Paiute Orchardgrass

Cold Hardy, Down to 25 °F
Easily Established
Germination in Soils < 45°F
Good for Forage/Hay
Helps Control Erosion
Loosens Heavy Soils
Somewhat Drought Tolerant
Tolerates Mowing/Grazing



Paiute Orchardgrass was cooperatively released by the U.S. Forest Service and Aberdeen Plant Materials Center in 1983. The source germplasm for Paiute was a collection from Turkey. It is a cultivar that produces an abundance of basal leaves and leafy upright stems. Its intended use is for forage production on semi arid lands. Paiute orchardgrass was developed as a more drought tolerant cultivar and requires 10-12 inches of annual precipitation. Most other varieties require 16 inches.

Paiute Orchardgrass Habitat and characteristics:

Paiute Orchardgrass is dapted to many soil textures but does best on deep, well-drained medium textured soils. It performs satisfactorily on coarse and fine textured soils. It has low to moderate tolerance to acid and alkali. It does not grow well on saline sites, but will do well in moist but not flooded areas. It is widely adapted to farm and pasture lands across the united states. It is very desirable for pasture, range and wildlife habitat. Paiute generally grows to a height of 15 to 18 inches with leaves between 12 and 14 inches in arid or dryland situations. When under irrigation it will produce taller stands. Once Paiute Orchardgrass is established in can persist in precipitation as low as 8-10 inches.  It has been found to establish and persist at high elevations for up to 20 years under arid conditions in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Idaho.

Paiute Orchardgrass Uses:

Paiute Orchardgrass is a preferred dryland or arid variety well adapted to dryland pasture mixes or monocultures in areas of 10-12 inches annual precipitation. It is an excellent forage grass that is highly palatable. It is adapted well to both cutting and pasture and recovers well after both. It’s drought tolerant characteristics make it mature early. It matures too early to be compatible with alfalfa.

For range and reclamation, Paiute Orchardgrass is particularly important for increasing diversity to the sagebrush-bunchgrass and pinyon-juniper communities. Paiute is also useful for planting roadways and logging disturbances. It can be planted on both exposed and shaded disturbances associated with mining.

Paiute Orchardgrass History

Parent material of Paiute was introduced into the United States in 1934 from Ankara, Turkey. Paiute Orchardgrass was released in 1983 by the Forest Service Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico and Utah Agricultural Experiment Stations. Orchardgrass has been grown in North America since the 1750’s.


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