SNIVELY BASIN - Cereal Rye Control and Native Plant Restoration

As the only natural spring between White Bluff Ferry and Yakima, Rattlesnake Spring in the Snively Basin was a historic stopping point on the wagon trail between Spokane and Yakima. Early settlers were attracted to the deep, rich soils of the basin, and despite an annual precipitation of 6-8 inches, large fields were cleared for grain production. During the late 1930s, the area was taken over by the war department as part of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and agricultural production ceased. Weedy cereal rye (Secale cereal) subsequently invaded Snively Basin, particularly disturbed areas that had been farmed previously. Cereal rye is a winter annual grass that poses a serious economic threat to eastern Washington's wheat producers, along with invading undisturbed habitat and displacing native species.

After a wildfire in 2007, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) managers attempted to curtail cereal rye growth by applying a variety of herbicides, including imazapic (Plateau or Journey) and glyphosate (Round-Up). The herbicides temporarily controlled the rye, but did not eradicate it. In the fall of 2009, former grain fields in the Snively Basin were seeded by BFI, using a TruAx Flex II rangeland drill, with a mixture of native species, including thickspike wheatgrass, Bluebunch wheatgrass, Sandberg's bluegrass, western yarrow, Indian Ricegrass, and Lewis' flax. Planted species emerged well in the Spring of 2010, but unfortunately, so did the cereal rye. As this rye is extremely competitive, development of the native seedlings would have been severely hindered, with complete failure possible on some portions of the field. In late May, BFI, under contract with USFWS, performed a wick-applied herbicide application to the cereal rye, which was taller than the planted native seedlings.

As of fall 2010, it appears that the seeded species are thriving under the canopy cover of chemically-killed cereal rye. Due to the intensity of the rye infestation and prolonged seed dormancy, we anticipate the need for two more years of aggressive management to ensure the fullest potential of this seeding.

Figure 11. Planted seedlings growing under cereal rye.

  More Success Stories  

DUFFY CREEK - Crested Wheatgrass Conversion to Sage-Grouse Habitat
WIND ENERGY DEVELOPMENT - Revegetation of Disturbed Habitat
OVEREN ROAD SAFE-CRP - Diversification of CRP Plantings
HUNTZINGER BOAT LAUNCH - Riparian Mitigation Planting
MILEPOST 31 WILDFIRE - Post-wildfire Seeding Project
PRIEST RANCH POST-FIRE PLANTINGS - Grass Seedling Grow-out and Planting Project
CASTLE ROCK - Erosion Control and Revegetation
SNIVELY BASIN - Cereal Rye Control and Native Plant Restoration

BFI Native Seeds top

BFI Native Seeds
You have questions - What to do? Where to start? We'll do our best to help you.

Seed Calculator
See an estimate of
what and how much
of it you'll need
to do the job.

BFI Native Seeds - Moses Lake, WA - 509.765.6348
Jerry Benson | Matthew Benson
site development: bgp