• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Introduction
 Land choice, clearing and...
 Planting grass
 Lime and fertilizer
 Management and utilization
 Grass varieties
 Planting and maintaining grass...














Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations ; 484A
Title: Grass pastures in Central Florida
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00026538/00001
 Material Information
Title: Grass pastures in Central Florida
Series Title: Bulletin Experiment Stations
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Hodges, E. M ( Elver M )
Jones, D. W ( David W. ), 1918-
Kirk, W. Gordon ( William Gordon ), 1898-1979
Publisher: University of Florida, Agricultural Experiment Stations
Place of Publication: Gainesville Florida
Publication Date: 1958
 Subjects
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: By E.M. Hodges, D.W. Jones and W.G. Kirk.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00026538
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000925744
notis - AEN6400

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
    Table of Contents
        Page 2
    Introduction
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Land choice, clearing and preparation
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Planting grass
        Page 7
        Page 6
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
    Lime and fertilizer
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 11
        Page 16
        Page 17
    Management and utilization
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 17
        Page 23
    Grass varieties
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
    Planting and maintaining grass pastures
        Page 30
Full Text



Bulletin 484A


(Originally printed November 1951)



UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


Sub-Tropical Experi- '
Route 1, Box 56(
Homestead, Florid


AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATIONS
J. R. BECKENBACH, Director
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA
(A Contribution from the Range Cattle Station)













Grass Pastures in Central Florida


E. M. HODGES, D. W. JONES and W. G. KIRK



















Single copies free to Florida residents on request to
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA


September 1958










CONTENTS


S3


INTRODUCTION .........-.......... .......... ..-...
LAND CHOICE, CLEARING AND PREPARATION
Choice .............. ..- ..... ....-
Clearing .................. .............. --.......
Preparation ....... ..-.. --....... ..
PLANTING GRASS ......... .. .....................
Date of Planting ..... .......
Seed ....................... ---.. .. ..
Vegetative Plantings ..........................
Vegetative Planting Plots ..-..-...........
Scattering Seed and Stems .........-
Coverage ................ ............. ....
Packing .......- ....... ---. .. ..... .. ..


6
... ..--- ...- ....- ..-...
... ... ....-- ..-- ..- ..... ...- ..- .. ..... .- .. 5
.... ... ... ....... .......... --. .... ... ... 5

.. .. .. .... --.... .......- ... ......-- .- 6
.-.- ----. --.-.-.-. ..- .. .. .---.. .. ...---- .. 6
.. . ... -.... .....- .-.-...-.-.-- -.-.-.- 7
.-..................--- ...-.. ..-- ... .- .... 7
....... ....... .. . .. ..--. ..- .. .. .... ... 8
. ....... -.--.. ---. ...... ....... --- .- ... 9
........... ----.........-- ...--- ...-- ..- 10
................................... ...... ..... .. .. 1 0


