Downy brome or cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) are the most problematic invasive annual grasses in rangelands of the western United States, including sagebrush communities that provide habitat to sage grouse. Rehabilitation of infested sites requires effective weed control strategies combined with seeding of native plants or desirable competitive species. In this study, we evaluated the effect of three fall-applied pre-emergence herbicides (imazapic, rimsulfuron, and chlorsulfuron sulfometuron), and one spring-applied postemergence herbicide (glyphosate) on the control of downy brome and medusahead and the response of seeded perennial species and resident vegetation in two sagebrush communities in northeastern California. All pre-emergence treatments gave > 93% control of both invasive species at both sites in the first year. Glyphosate was less consistent, giving > 94% control at one site and only 61% control of both species at the other site. Imazapic was the only herbicide to maintain good control (78–88%) of both species 2 yr after treatment. No herbicide caused detectible long-term damage to either perennial grasses or annual forbs, and imazapic treatment resulted in an increase in resident native forb cover 3 yr after treatment. Broadcast seeding with or without soil incorporation did not result in successful establishment of perennial species, probably due to below-average precipitation in the year of seeding. These results indicate that several chemical options can give short-term control of downy brome and medusahead. Over the course of the study, imazapic provided the best management of both invasive annual grasses while increasing native forb cover.
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