Needle & Threadgrass

Needle & Threadgrass "bails" after custom field collection in a native southern utah stand.


A Little Bit About Us

Great Basin Seed has a proud heritage in the Intermountain West seed industry. Our family lineage and business heritage are directly linked to the beginnings of reclamation, revegetation and wildlife habitat improvement.


Great Basin Seed
450 South 50 East
Ephraim, UT 84627

Contact Info

435.283.1411 (Office)
435.283.6872 (Fax)

Western Wheatgrass (Pascopyrun smithii)

Western Wheatgrass (previously known as Agropyron smithii) is an important native range grass throughout West. Used for hay, pasture, erosion control. Moderately palatable. Western wheatgrass is perhaps one of the best known and most commonly used native grasses. It is a long lived, cool season species that has coarse blue-green leaves with prominent veins. Because of this bluish appearance it has sometimes been called “Bluestem Wheatgrass” or “Bluejoint”. It is a sod former with very strong, spreading rhizomes. Stems arise singly or in clusters of a few and reach heights of 1 to 3 feet.

Western wheatgrass is an excellent erosion control plant because of its spreading rhizomes. It is widely used in seed mixtures for range seeding, revegetation of saline and alkaline areas, and in critical areas for erosion control in the central and northern Great Plains region. It is frequently used in the northern Great Plains for surface mine revegetation. Because of its strong rhizomes and adaptation to a variety of soils, it performs well as part of a reclamation mixture.

Forage quality is high for pasture or range seedings. Western wheatgrass is adapted to fine and very fine soils and is replaced by thickspike wheatgrass on coarser soils. Although it is able to grow on a wide variety of soils it prefers the heavier but well drained soils. It requires moderate to high soil moisture content and is most common in the 10 to 14 inch annual precipitation zones. Above 20 inches per year it behaves as an increaser on rangelands, below 20 inches it is a decreaser. Its elevational range is 1,000 to 9,000 feet. Western wheatgrass tolerates saline and saline-sodic soils, poor drainage and moderately severe drought. It will tolerate spring flooding, high water tables, and considerable silt deposition. It is very cold hardy and can grow in partial shade. It is grazing resistant and can survive fires if in the dormant stage; recovery from fire, however, is slow. Western wheatgrass grows in association with many species, the more common being blue grama, buffalograss, needlegrasses, bluebunch wheatgrass, rough fescue, Idaho fescue, and prairie junegrass. It begins growth about 2 to 3 weeks before blue grama and does not mature until much later in the growing season.

Western wheatgrass performs poorly in the East and is not recommended for any use in the region. It is distributed throughout the west and midwest portions of the United States.

This species should be seeded in early spring, late fall or in the period of late summer, early fall. It can be sodded. Seedling vigor is fair and stands may be slow to establish. It has stronger rooting abilities than does thickspike wheatgrass but spreads more slowly and may take several years to become firmly established. Once established, it is very hardy and enduring. It is moderately compatible with other species and is moderately aggressive.

Western wheatgrass greens up in March or early April and matures in August. If moisture is adequate, it will make fair summer or fall regrowth. If nitrogen is applied it will compete with warm season grasses. Western wheatgrass is moderately palatable to elk and cattle all year although this quality diminishes in late summer. It is palatable to deer only in spring. It is preferred by cattle more than by sheep. It can be grazed if 50 to 60 percent of the annual growth is allowed to remain (3 or 4 inch stubble). Rest rotation of western wheatgrass is advised. In areas where it is dense, it makes an excellent hay as well as pasture. Irrigation will improve western wheatgrass stands and aid establishment. Weed control and fertilization will also help. Pitting, chiseling, disking, and interseeding can be used to stimulate stands of western wheatgrass. Pests and Potential Problems The primary pests to western wheatgrass are grasshoppers, ergot, and stem and leaf rusts.

Western Wheatgrass Cultivars:

“Ariba” Western Wheatgrass was released for dry land hay production, grazing, and conservation seedings in the western part of the Central Plains and in the southwestern United States.

“Barton” is a strongly rhizomatous, leafy ecotype, intermediate in growth between northern and southern types.

“Rosana” is a northern type western wheatgrass. Plants are blue-green, leafy, with moderately fine stems. Rhizomes produce a tight sod. Rosana is recommended for reseeding depleted range lands and the reclamation of disturbed lands in the Northern Great Plains.

This product has a minimum order quantity of 5 pounds.

***click the “Additional Information” tab for more seed facts.


Common Name:

Western Wheatgrass

Scientific Name:

Old Scientific Name:

Plant Type:

Native or Introduced:

Plant Lifespan:

Sowing Rate

8-16 PLS lbs. per Acre

Seed Count


Root Form

Sod, Rhizominous

Min. Precipitation

10 Inches Minimum

Growth Height:

Max Sowing Depth:

Best Time to Sow:

Growth Season:

Sun & Shade Tolerance:

Full Sun, Shade Intolerant

Elevation of Occurance:

pH Tolerance:


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