LIME AND FERTILIZER ................. .......... .........---- ... ...... 11
Lim e ................ -.... .........-- .... ........................ -- ... ..--- .... ...--- ...---- 11
Fertilizer ......... .. ............................ .... -- --- ..-. ..... 12
N nitrogen ................ ...... ...... --........ .. ..... ....- 12
Phosphorus ......... ... ....................... ..... .... .....- .. 12
Potassium ...... -. ---....... .--.. -..- .........-- ----....-... ...... 13
Minor elements ............... .-...................- .....- ....----- 13
Single elements and unbalanced fertilization ........................... ..... 14
Fertilizer form ulas ........................................ .. --- .... ------ ..... 14
Fertilizing new plantings .. ................. ....... ..--------- .. .. 14
Treatment for established grass ..............---.-.--...- ..------ 14
Time of fertilization ............-----.---.----........-.......... 15
Spreading fertilizer and lime .............- ...-.....................- .. .. 15
Disking and fertilization -...................-.....-- ....-- -------- ... -- 16
MANAGEMENT AND UTILIZATION .............-.-.-.....-.. -- ..- 17
Fencing ......... ...........-....-...- .... --. ----... ............. 17
Managing Young Grass ........ ................. ...... ...--- ... .. ....- 18
Pasture Productivity ............... -....... .......... .... ............ 18
Feeding Concentrates on Pasture ...-............................... .. 19
Improved and Native Pasture Work Well Together ......................... 20
Frost Resistance and Grazing Value .....................-............. -..- .--- 21
M mineral Supplem ents ...................... ...... .... ..... .. -.....-. ....- ...- 22
H ay and Silage .................................... ...... .. ..... 22
Pasture Insects ......................................... .........- ...... ..-- ...--. 22
Army Worms and Grass Worms -......... ......------ .. ..------ .--.. -....... 22
Aphids .................. ...........- ......................... .-- 23
Other Insects ............- .......-... ..... -.......- ....- ......--- 24
Insecticide Residues ........ .......-............ ... ... .. .. 24
GRASS VARIETIES ................................. ---. -----.. .. 24
B ahia ........ ........ ... ..................... ........ ..... --- .... .. 24
Berm uda ...... ...... -..............-- ........ ...--- ... ..- 25
Carpet .......... ......~. .. ... ....... .. --. ...... ......... ..- -- 26
Cogon ... ..........- ...... ............... -- .....-.- .- ....----..--- .- -. .. 26
Fescue, Kentucky 31 and Alta -.........~. .. ........ ...---- .... 27
Pangola .......... .... .. ........... ..... ............ .... ..-...- 27
Para ..-............................ .. ............... ........ ....--- .. 27
Carib ...- .... .................... .. ---...-..................-..- 28
R hodes -.................. -............ .. ....................--- 28
St. Augustine ....... .----....... .. .... .. --. ...--- ..... ...- 28
Ryegrass ............... ....... ......... ... ... .-----.......- -......-- 28
Torpedo .--. -- ---..--... .... .. ...... ....... 29
Vasey --...... ............ ...- ................... ...-......--- ... -----.. .... 29
Other Grasses ...... .......... ........ ........--- .- ... ... 29


PLANTING AND MAINTAINING GRASS PASTURES ....


.... .... .... .- ..-- ..--- 30









Grass Pastures in Central Florida

E. M. HODGES, D. W. JONES and W. G. KIRK

Introduction
Pasture improvement has progressed from an unknown and
questionable innovation to a sound practice giving full value to
the livestock industry. A major factor in the future of Florida
cattle is the continuing development and use of productive and
nutritious pastures.
While new grasses and planted pastures are increasingly
important, the native range continues to be a vital part of the
Florida beef cattle business. Some cattle are kept on improved
pasture continuously, but many of them have access to native
grazing land during at least part of the year. Many skillful and
experienced ranchers are maintaining their herds, at a profit,
entirely on native grazing land. The carrying capacity of an
area may be increased by improving part of it to be used for
winter grazing. When this is done, planted and fertilized pas-
tures should be managed to supply feed when the native range
is poorest. This method of handling yields substantial returns

Fig. 1.-Calves sired by Brahman and Shorthorn bulls grazed mixed
Carpet-Bahia pasture in October. Grass should be reserved to supply
enough roughage during fall and winter.

S,_Il k






Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


from improved pasture and permits more efficient use of native
land. Fall weaning of calves (Fig. 1) is an instance where high
quality grazing has special value.
Most improved pastures in central Florida are devoted to
beef production, but dairymen are becoming aware of the value
of high quality pasture for reducing feed costs and maintaining
the health of cattle.
Pasture improvement is a long-term project. It should re-
ceive careful planning and not be entered into either hastily or
without serious consideration of the problems involved. Up-
keep, as well as initial cost, needs to be considered, since adequate
financing is an essential part of a pasture plan.
Both practical experience and technical information are avail-
able in pasture improvement work. The 1948 USDA Yearbook
contains much information on grasses for all parts of the United
States. Annual reports of the Florida Agricultural Experiment
Stations contain data not yet published elsewhere. Station Bul-
letins 506R, 515, 517, 581 and 585 furnish information on fertili-
zation and utilization of improved pastures. Circulars and mim-
eographed materials are available on certain phases of this topic.
Local agricultural agencies and cattlemen who have established
pastures should be consulted when making plans to plant im-
proved grasses. The practices recommended here are general
and may be modified to meet individual situations.

