Expansion of feral cereal rye (Secale cereale L.) on non-crop hillsides in northern Utah.
Feral cereal rye is an aggressive, persistent winter annual grass. Although feral rye has been documented as a weed in Utah cropland for many years, it has only recently been described as a weed of natural areas in Utah. After feral rye was observed on hillside locations where it had not previously been present, research was conducted to evaluate expansion rates in isolated patches and on a landscape scale. Individual patch measurements indicated expansion rates of 17%, 42%, 44%, and 112% in 2009. The landscape expansion rates were 1%, 4%, 8%, 21%, and 50% in the same year. The spread of feral rye appears to have occurred primarily on south- to west-facing slopes where the density and diversity of native species is limited. The expansion of feral rye into natural, undisturbed areas indicates that this species should be closely monitored. The relatively short seed longevity and current small infestations make it a good candidate for early detection/rapid response efforts.