Managing soapweed, yucca in southwest Nebraska pastures
Yucca is a native perennial plant throughout much of southwest Nebraska. Yucca density can be as high as 2000 plants per acre. The high density can severely reduce quality and quantity of forage for livestock and wildlife. Yuccas are hardy plants and survive drought, fire and livestock grazing.
Seasonal development of established yucca begins in May with flowering. The fruit that yucca forms ripen in July and seed disperses in September. New plants are established by seed or ramets. Ramets are parent plant clones via rhizomes. Usually yucca establishes a new plant via seed and then colonizes the area via ramets.
Yucca infestation can have negative impacts on wildlife. If there are only a few plants they can provide protection, food and nesting habitat for birds and small mammals. When forced deer, pronghorn and cattle will eat yucca fruit and flowers. Crude protein content of yucca is 3-5% and therefore poor quality.
Yucca control can be accomplished mechanically, mowing or shredding, but since mowing has rhizomes, mowing must be repeated.
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