Land Choice, Clearing and Preparation
Choice.-To produce the most feed and highest returns from
pastures, select the best soil available. Planting pasture on
drouthy or poorly drained land usually is poor business. Even
a medium-cost practice such as chopping for palmetto control
is of doubtful value on an inferior area.
Location of water supplies, drainage ditches and fences will
influence the choice of land for intensive pasture improvement.
Convenience of management is very important and should be
considered in picking a suitable area. The cost of comparatively
small items, such as a fence or an easily replaceable well, should
not outweigh convenience of management in selecting a site.
Most ranches have land which is both conveniently located
and reasonably well suited for improvement purposes. With
new grass varieties and improved practices, productive pastures
are being established on locations varying from high, dry, sandy
soil to low lands subject to brief flooding during heavy rainfall.






Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


from improved pasture and permits more efficient use of native
land. Fall weaning of calves (Fig. 1) is an instance where high
quality grazing has special value.
Most improved pastures in central Florida are devoted to
beef production, but dairymen are becoming aware of the value
of high quality pasture for reducing feed costs and maintaining
the health of cattle.
Pasture improvement is a long-term project. It should re-
ceive careful planning and not be entered into either hastily or
without serious consideration of the problems involved. Up-
keep, as well as initial cost, needs to be considered, since adequate
financing is an essential part of a pasture plan.
Both practical experience and technical information are avail-
able in pasture improvement work. The 1948 USDA Yearbook
contains much information on grasses for all parts of the United
States. Annual reports of the Florida Agricultural Experiment
Stations contain data not yet published elsewhere. Station Bul-
letins 506R, 515, 517, 581 and 585 furnish information on fertili-
zation and utilization of improved pastures. Circulars and mim-
eographed materials are available on certain phases of this topic.
Local agricultural agencies and cattlemen who have established
pastures should be consulted when making plans to plant im-
proved grasses. The practices recommended here are general
and may be modified to meet individual situations.

Land Choice, Clearing and Preparation
Choice.-To produce the most feed and highest returns from
pastures, select the best soil available. Planting pasture on
drouthy or poorly drained land usually is poor business. Even
a medium-cost practice such as chopping for palmetto control
is of doubtful value on an inferior area.
Location of water supplies, drainage ditches and fences will
influence the choice of land for intensive pasture improvement.
Convenience of management is very important and should be
considered in picking a suitable area. The cost of comparatively
small items, such as a fence or an easily replaceable well, should
not outweigh convenience of management in selecting a site.
Most ranches have land which is both conveniently located
and reasonably well suited for improvement purposes. With
new grass varieties and improved practices, productive pastures
are being established on locations varying from high, dry, sandy
soil to low lands subject to brief flooding during heavy rainfall.







