- Agriculture, Forestry & Soils
- Field crops, grasses, plant fibers, spices, tree crops, herbs
- Grass crop
Burton, Glenn W. Coastal Plain Experiment Station, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tifton, Georgia.
Couch, Houston B. Department of Plant Pathology and Physiology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia.
Last reviewed:September 2021
- Growth characteristics
- Reproduction and propagation
- Nutritive value
- Control measures
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Any member of the family Poaceae (Gramineae) cultivated as forage and grain for consumption. Grasses are arguably the most useful of all the plants that cover the Earth. The cereal grass crops [wheat (Fig. 1), rice, corn (maize), rye, barley, oats, sorghum, and millets] supply directly three-fourths of the energy and more than half of the protein in the foods consumed by humans. Moreover, these cereals together with the forage grasses supply most of the food for domestic animals, which in turn provide further food (milk, meat, and eggs) for humans as well as much of the draft power required to grow crops. Deer, antelope, rabbits, and many other wild game also depend on grasses for much of their sustenance. In addition, sugarcane produces more than half of the world supply of sugar. Starch, and most of the alcohol for beverage and industrial uses, comes from the cereal grasses. See also: Barley; Cereal; Corn; Forage crop; Grain crop; Grassland ecosystem; Millet; Oat; Rice; Rye; Sorghum; Starch; Sugarcane; Wheat
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