Alternative Opportunities for Small Farms: Bermudagrass Production Review ( Publisher's URL )

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Alternative Opportunities for Small Farms: Bermudagrass Production Review
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Fact sheet
University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, EDIS
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Gainesville, Fla.
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Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Melanie Mercer.
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"First published: June 1987. Reprinted: May 1994. Revised: August 1997"
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University of Florida Institutional Repository
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University of Florida
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1.This document is Fact Sheet RF-AC006, one of a series of the Extension Administration Office, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences, Universit y of Florida. First published: June 1987. Reprinted: Ma y 1994. Revised: Au g ust 1997. Please visit the FAIRS Web site at .The Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without re g ard to race, color, sex, a g e, handicap, or national ori g in. For information on obtainin g other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences / University of Florida / Christine Taylor Waddill, Dean2.David L. Wri g ht, professor; R. L. Stanle y Jr, associate professor; and T. D. Hewitt, associate professor, North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC), Quinc y ; Kathleen C. Ruppert, assistant professor, Florida Ener gy Extension Service, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences, Universit y of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.Fact Sheet RF-AC006Alternative Opportunities for Small Farms: Bermuda g rass Production Review1 Compiled from information obtained from David L. Wri g ht, R. L. Stanle y Jr. and T. D. Hewitt b y Kathleen C. Ruppert2Production of bermudagrass hay may be of interest toHay can be harvested as square bales, which are some producers. The profitability depends on the yieldusually more marketable than large rolls to small and the sale price. The potential for a profit exists, but theranchettes with horses and other livestock, but this high labor requirement, high costs of equipment and wetrequires more labor for harvest and storage facilities. In summer weather prevent many people from getting into1997, small square bales sold for $3.00 to $4.00 hay production. Several bermudagrass varieties aredepending on quality and availability. The large round adapted to the north Florida climate and soil types. Theybales require less labor at harvest, but usually are sold at a can produce over 6 tons/acre/year of hay. Coastal (alower price per ton. Large round bales sell for $20 to $35 variety of bermudagrass) cut for hay every 4 weeks willdepending on quality, availability and size of bale. produce about the same amount of forage over the seasonWeather greatly influences the quality of hay produced and as the new Tifton 9 bahiagrass cut every 8 weeks. Yieldstherefore the revenue which may be gained. are usually 4 to 5 tons per acre. A relatively high level of fertility is required for high yield of high quality hay ofA system that would allow harvesting 2 or 3 cuttings either bahia or round bale silage when the weather does not permit few producers, but requires special equipment and storageMarketin g SituationThere is a demand for hay to feed horses, dairy cattle and beef cattle. Some types of hay are used by mushroom farms and construction companies. Bermuda-grasses resistance to root-knot nematodes allows many legumes that are susceptible to this nematode to be overseeded intoThe costs of establishment may exceed $150/acre and it during October and November, thus extending thethe annual costs of production exceeds $225/acre. grazing season through the winter months. OverseedingApproximately half of the costs of production are the with legumes during the winter months results in nitrogenequipment and labor required for harvesting. A minimum being fixed for bermudagrass production the next spring,of 80 to 100 acres would be required for efficient and may be equal to applying 200 lb/acre of commercialutilization of equipment unless it was shared with other nitrogen. curing of hay is desirable. This has been followed by a which is expensive. Roundbale silage rolls can be moved just as roundbale hay.Labor and Capital


Alternative Opportunities for Small Farms: Bermuda g rass Production Review Pa g e 2June 1998producers. In certain parts of Florida custom harvesting is available. The bermudagrasses need to be harvested every 4 to 6 weeks during the warm season to produce high quality hay. However, the rainy weather from June to August often causes considerable delay in harvest resulting in poor quality hay or losses while attempting to field dry the grass prior to baling.Suitabilit y Bermudagrasses will perform well on a wide range ofFertility and age of forage are the two most important flatwoods and upland soils; however, bermudagrass doesfactors affecting the quality of hay. Fertilizer should be not perform well on poorly drained flatwood soils. Theapplied according to soil test recommendations. Two or 3 production of hay on new ground requires all sticks, roots,yearly applications of nitrogen and potash are required. etc., be removed so the mower can operate mostPhosphorus and micronutrients may be applied in a single efficiently. The soil pH should be adjusted to 5.8 orapplication in the spring. higher before planting. Once the bermudagrasses are established, they can be utilized for hay for several yearsHerbicides are available to control most broadleaf and with application of lime and fertilizer.grass weeds for 6 to 12 weeks when applied immediately Bermudagrasses will not make little root growthestablishment may result in failure to obtain a stand. before soil temperatures reach 60 F. However, leafAlso, a potential bermudagrass hay producer should be growth of bermudagrass will start at temperatures aroundsure to determine what and when herbicides have been 55 F. Bermudagrasses, unlike the bahia and digitgrasses,used on the acreage previously to see if the same will continue producing forage into the fall at a moderateherbicides are compatible with bermudagrass. rate until frost. They also start growth earlier in the spring, if moisture and fertility are available.Bermudagrasses will perform best when a 4-6 week growth period may be shortened by 1 week during JulyPlantin g SituationBermudagrass varieties include Alicia, Coastal, Coastcross-1, Callie, Grazer, Tifton 44, Tifton 78 and Tifton 85. Plantings from sprigs may be made from mid-February through July. Plantings made from vegetative cuttings are usually made from early May through July. Alicia, Coastal and Tifton 85 bermudagrasses can be established from sprigs or top cuttings, but Tifton 44 and Tifton 78 should be established from sprigs. Callie and Coastcross-1 produce few rhizomes and must be established from green cuttings.Cultural Pro g ramArmyworms may be a problem during periods of drought. Little damage will be noted if frequent cuttings are made. Spittlebugs may also cause damage; however, the best control is frequent cutting to a short stubble height to eliminate a buildup of a mat of forage. Burning bermudagrass fields in February also helps control spittlebugs if a dense mat of forage has been allowed to accumulate. Insecticides are available for armyworm (in the young stages) if necessary. after sprigging or planting. Lack of weed control during growth period is allowed between cuttings. However, this and August. This treatment provides high yields of good quality hay, in addition to increased persistence. Animal intake is higher and gain per animal is greater with frequent cuttings. Hybrid bermudagrasses are quite competitive with common bermudagrass and may be planted on land contaminated with common bermudagrass if thorough site preparation is used.