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(bromegrass), a genus of annual or perennial (less frequently biennial) plants of the family Gramineae. The inflorescence is a panicle, formed of large (up to 3 cm or larger), many-flowered, flattened spikelets. The leaf sheathes are closed along most of their length. There are more than 100 known species, distributed in the temperate latitudes of both hemispheres. There are 44 species in the USSR, of which 21 are perennials. Bromegrass is found from the tundra to the desert and on plains and in mountains at the boundaries of various altitude belts in the south and in meadows, forests, steppes, and deserts. It also grows as a weed among agricultural crops. The genus includes many valuable fodder plants. In meadows and steppes the perennial species are most important.
Awnless bromegrass (Bromus inermis), a perennial grass that has long rootstocks and measures up to 150 cm tall, is widely distributed in the USSR and other countries. It is particularly valuable as a fodder grass. It forms many leafy vegetative shoots. Awnless bromegrass is used in grass mixtures to make hayfields and pastures; these mixtures are also sown in drained swamps and in soil endangered by wind erosion. The leaves of awnless bromegrass are broad and somewhat rough, and the inflorescence is a large, branched panicle. The flowers have orange anthers. The seeds measure 8–12 mm long. Awnless bromegrass is cold- and drought-resistant; it can also withstand prolonged submersion under floodwater and subsequent covering with silt. This species, which forms almost pure thickets, grows best in loose soils. It has a large number of forms that are classified according to biological and economic traits into two types: northern, or meadow, awnless bromegrass, which is found in moist regions, and southern, or steppe, awnless bromegrass, which is distributed in the southern and southeastern regions. The latter has stiffer leaves and inferior yield and fodder qualities. The northern variety yields 50–60 centners of hay per hectare, the southern variety, only 30–35 centners. All types of livestock like to graze on awnless bromegrass and eat it as hay; it grows back quickly after mowing or grazing. This species responds well to fertilizers, especially those rich in nitrogen. The plant reaches its full development in the second or third season; it grows for as long as ten years.
The species B. riparius, a perennial with short creeping root-stocks that measures up to 95 cm tall, is also cultivated in the USSR. It grows wild in many parts of the steppe and foreststeppe zones. When cultivated it produces a high yield of hay; its fodder quality is similar to that of awnless bromegrass. It is suitable for use as ground cover on slopes and can be sown in exhausted pastures. B. variegatus, another perennial bromegrass that is suitable for cultivation, is widely distributed in the subal-pine and alpine meadows of the Caucasus and Transcaucasia. The wild perennial bromegrass B. sibiricus can also be cultivated; it is found in the meadows of the Urals and Siberia. In desert and partly steppe regions annual bromegrasses, such as downy, or drooping, brome (B. tectorum) provide valuable pasture fodder. Some annual species, however, cause damage to the sheep-breeding industry because the awned fruits become entangled in the animals’ fur. Field brome (B. arvensis) and particularly cheat (B. secalinus) are pernicious weeds that choke winter grains, such as rye and wheat, when poor agricultural techniques are employed. Measures taken against these weeds include cleaning the seeds and careful observance of agricultural techniques.
REFERENCESKormovye rasteniia senokosov i pastbishch SSSR. Edited by I. V. Larin. Vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Andreev, N. G. Koster bezostyi. 2nd ed. Moscow, 1960.
N. S. KONIUSHKOV