Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) is a cool season grass that is well known for its ability to withstand flooding. Once established it spreads by rhizomes and forms a solid sod. Its deep root system also allows it to handle drought conditions better than most grasses. With good fertility the crop can grow over 6 feet tall.
Reed canary grass can be used in high yielding hay and pasture lands. In hay production the highest yield is obtained at heading; however the highest quality is obtained prior to this. Hay quality will decline rapidly after heading, and cutting should not be delayed. Reed canary grass can improve the productivity of pastures. Grazing should take place early in the season, before the reed begins to loose quality and palatability. If the grass is allowed to become more mature, animals will choose other grasses. Ensure that low alkaloid varieties are used for optimal palatability. This grass is also very frost sensitive, and will quickly turn brown after the first fall frost. One of the interesting characteristics of reed canary grass is its response to high levels of fertility. It will respond to N rates greater than 200 lbs/A.
Reed canary grass has other uses as well. Its ability to absorb excessive nutrients makes it very valuable as a biofuel. The grass can also be very valuable for erosion control due to its sod form capabilities. Caution should be taken as this grass can become invasive and takeover the native vegetation.