Stevens County Noxious Weed Control Board
This web site will help you identify & control noxious weed with information and photographs to aid you.

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Cheatgrass (Downy brome)
Bromus tectorum           
Grass family

Key identifying traits

  • An upright to somewhat spreading grass growing 3-24” tall
  • Leaf blades are flat and the entire plant is softly hairy at all stages of growth
  • Leaves start out light green, turning a silvery sheen and then reddish-purple
  • Drooping, one-sided seed heads (panicles) are dense,  2-6” long & become brittle as the plant dries, shattering & disbursing seeds with their long, barbed awns (this is the one that gets in your shoes & socks, pet’s ears & paws, undercarriage, etc!)

Biology and ecology

  • Usually a winter annual with a fibrous root system, germinating in fall, growing through winter & maturing in late spring or early summer
  • It is a native of Eurasia; first sightings in the U.S. occurred in the mid-1800’s and now widespread throughout the continent
  • Frequently colonizes overgrazed range, abandoned farmland, rights-of-way and many dry waste areas


Prevention – Learn to identify plants; start monitoring early in the season or in fall; clean equipment & use clean seed & feed

Biological – Crown rot is being explored in dry sites

Cultural – Do not overgraze!  Vigorously growing desirable grasses/other cover crops will help; crop rotation may be effective

Mechanical –Mowing is not effective unless it is done continuously & very low; small areas can be pulled or dug; tillage at appropriate times can be effective

Chemical – There are many products on the market listed for control of cheatgrass whether in a crop situation or non-crop areas. Timing is important: refer to the PNW Weed Management handbook for specific chemical recommendations

Where found –
Widely scattered throughout Stevens Co and Washington.

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Last Edit: March 25, 2015

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