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Siberian wheatgrass

Siberian wheatgrass, also Siberian couch grass, (Elymus sibiricus) is a fodder crop related to perennial cereal grasses.

Economic importance

Siberian couch grass has become widespread during phytomelioration of solonetzic soils in the steppe arid regions of Siberia, where it is considered a good reliable fodder crop during severe droughts, as well as in early spring and late autumn.

In arid steppe conditions, it gives one cut, in the forest-steppe zone, with sufficient moisture, it also gives another aftertaste. In terms of aftertaste, it surpasses wheatgrass, rootless wheatgrass, and awnless rump. Hay that is harvested at the optimal time, that is, during the period of the end of the tube – the beginning of heading, is of high quality and nutritional value.

100 kg of Siberian wheatgrass hay contains 61.3 feed units and 9.2 kg of digestible protein. 100 kg of green mass – 28.7 feed units and 5.5 kg of digestible protein (VNII fodder).

It can be used as a pasture crop in the early phases of growth and development. However, when heading, it quickly coarsens, and the awns of adult plants can harm animals.

On solonets soils, it is usually grown in a mixture with alfalfa or sweet clover.

It occurs in natural phytocenoses, forming dense thickets.

In agrotechnical terms, the layer from under the Siberian wheatgrass is not inferior to the layer from under the rootless wheatgrass.

Cultivation areas

Cultivated in crop rotations in Siberia, the Far East, Buryatia.


In terms of yield, it belongs to highly productive grasses. The highest yield is obtained in 2-3 years of life. Hay yield reaches 2.5-4 t/ha and more.

In a mixture with alfalfa and clover, the hay yield is 3-4 t/ha.

In terms of seed yield, one of the highest among cereal grasses. So, in SibNIISKhoz seed yield was 800-1200 kg/ra.

Botanical description

Siberian wheatgrass (Elymus sibiricus L.) is a perennial grass, loose bushy riding types.

The root system is fibrous, powerful. In the first year of life, they penetrate the soil to a depth of up to 80 cm, in the second – up to 1.5 m. It branches strongly in the arable horizon.

Stems at the base are articulated, hollow, smooth, cylindrical, 70-120 cm high, well and evenly leafy. The bush is erect, closes to the base, the stems diverge from the middle, the ears are drooping. Leafiness in the first cut is 41%, in the second – 52.7%.

The leaves are thin, hard, rough on both sides, light, gray or gray-green, 25-50 cm long.

Inflorescence – spinous arcuate narrow loose spike, 12-24 cm long, droops when ripe. The awn of the upper lemma is up to 1.5-2.5 cm long. When ripe, the ear and awns become very coarse, reducing the quality of hay.

The fruit is a large caryopsis covered with coarse hairs. The mass of 1000 seeds is 2.5-3.0 g. When threshed, the seeds are held inside the lemmas.

Biological features

Refers to xerophytes.

Frost resistance, winter hardiness, drought resistance and salt tolerance are high.

Siberian wheatgrass seeds begin to germinate at a temperature of 4-6 °C.

It grows well on loamy, sandy and sandy soils, floodplain and sloping lands, upland.


Siberian wheatgrass is able to maintain high productivity for 5-7 years, with good care – up to 10 years.

In the spring it grows early and quickly, after mowing it is good. Mixed with perennial leguminous grasses, it gives a good formation.

The type of development is spring-winter.


Usually they are sown under the cover of spring grain crops or uncovered. Seeds are awned, therefore, without preliminary machine treatment, their sowing is impossible. For pre-sowing preparation of seeds, they are passed through a clover grater or, in extreme cases, a silage cutter.

The seeding rate in its pure form, by a coverless broadcasting method, is 25 kg/ha, by an ordinary seeding method – 20 kg/ha, in grass mixtures in which it is the only loose bush grass – 8-12 kg/ha, in grass mixtures with other loose bush grasses – 5-7 kg/ha.

Sowing depth 1-3 cm.


Harvesting for hay is started in the heading phase.

Seed plants are harvested separately or by direct combining. Separate harvesting begins in the phase of wax ripeness, direct combining – in the phase of full maturation of seeds.


Crop production / P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko, V.S. Kuznetsov and others; Ed. P.P. Vavilov. – 5th ed., revised. and additional – M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. – 512 p.: ill. – (Textbook and textbooks for higher educational institutions).

V.V. Kolomeichenko. Crop production / Textbook. — M.: Agrobusinesscenter, 2007. — 600 p. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Agriculture and crop production. Ed. V.S. Niklyaev. – M .: “Epic”, 2000. – 555 p.