Next year’s cheatgrass is growing rapidly right now

It seems that this year produced a growing agreement on most sides of the issue that cheatgrass is just plain awful and is responsible in part for the range fires, small and large, that swept Idaho, Utah and Nevada beginning in late May.

Some ranchers and too many politicians have pushed, and are still pushing the notion that putting in cows early to eat the cheatgrass while it is still green and lacks the sharp seed heads, is much of the solution.

I took the photo below on Oct. 20 on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in SE Idaho, but it could have been taken anywhere in perhaps a hundred million acres of the Western United States.

cheatgrass-fall-grow-sm.jpg
Dry and new green cheatgrass near Pauline, Idaho. Oct. 20,2007. Copyright © Ralph Maughan

As you can see, this pure stand of cheatgrass did not burn, but green cheatgrass from the seeds dropped in June and July are already sprouted and growing rapidly. They will continue to grow for a few more weeks, lie semi-dormant during the winter, and begin to grow rapidly again about March 1. After mid-April, it will be difficult for cattle to eat it because the sharp seeds form. Read the rest of this entry »