Fig. 8. - Barnyard grass (Echinochloa crus-galli). X 1/5.
Range: All cultivated regions of the world. Habitat: All soils; invades any crop.
The seeds of this weed are among the most frequent impurities of other grass seeds and of clover and grain. It was probably in such company that it came to us from Europe, with the early settlers. Once in the soil, it retains its vitality for years, springing up whenever brought near enough to surface warmth and light. Cattle will eat it when young but it soon becomes woody and worthless. Birds and poultry, especially turkeys, are very fond of the seeds, which they strip from the stalks. (Fig. 9.)
Culms branching from the base, growing from fibrous and clustered roots, usually one to four feet tall - though when started late, and pressed for time, Foxtail matures seed when no more than three inches high; stalks compressed at the base, sometimes decumbent. Sheaths loose, compressed, the lower ones often tinged with red; blades three to six inches long, nearly a half-inch wide, flat, smooth, and hanging with a twist. Spikes two to four inches long, the spikelets closely crowded, one-seeded, subtended by an involucral cluster of six to ten upwardly barbed, brownish yellow bristles much longer than the spikelets. Seeds with palea and finely wrinkled lemma both adherent, yellowish brown, long ovoid, about a tenth of an inch in length.
In grain fields, stubbles should be given surface cultivation; or, if the soil is dry enough, burning over will destroy the seeds that have fallen on the ground. In cultivated crops tillage should be continued very late, in order to prevent the development and distribution of seed from tardily grown plants. Sheep may be turned in to graze down the aftermath of infested meadows.
Fig. 9. -Yellow Foxtail (Setaria glauca). X 1/4.