Warm Season Grass for Wildlife Habitat

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Warm Season Grasses and Wildlife

In case you’re not up on what NWSG (native warm season grass) is and why it is important, here is some relevant information for you.

As the name implies, these grasses are native to North America and they grow in the warm season of June, July and August.

They are a bunch type grass, which means one plant will send up multiple stems together in a clump as opposed to turf grasses that try to make a continuous mat.

The common species are Bluestem, Switchgrass and Indiangrass. Within these main species are some other cultivars – too numerous to mention here.

Switchgrass and Sudangrass Plantings Funded by NRCS

The easiest to work with is Swithgrass, since it will grow on some poor sites and it is not a fluffy seed so it will go through my Brillion seeder with any other small seeds I want to mix with it.

The significance of NWSG to wildlife are the characteristics of being tall bunchgrass that will stand up through the winter. Planted correctly, these grasses provide cover for small mammals, nesting for certain types of birds (which are in decline in America) and game birds and bedding/security cover for deer.

Though the seed is expensive and the plants are difficult to establish, once they are established, they will last for many years with little maintenance. They grow to a height of 5 to 7 feet and send a root system down the same depth. So, you can imagine the benefits to soil health and erosion prevention. That is why NRCS is pro – grass and will help out with the planting with funds from various programs. See my article on sources of government funding in this website.

We can use grass to provide bedding cover and security cover. A large field planted in NWSG will be used by deer to bed and to hide fawns. In smaller plantings, it can be used for security cover around small food plots and travel corridors so deer will feel comfortable using them in daylight hours.

If you would like to plant NWSG on your property as part of your overall habitat strategy, we can take care of it for you, including obtaining funding for the project.

Give me a call anytime to discuss your situation.

About the Author:

Wildlife habitat manager and consulting forester from Central PA. Studied environmental Agriculture specializing in wildlife management and Forestry. B.S. Agriculture, Masters degree in Forestry. 30 years experience in land investment, forestry and wildlife habitat improvement. Currently working as a Farm Bill Forester for Pheasants Forever on Game Commission and Golden Winged Warbler Initiative.