Broomstraw is beloved by wild birds but loathed by farmers. Broomstraw, known scientifically as Andropogon virginicus, shows up, welcome or not, in open fields and roadways through much of North America. Horticulturist Ruth Ann Grissom calls such fields "early successional habitat," noting that they are ideal for wildlife. Also known as broomsedge and beard grass, broomstraw is low in nutrients and is thus considered a nuisance in fields used for livestock forage. Auburn University agronomists Don Ball and John Everest recommend successive soil treatments and competitive plantings. Start the process in early spring.
Things You'll Need
- soil testing kit
- lime soil amendment
- manure or commercial nitrogen fertilizer
- broadcast spreader or tractor-pulled spreader
- grass seed
Test your soil. Broomstraw thrives in low-pH and low-fertility soil, according to Auburn's Bell and Everest and Oklahoma State Extension educator Brian Pugh.
Add lime to your field, in concentrations according to the result of your soil test. Use a broadcast spreader to ensure even treatment, or use a tractor-pulled spread in a large field.
Spread manure on your field. Alternatively, you can spread a commercial fertilizer that is high in nitrogen.
Mow the field, setting the blades high, because broomstraw is a taller grass. Alternatively, let animals graze to eat the broomstraw.
Seed the field with a desirable forage grass, such as fescue, in a cultivar that is best suited to your area.
Repeat the soil amendment and mowing every season.
Monitor the new forage grass growth and reseed or patch-sow new seed as needed.
Tips & Warnings
- If you have a large area or a severe broomstraw infestation, consult your local Extension Office to conduct soil tests professionally.
- The specific type of forage grass that is ideal for your climate and soil conditions varies by region. Consult your Extension Office.
- UNC Charlotte Urban Institute; Briars, Weeds and Broomstraw: Lessons in Habitat Restoration; Ruth Ann Grissom; November 12, 2010
- Auburn University Cooperative Extension Service; Suppression of Broomsedge in Pastures; Don Ball and John Everest
- Oklahoma State University Haskell County Extension Service; Broomsedge Bluestem is an Opportunistic Plant; Brian Pugh; April 12, 2005
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Plant Fact Sheet: Broomsedge Bluestem Andropogon Virginicus L.; Melinda Brakie; September 22, 2009