Bermudagrass

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Hope you have had a great 4th of July! I am extremely thankful for the sacrifice paid, and still being paid, for our freedom.

During the months of May, June, and July, I get a lot of calls about bermudagrass varieties. Bermudagrass is a warm-season perennial grass, meaning it will come back year after year if managed correctly. It grows well in sandy soils and can tolerate high temperatures. Bermudagrass is grown for both hay and pastures.

Bermudagrass varieties can be classified into common seeded, improved seeded, and sprigged hybrids. Common bermudagrass (or wiregrass) is the standard variety but is low-yielding and lower quality than the other bermudagrass varieties. Improved seeded varieties, like Cheyenne, Cheyenne II, Wrangler, Mohawk, Ranchero, Frio, and Laredo are blended varieties for many characteristics. There are five hybrid bermudagrass varieties:  Coastal, Midland 99, Tifton 85, Tifton 44, and Ozark. Coastal bermudagrass is one of the more planted hybrid varieties. It is usually cheaper than the other varieties to sprig and is characterized by its lighter green leaves. Midland 99 is tall and leafy and grows well in wet soils. Tifton 85 is characterized by its big stem and leaves, is darker green, and is taller. Tifton 44 has finer stems, is darker green, and forms a dense sod. Ozark is one of the newer cultivars and is the most expensive to sprig. It is tall and has longer leaves than Tifton 44.

In April of 2016, Extension Agents from Robeson, Bladen, Cumberland, and Scotland Counties established a sprigged bermudagrass variety trial in Robeson and Bladen Counties. The goal was to evaluate ground cover, canopy height, dry matter (DM) yield, and susceptibility to bermudagrass stem maggot (BSM) damage of the five bermudagrass cultivars in the year of establishment (2016) and the year after establishment (2017). The plots were randomly selected and are 40 feet by 100 feet. They were established with a sprigger using 40 bushels/acre. Plots were harvested to about a three-inch stubble height four times (July, August, September, and October) in both years during the growing season. Ground cover and canopy height showed some difference early in the growing season, but by the end of the growing season, ground cover was 100 percent and canopy height was greater than 12 inches. In 2016, there was no significant difference in dry matter yield, but by 2017, Tifton 85 dry matter yield was greater than the other varieties. In 2017, BSM damage was lower for Tifton 85 than the other varieties. Research is still ongoing for this year as more data will be collected.

If you are interested in seeing these different varieties (we can make a farm trip) or learning more about the research, please contact me at 910-671-3276.

As a final note, let’s remember all of N.C. Agriculture, especially our commercial hog farmers who are facing lawsuits — “No farmer, no food, no future.”

For more information, contact Taylor Chavis, Extension Livestock Agent, by email at Taylor_Chavis@ncsu.edu, or visit our website.

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