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Brome grass (Bromus spp.)
The most common species of brome grass in southern Australia are Bromus diandrus and B. rigidus (both short- and long-awned varieties).
Mature brome grass plant. Photo Sheldon Navie
- B. diandrus is commonly called great brome but may also be known as ripgut brome, ripgut grass, giant brome, slands grass, jabbers, Kingston grass and brome grass.
- B. rigidus is known as rigid brome or sometimes ripgut brome, ripgut grass, brome grass and also great brome (which causes confusion between the two species).
- Both species have erect seedlings with dull, hairy leaves that display red–purple stripes following the leaf veins.
- Brome grass is one of the most competitive grass weeds in wheat. It shows drought tolerance, better tolerance of phosphorus deficiency and better responsiveness to nitrogen than wheat. For this reason, addition of nitrogen to a crop can aggravate a brome grass problem.
- Seed production can range from 600 to more than 3,000 seeds/plant. The ability to shed a large proportion of seed before crop harvest is another important characteristic that makes brome grass a major weed.
- In cropping situations brome grass contaminates grain. In pastures the seeds contaminate wool, damage hides and meat and cause injury to livestock by entering the eyes, mouth, feet and intestines.
- Left uncontrolled in fallow or pasture phases, brome grasses will host and carry over cereal diseases to new crops.
- Brome grass germinates quickly after the autumn break, causing significant problems of reduced tillering in cereals sown at low densities in low rainfall areas. Seedlings can emerge from seeds buried up to 150 mm deep but their establishment rate is reduced. The best depth for germination and emergence is 10 mm.A high proportion of dormant seeds survive hot, dry summers. Seed viability is lost within a year or two if exposed to a humid environment.
Brome grass seedling Photo: Di Holding