Seed
Vegetative Growth
Flowering Plant

Canary Grass

Grass

(Phalaris aquatica)

Originally a native of the Mediterranean region, it has been cultivated for many years for its yellowish seed and more recently to provide cover for game birds.

Uses

This grass is used in game cover and is good for pheasants and partridges as well as being beneficial to farmland birds like Linnets and Wrens. It can give a range of benefits, providing cover for nesting, holding and driving.

Persistence

In game cover situations its not unusual for this species to last for 5-7 years.

Strengths

A long term cover for game birds, where replanting regularly is impractical, it will provide dense cover throughout the winter, unlike other species that die away and become brittle like Maize.

Frost Tolerance

The stout culms and leafy growth habit provide good cover even after winter frosts.

Sowing Rate Advice

2.5 - 3kgs per acre / 6.25 - 7.5kgs per ha.

Drill in wide rows (60-90cm) to stop cover becoming overly thick.

Mixture Sowing Rate Advice

Normally sown as a pure stand

Potentially can be combined with a long term traditional tussocky grass margin mix,

Ideal Sowing Time

Start sowing in spring from mid April to May.

Management

Game crops may need topping annually after the season. Remedial action may need to be taken if the cover becomes to thick.

Distinguishing characteristics

Seed

Seed
A rounded to oval seed which is pointed at both ends. It has a beige colour and very smooth and shiny texture. It has a length of 3mm.

Vegetative State

Flowering Plant

Flowering Plant
The leaves are green, hairless and rough to the touch. They taper to a narrow, fine point and at their widest point they can reach. The ligules are long and membranous, reaching up to 8mm in length. Each node are a distinctive greenish, white colour. The densely packed, ovate (ovoid) panicles are oblong to almost spike like, they can reach from 1.5 - 6cm in length. The glumes are easily identified by a dark green stripe running from the base to the tip. The plant has a creeping growth habit. It can reach a height of 1.5 metres.

Additional Info

Flowers from June - September. Notably slow to establish in the first year, a short-term cover crop may be used to give cover in the first season.

Works well with

A short term annual species like Mustard can be broadcast directly after sowing and rolled together, or a cereal like Wheat / Barley can be drilled before sowing the Canary seed, to give more cover in year 1. Seed rates for nurse cover species should be low.

History

Canary Grass is originally a native of the Mediterranean region and is now grown commercially in several parts of the world for birdseed.