Reed canarygrass is high-yielding and grows very well in wetlands and well-drained soils. But it is coarse-stemmed and contains alkaloids that reduce palatability, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist.

To use reed canarygrass pasture effectively, graze it before it gets very tall, he says. “Ideally, this means that when the grass gets 8-10” tall and no taller, immediately graze it down to 3” or 4” in just a couple of days and then move off to another grazing area. When it regrows to 8-10”, graze it again. Every time it regrows, graze it again and again.”

During fast growth in spring, the same area may need to be grazed every two or three weeks. “This takes some dedication, planning and intensive management. If the grass gets away from you, animals will just nibble at some leaves. Then you would be better off cutting the taller growth for hay followed by renewing your intensive grazing as regrowth begins.”