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Sand Lovegrass

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Sand Lovegrass

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Sand Lovegrass, Eragrostis trichodes is a native, warm-season, short-lived, perennial, bunch grass found on sandy soil sites in the central and southern plains states. Grows principally on deep sands and sandy loam soils on sandy prairies and open sandy woods. 


This tall, leafy grass has been reported to grow in ten central Great Plains states from Colorado to Illinois and south to Texas. It grows best on sandy soils in the 45 to 90 cm rainfall areas. It is sometimes found growing on heavier type soils. It is best adapted to growth on north and east facing slopes. Sand lovegrass has a shallow, widely spreading root system. It will show decrease in stand numbers under intense grazing pressure. 


Sand lovegrass is a native, warm-season, perennial bunch grass that is palatable and preferred by grazing livestock in the central and southern Great Plains. It begins growth as much as two weeks earlier than other warm-season grasses. Sand lovegrass remains green into the fall and retains fair forage value even after maturity. It is known to cure well on the stem and provide winter forage for livestock and wildlife. It is included in range reseeding mixtures to provide quick cover and early forage production. It is occasionally cut for hay. 


Seedbed preparation should provide a weed free, firm surface on which to plant. Since seed size is small the planting depth should be 2.5 to 5 mm to allow seedling emergence. This quality may be considered desirable for range seedings since seedlings continue to emerge over a longer period of time. 


Sand lovegrass provides highly palatable forage for livestock and is sometimes referred to as “ice cream grass” because of its palatability. Total nonstructural carbohydrate accumulation or carbohydrate reserves of a plant have been shown to play an important role in grass management and survival. Carbohydrate reserves of perennial grasses are important for winter survival, spring regrowth, and regrowth after herbage removal by clipping or grazing. According to Perry and Moser (1974) sand lovegrass has its greatest percentage of carbohydrate reserves located in their stem bases. Thus, sand lovegrass should not be closely grazed at any time during the growing season (Moser and Perry 1983). They further stated that defoliation once early in the growing season (June) appeared to be less detrimental to plant survival than late summer defoliations. In rangelands where good stands exist, sand lovegrass would yield and persist best in a rotational grazing system where defoliation was limited to once a year and it should have some leaf tissue remaining at the end of the grazing period. Sand lovegrass is a short lived plant even with light defoliation. Seed production should be permitted to allow for the possibility of new seedling development. 

Information from USDA NRCS Sand Lovegrass Plant Guide