Forage Species

Naturalized grasslands contain many plant species all more or less adapted to the local environment. Each species in a pasture or field has a set of environment conditions that it is best adapted to. Environmental conditions include: sunlight intensity and day-length, daily maximum and minimum temperature, rainfall, soil drainage and rooting depth, soil pH and fertility, and defoliation frequency and intensity. Weather and management of the site will determine which plant species dominate the stand in a given year and over time. Knowing the major plant species in a grassland enables the manager to properly manage that grassland for pasture or hay.

The following fact sheets and web links provide an introduction for identifying the major plant species that grow in pastures and hay fields in West Virginia.

Plant Identification

Identification of Grasses by Their Vegetative Characters

100 Native Forage Grasses in Southern States
Many of these native grasses are found in West Virginia.

Culture and Management

Alfalfa Management American Society of Agronomy

Annual Ryegrass Univ. MD

Tall Fescue Management

Annual Lespedezas, Culture and Use.
This is an older USDA bulletin that provides basic information not readily available elsewhere.

Crimson Clover Case Study in West Virginia

Northeast Regional Research Publications

Orchardgrass; Bulletin 557T

Timothy; Bulletin 570T

Smooth Bromegrass; Bulletin 554T

Reed Canarygrass; Bulletin 550T

Life Histories

Life history of quackgrass

Life history of crabgrass

Life history of foxtail

Life history of horse nettle