Adaptation of Warm Season Perennial Grasses for Forage Quality, and Resilience High Temperatures in California Irrigated Pastures

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2023: $74,975.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipient: University of California Ag and Natural Resources
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Theresa Becchetti
University of California Ag and Natural Resources


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial)
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, pasture renovation
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research

    Proposal abstract:

    California has been experiencing a warming trend with hotter summers and long-term forecasts expect the trend to continue.  Irrigated pastures are a key component to livestock operations and historically planted with cool season forages.  We propose to investigate warm season forages better adapted to a hotter summer, while being palatable and maintain the current level of production. This is key to ensure financial viability of ranches and protect the natural resources of associated rangelands. Small plots at the USDA Lockeford Plant Material Center (PMC) are our first step to investigate which species will establish and test for nutritional value. The PMCs in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas have information on adaptation and forage value of warm season grasses species that we will utilize.  With the help of our partners, we will select species to then plant on their irrigated pastures, adding the warm season forages to the existing forage. We will collect forage production and forage quality data as well as data on selectivity of cattle.  Field days at the PMC and our partners’ irrigated pastures will demonstrate the success of warm season species.  We will also use print (newsletters, handouts, newspaper articles, blog posts, trade magazines, peer-reviewed articles) and social media posts to educate ranchers not only in our local area, but regional and statewide.  We expect to be able to identify species well adapted to our summer heat while being palatable and highly productive, providing a viable forage for our irrigated pastures long into the future.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    To determine warm season forages that thrive in California’s hotter summer climate while providing nutritious, palatable forage. 
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.