Weeping lovegrass (Eragróstis cúrvula) is a warm-season, perennial bunch-grass that grows to a height of 2 to 4 feet. Introduced to the USA from East Africa, it has rapid growth and produces a great many basal leaves 10 to 20 inches long and 1/4 inch wide that taper to a needle like point. These long, folding or weeping leaves suggest its common name.
The seed heads are loose, vary in color from dull straw to leaden gray and measure 8 to 12 inches long. They may stand erect or droop to produce a nodding effect depending upon the set of seed. The small seed, shaped like a wheat kernel, number about 1 ½ million per pound.
Weeping lovegrass grows in the Southern Great Plains including Texas, Oklahoma, southern New Mexico, Arizona, the southern half of Nevada and in California east of the mountains. It grows well on most light-textured, well-drained soil types, although it prefers sandy loams. It will also thrive on low fertility soils. Climatic conditions determine its range of adaptation. However, low winter temperatures tend to prevent regrowth which results in the grass acting as an annual or short-lived perennial.
Weeping lovegrass is easily established by seeds and spreads by tilling. Normally, weeping lovegrass can be planted after danger of severe frost is over, and anytime throughout the summer with success. A single plant may form a dense sod bunch 12 to 15 inches in diameter within two to three years. Seed alone at a rate of 3 to 5 pounds per acre, or 1 to 2 pounds per acre in mixtures with other species. Seeds will germinate quickly and plant growth is rapid.
The seed is extremely fine, requiring mechanical seeding equipment to have small seed attachments. If seeded with a ‘hand’ cyclone seeder, the lovegrass seed should be mixed with a diluent or a carrier (cornmeal, sand, or fine sawdust) for uniform distribution of seed. Do not cover seed more than ½ to 1 inch on sandy soils; ¼ inch is sufficient on silt loams. Cultipacking soil before seeding is helpful.
This grass responds to nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers with additional forage and remarkable increases in protein and carotin content.
Weeping lovegrass produces excellent pasture during early spring and fall if grazed sufficiently close to keep the forage tender.
Sites too steep or stony for use of mechanical equipment can be seeded without soil scarification. Broadcast seeding by air or hydroseeders is successful if seeding rates are increased to compensate for poor seedbed. Where possible, the soil should be scarified and firmed.
Weeping lovegrass can be used as a temporary cover for erosion control purposes. On surface min-spoil, it provides almost immediate cover on steep outer slopes where spoil is rather acidic and of low fertility.