing pressure it is a sod former. Blue grama can be found growing in association with buffalograss, western wheatgrass, needlegrasses and in some areas the bluegrasses.
Blue grama demonstrates good drought tolerance. It has fair salinity tolerance and moderate alkalinity tolerances. In its dormant state, it will also tolerate burning. It will not tolerate dense shade, flooding, a high water table, or acid soils.
Blue grama is suitable for mixtures of grasses used in erosion control, low maintenance turf plantings, and surface mine revegetation. Establish as with all native grasses. Proper ground preparation is one of the most important considerations. The seedbed should be firm but not solid; cultivation to kill the roots of cool-season grasses is essential. Planting may be done by either drilling or broadcasting, with the seed being sown no more than 1/4 to 1/2 inches deep at a rate of 1 to 3 pounds PLS/acre. Seeding in late spring is recommended in the Great Plains; earlier seeding is recommended in areas further south. In the Southwest, seeding should be done during the period from June 15 to July 15.
Blue grama will tolerate low-nutrient soils better than acidic conditions. In western areas plant blue grama in a sorghum cover crop, stubble, or in with the crop itself.
Once the grass is established, it is very palatable to livestock all year long. Since growing points are at or near the ground surface, the grass withstands fairly close grazing. For best yields, defer grazing during the growing season every 2 to 3 years. Blue grama cures well on stem, making it a good grass for grazing during the dormant season.
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