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New hay, kleingrass, exported to Far East

The Issue

Almost half of arable land in the irrigated Sonoran Desert, including Imperial County, is dedicated to forage production. New forage resources are always of interest to local growers.

What Has ANR Done?

In the early 90’s, grass hay introduction trials were conducted at UCDREC by Juan N.Guerrero, area livestock advisor. One of the grasses evaluated was kleingrass (Panicum coloratum L.), a perennial crop that thrives in desert heat and can be grown on less productive soil.

The Payoff

Kleingrass Important to Low Desert Economy

Using results of that trial and starting in about 1993, several growers in Imperial County began cultivating kleingrass as an crop for export to the Far East, where milk production practices require forage that is relatively fibrous and will extend productive life of the cow. Once established, kleingrass requires only water, fertilizer and baling costs, thus is inexpensive to produce and economically competitive in Japan. In 2001, 10,262 acres of kleingrass hay were grown in Imperial County for export, with a gross economic value of $7,711,000. In the Palo Verde Valley of Riverside County and along the Arizona side of the Colorado River about 15,000 additional acres of kleingrass are grown for export with similar gross economic values.


Supporting Unit: Imperial County

Juan N. Guerrero, Area Livestock Advisor, 1050 E. Holton Road, Holtville, 92250 (760)352-9474