Recently, we have received a number of inquiries in regards to a timothy look alike that has colonized many
fields in northern Vermont. This grass has a purple hue and a similar spike shaped head to timothy. Yes, this grass has already “headed-out”! If you take a closer look you’ll find that it is quite different from the
commonly grown forage grass timothy. This grass is actually called Meadow Barley, a common grass found in conservation mixes, which may explain its relatively new appearance in the area. It has high feed value for wildlife in the early spring, but unfortunately, it has low feed value for domestic animals. It is a scrawny,
short, wiry stemmed plant with few leaves that can quickly colonize a variety of soil types and conditions. It
is well suited to grow in wet areas but can also tolerate dry conditions. It heads out in the early spring
before you would even think about putting a mowing machine in the field. Under the right conditions it can
out-compete the desirable forage species. Control is relatively easy to achieve. One option is to rotate the
field to an annual crop. In a perennial forage situation, early season close mowing and/or management intensive grazing is a means to eliminate this weedy species. Lastly, proper fertility and pH for the desired forage species will help these plants out compete the meadow barley. For further information please feel free to contact the NW Crops and Soils Team. Download a pdf version of this article.