Orchardgrass persistence survey

Dear Orchardgrass Task Force, Extension agents, Professors, Industry members, and others,

I am a PhD student in Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech. I am working with Dr. Ben Tracy on understanding the causes of reduced persistence in orchardgrass hay stands around the region.

One component of my work is to survey orchardgrass stands in the hay-growing regions of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania (See attached map). I would like to ask your help in finding orchardgrass stands to include in the survey.

It is my hope to be able to sample 30 to 50 fields across this region during and around my spring break, March 7-16. I will collect plant and soil samples, assess stand cover, and scout for insects and diseases. I will revisit these stands in August 2014, March 2015, and August 2015 to assess persistence. With a little bit of information from producers about their management practices, this survey should help to identify agronomic and ecological factors related to reduced orchardgrass persistence.

Right now, I’d like to generate a list of potential stands to include in the survey and collect some information from their producers. There are a variety of logistical challenges in terms a large area to cover in a short window of time, so I may not be able to visited every field submitted.

To be a good candidate for the survey, an orchardgrass field should:
- Be approximately within the region marked on the attached map.
- Contain 50% or more orchardgrass.
- Be approximately 2 – 5 years old.
- If possible, be located on a farm where some OG stands are in good condition and others poor – farms where are I can sample paired fields like this are especially valuable.

If you know producers with stands that meet these criteria, please:
- Work with the producer to fill out the attached one-page Stand Description sheet and return it to me. Please use one sheet per orchardgrass stand; multiple sheets per producers are encouraged.
- Provide me the exact location of this field. Three ways of doing this are to: send me latitude and longitude of the field, email me a Google Earth placemark, or send a NRCS soil map with the field outline.

Attached is a sample field submission.

With a list of potential fields, I will determine the route I’ll take between them and contact producers with when I’d like to visit their stands. This will be in early March, and I will not need any assistance from the producers during the actual sampling.

Please send me stand information by February 28.

I very much appreciate your help with this. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or issues. Feel free to share this email with whoever may be interested.

I’m quite interested to see what the survey turns up and hopefully be able to provide some recommendations to improve orchardgrass persistence.


Gordon B. Jones

Doctoral Degree Student
Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences
Virginia Tech

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