How To Divide Native Grasses

[ Music ]>>Welcome back,
I’m Curtis Smith. In New Mexico we’re very
interested in saving water and there are a lot
of ways we can do it, but one of the ways is
to grow native plants. And native grasses are one of
the really good ones we can use in the landscape using them
in a lot of different ways. And here at the Los Lunas
Agricultural Science Center the NRCS Plant Material
Center is working with some of our native grasses, Ramona Gardner is got
some projects going on.>>Yeah.>>So, the Agricultural Science
Center working with the NRCS and the Master Gardeners and the
Cooperative Extension Service are developing some grasses that
you can use in your landscapes to conserve water and have
an attractive landscape. And what are we looking at here?>>We’re looking at
little blue stem. Little blue stem is a native
perennial bunch grass. It is adapted to 10 to
12 inches of rainfall for year, so it’s very –>>It will survive on
less than that even.>>Oh, yeah. I don’t think you would have any
problem having it survive here with no moisture. But, like I tell everybody about
natives in their landscape, if you want them
to look beautiful, supplement them a little bit.>>A little bit of water
they’ll look a lot better.>>Yeah. And what they’ve
done is, like I said, the Master Gardeners have really
been the push behind this. I think you, maybe,
8 or 10 years ago.>>It’s been a few years.>>Yeah, came up with
the idea that, well, NRCS is developing these
for conservation purposes, the things that we do like
conserving critical areas and soil erosion and air quality
and things, which you came up with the idea that we
should be looking at this for our urban customer.>>You had how many
types out there?>>We have 133 accessions
that came from all over the Western United States.>>Lot of different varieties,
different appearances.>>Oh, incredible. I always like to take
students there to look at genetic diversity,
because it’s — you don’t have to tell them
anything, just look at this.>>You’ve got blues and greens
and yellows all side by side.>>And what we ask the Master
Gardeners to do is come out and make some selections for us. So, we asked them to look
for our winter color, which the blue stems they go from blond all the
way to a rusty red.>>Beautiful winter color. So, even in the winter — you don’t have to cut
it down for winter. Leave it standing there.>>No, no, I love
the winter color. And Gunny has one
that’s a winter color, I think this is a blond color.>>A little bit dark
tannish blond.>>Blond. And they also
selected two growth types. This is the short
more erect type and they also have a taller
erect type in the blond. And in the rusty red they
have a very erect one and they have a floppy red one.>>And also see you’ve got a
lot of summer colors from blues to yellows to chartreuse
to greens.>>Oh, yeah, and you can
see the summer colors, the thing they concentrated
on was this, what I call blue or blue green, which
is very desirable.>>It is.>>Then the green, which
has its purpose too. I’m always amazed at the things that the Master Gardeners
come up with. They’re very — they’re
always thinking and one of the things they came up
with the idea of a grass hedge, which I just think is great. And you can use something
like this, we’ll know that this was a blue
green summer color and then when they release it they’ll
know what the fall color is. So, you can have this up, you
can have a mini windbreak.>>And what are the
Master Gardeners doing now?>>What they’ve done they’ve
already made their selections. They’ve been out — coming
out for two years now and they’ve been going out
into this field that has — it actually has 133 accessions,
which replicated three times. So, there’s a lot of plant
material for them to look at. Actually in each replication
there’s four plants, so there’s a lot
of plant material. So, they’ve been
looking at this stuff and now then they have brought
it in and they’ve taken clumps out of the field and we
have grown them in pots in the greenhouse and
they are now dividing them and putting them in the pot so that we have lots
of different plants.>>So, creating clones.>>That’s exactly right.>>So genetically they’re
all the same once you start dividing.>>That’s right. I mean cloning is nothing
new to plant people.>>That’s right.>>It’s in the news now,
but we’ve been doing it.>>Well, plants naturally clone.>>That’s right. It’s nothing unusual. But the thing is you get a plant
that is exactly like this one.>>Okay, so they’ve
selected these, now they’re increasing the
number so you can release it as a released variety.>>Yeah, it will be released through a New Mexico crop
improvement and you’ll be — nursery people will be able
to obtain this material through NRCS and NMSU
and the Master Gardeners.>>And they’re just
separating the clumps into individual plantlets,
putting them into pots. Those will grow into new
clumps, they’ll do it again.>>That’s right. What they will do is — we’ll
take these clumps to the field.>>Ah, okay.>>So, what I hope we’ll have
is I think we would like to get, whatever they select we’d like
to get 100 clumps in the field. Just because it’s a very
efficient way to produce them. It’s cheap compared
to a greenhouse.>>And that’s what will
then be divided and given into the nursery industry.>>That’s right. And hopefully they have some
plans to do some testing on their lawns and maybe we can
get some of the municipalities to look at some of these things
and, you know, there’s a lot of things that they can do. And I think the Master
Gardeners are the key.>>They really are and
they’ll also be trying out for you, talking about it.>>That’s right.>>And you know,
we didn’t mention, but there’s three counties of Master Gardeners
being involved in this.>>Yes, Sandoval,
Valencia, and Bernalillo, and they’ve all been
here at one time or the other doing their
part and Sandoval has people that have really been pushing
it in the rear actuary.>>Right. And as people
in other counties hear about this they’re
very interested.>>I think so. You know what? This is a very unique program. I work with the plant material
center and I don’t know of any other plant
material centers who all do native
plant material. I don’t know of a situation
where they’re working with a gardening group who has
all this expertise in order to get this into
the urban landscape.>>This is good. And, Ramona, I want to
thank you, but also want to thank the Master Gardeners. And you be sure and go out and
thank your Master Gardeners for the work they’re
doing as well. Thank you. [ Music ]

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