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Mr. Smarty Plants - Do white-tailed deer consume King Ranch bluestem?

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Friday - October 25, 2013

From: Wimberley, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Pests, Problem Plants, Deer Resistant, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Do white-tailed deer consume King Ranch bluestem?
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Will white-tail deer in central Texas consume King Ranch bluestem ?

ANSWER:

King Ranch bluestem was introduced from Asia and found growing at the King Ranch about 80 years ago.  It was apparently introduced to reduce erosion on degraded rangeland and was planted along many roadsides for the same purpose.  It is a poor quality forage for cattle compared with some of our native grasses.  Because it is so invasive it has choked out quite a few of our native wildflowers, and it is widely considered to be a serious pest.

I think it is fair to say that white-tailed deer seldom if ever graze on KR bluestem.  In the first place, deer are primarily browsers of forbs and shrubby vegetation and consume grass only in time of starvation.  Even then, other, more nutritious grasses are much preferred because the thin leaves and stems of KR bluestem contain so little protein.  In  short, KR bluestem has no natural enemies in Central Texas, and environmentalists who endeavor to restore native prairie grasses to the area are finding no effective way to eliminate it.

Bummer!

 

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