WSU Extension

Hortsense

Weeds : Downy brome (Cheatgrass, Downy chess) : Bromus tectorum
(revision date: 6/9/2014)

Family: Poaceae (Graminae)
Cycle: Winter annual
Plant Type: Grass

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful weed management.

Biology
Downy brome is a winter annual (sometimes a summer annual) reproducing by seed. Germination typically occurs during late summer or fall, with overwintering plants resuming growth in the spring. Plants can reach over two feet high in good growing conditions, but are typically shorter (four inches and up). Leaves are green (sometimes reddish) in color and are covered with soft hairs at all stages of maturity. Ligules, which are found around the stem at the junction of the leaf blade and leaf sheath, are membranous and medium-tall with jagged edges. Sheaths are hairy with prominent veins, and auricles are absent. The flowering stems are slender and drooping, with seeds typically arranged along one side. Seedheads are frequently purplish and may reach an overall length of six inches. SPECIAL INFORMATION: Downy brome plants become dry after producing seed and dense stands can become a serious fire hazard. Dry seeds can be a nuisance to humans and animals due to their habit of working into clothing, fur, and soft tissues of the mouth. Dogs in particular may suffer from seeds working into ears and between toes.
Habitat
Downy brome is a common weed of waste areas, roadsides, pastures, rangeland, and cultivated areas, especially in dry areas of Eastern Washington.

Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Cultivation (rototilling or hoeing) will effectively eliminate plants.
  • Hand-pull to eliminate weeds.
  • Apply organic mulches, such as bark, compost, grass clippings, straw, and other materials, in a layer from two to several inches thick for effective weed management.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

Apply according to label instructions. Glyphosate products should be applied as spot treatments only! NOTE: Some ingredients listed here are only available in combination. Read the label carefully on combination products to make sure the product is suitable for your specific situation.

Landscape areas
  • glyphosate
Turf areas
    Bare ground areas
    • glyphosate
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    Caption: Downy brome
    Photo by: J.A. Kropf
    Caption: Downy brome established in field
    Photo by: J.A. Kropf