Field Guide   pic  Weed Management   picture  Downy Brome

Downy Brome (Bromus tectorum L.)

Crop Impacts: Winter growing crops and pastures

Downy Brome 1

About Downy Brome:

Downy Brome is an annual or winter annual grass that reproduces by their seeds. It is known for being an aggressive weed that has become a threat for winter and spring crops such as winter wheat. This is due to the fact that its germination period is typically in the fall and winter months.

Family: Grass Family (Gramineae)

Downy Brome 2 Downy Brome 3

Downy Brome Scouting and Prevention:

The stem of this grass stands at about 6 to 24 inches tall, depending on the location it grows in. At emergence, the leaves of a Downy Brome plant is very narrow with a brownish-green colour to them. When the weed reaches full maturity, it is a slender, flat, green, purplish colour with very hairy leaves.

Common locations

  • - Pastures
  • - Fields with winter crops


Primarily this weed is spread by attaching to equipment and animals. To prevent Downy Brome from entering a new area, clean farm equipment that has been in a contaminated area to make sure that none of the seeds have latched onto the equipment. Make sure that you are purchasing seeds that are weed free, in combination with adding a spring cereal to your crop rotation. These methods can be an effective prevention.

Downy Brome Control:

The best way to manage Downy Brome is to integrate both cultural and chemical control methods to remove the seed source, contain its spread and destroy the pre-existing weeds before they can completely deny your crops and pastures of water. The most important step in eradicating Downy Brome is taking control of it early in the season, which would be in mid-May. Treatment needs to be done consistently for a minimum of 3 years.

Cultural Control

Downy Brome is very easy to pull out due to its relatively shallow root system, as long as it is done before the grass lets its seeds go. Mowing can also be used in the blooming stages of Downy Brome. However, the short plants get missed by the mower, allowing them to produce seeds.

Chemical Control

Non-selective herbicides eradicate all vegetation it comes in contact with. Roundup is the most effective non-selective herbicide and is applied when Downy Brome is still a small plant. The roundup will be transported to the root, killing the entire plant. It is typically applied at a rate of one-half to one liter per acre and takes about 10 to 14 days to fully kill the plant.

Selective herbicides eradicate a specific type of plant. Sencor (metribuzin) is a registered herbicide for use on winter wheat. It needs to be applied at 300g per acre in the fall when Downy Brome is still small.

Latin / Alternative Downy Brome names:

  • - Bromus tectorum L.
  • - Brome des toits
  • - Cheat
  • - Cheat grass
  • - Cheat grass brome
  • - Downy chess
  • - Slender chess

Additional Downy Brome Resources