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30 Years of KR Bluestem (Bothriochloa ischaemum var. songarica) on thin soil

by Bob Harms ()

Grass starting to come back in 1977.

Perhaps the most dramatic illustration of the rise and decline of KR bluestem (KR) was on the upper ridge grassland at the road bend. Once the fence was finished in 1977, KR soon came into dominence. In the 1977 and 1979 photos, the straw-colored grass is KR, in 1977 especially near the fence (in the back), but more widespread in 1979.

The road bend in 1979.

By the early 1980s KR came to dominate in most areas of our land.

KR peaking in 1981.

But by 2000 it had all but disappeared in areas with shallow soil, as in the field along the road bend, which in 2007 has no dominant grass. The first photo below illustrates our selective removal of small Ashe junipers to provide privacy from the roadside. The roadside itself, regularly mown by Hays County for wildfire control, has virtually no KR. The second photo is from just inside the junipers to show the full field.

The same fence area in 2007, with Ashe juniper 'privacy fence' along the road.

In 2007 grasses in this field include, in order of frequency,

KR is essentially gone from the field inside the fence.