Grass Pastures in Central Florida


Clearing.-Stumps are a serious nuisance on land to be planted
to pasture. They mar the appearance of the range, slow down
tractor work and cause machinery breakage. Clearing land for
farming ahead of pasture planting and salvaging the stumps
will reduce the pasture cost.
Some of the most productive land is covered with trees and
dense underbrush. Although the natural fertility of such areas
is high, the expense of clearing often is prohibitive. Where
hammock land adjoins improved areas or is near pens and ranch
buildings it may be desirable to clear it for pasture. Some
densely covered places are cleared to help in gathering cattle.
In preparing land, ranchers often remove every tree and bush,
and with them go all shade and shelter for cattle and cover for
wildlife. Well-placed clumps of trees add to the value and ap-
pearance of a pasture and should be left for shade.
Preparation.-The purpose of land preparation is two-fold:
1, destruction of native growth and 2, formation of a firm, mellow
seedbed. Palmetto growth presents the most serious land prep-
aration problem in many places in this state. Only the heaviest
disks and plows will kill this plant. Special sweep blades are
being used to cut under the palmetto stem on prairie land and,
to an increasing extent, on cut-over areas. This machine, known
as a Webb plow, permits 100 percent killing of palmetto. Unless
the original preparation is thorough, and surviving plants are
chopped or mowed, palmetto will come back in a pasture. Chemi-
cals to kill palmetto are being tested with some success. See
1957 Annual Report.
The only satisfactory time to get land in shape for grass is
before planting. Incomplete preparation will produce a rough
surface with too many weeds and a slow start of grass, and will
raise the final cost. Twice over with a heavy tandem disk fol-
lowed by a medium disk is standard land preparation. This may
leave the site rough and needing more cutting and levelling.
An excellent seedbed may be obtained by first cutting with
a heavy chopper and following with a disk. This reduces the
ridging effect often produced by disking and gives effective con-
trol of native plants. When a chopper is used for all the prepara-
tion it is necessary to go over the land more times than when
the disk is employed.
About six inches is a feasible depth to work land in preparing
for pasture. Excessive depth should be avoided and heavy pas-
ture equipment won't work satisfactorily at a shallower depth,






Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


especially if palmetto and other large plants are to be destroyed.
Deeper stirring of the ground allows extensive surface drying
and, on thin land, mixes the surface layer too much with the
sand beneath.
Regardless of the machine used, the best stand and growth
of grass are obtained when initial clearing of the land is done
6 to 12 months before planting. Several months should elapse
between first cutting and final seedbed preparation near planting
time. Grass planted in turfy, freshly cut land does not make
efficient use of fertilizer and may get off to a bad start.
Land cleared for improved pasture more than a year before
planting often becomes infested with annual grasses and weeds
and the plant food released when the sod is broken nourishes
undesirable plants or is lost through leaching.

Planting Grass
In establishing improved pastures, landowners should follow
proven, satisfactory methods. Careful attention to soil mois-
ture, seed quality and coverage will help avoid failures in plant-
ing grass. Failures caused by unsatisfactory methods have dis-
couraged many cattlemen who were just starting to produce
better pastures. Such losses can be avoided.
Date of Planting.-The planting date in central Florida is
determined by: 1, soil, well prepared and moist; 2, planting
material, either seed or vegetation, available; 3, men and equip-
ment ready to do the job.
A plentiful supply of soil moisture at planting time is the
best possible guarantee of a good stand of grass, whether set by
vegetative parts or from seed. Planting at the onset of the
rainy season, when a long, dry season is least likely, is the most
reliable practice. Scalding and loss of young plants in the
summer rains are seldom serious problems if fertility and lime
conditions are good. However, excellent results can be obtained
in this area from fall and winter planting if the soil is moist
and well prepared. Grass planted on land that has been broken
for several months suffers less from drouth than that on turfy,
newly cut ground.
Planting improved grasses on old crop land has been gen-
erally disappointing. When old field land is put into pasture it
should be planted in the fall because the risk of dry weather is
partially offset by lower temperatures which reduce growth of
weeds and give new grass a chance to get started.







Grass Pastures in Central Florida


Seed.-Most pasture grasses that have been in use for sev-
eral years are grown from seed. Only seed having a high per-
centage of germination and purity should be used. Planting
rates for some of the common varieties are shown in Table 1.

TABLE 1.-SEEDING RATES OF PASTURE GRASSES
Rate per Acre
Variety Pounds

Carpet .................... 5-10
Pensacola Bahia .. ................... .... -........ -10
Argentine Bahia .............. ....................... ... -- ..---- 10-12
Common Bermuda ..... .... ..... ....... 5-10
Lovegrass .............~....- .....-.. .. ... ...... .. -- -- 1-2

Vegetative Plantings.-Many grasses produce sprouts and
roots when underground and upright stems, crowns and sur-
face runners are partially buried in moist ground. Several
varieties that produce no seed and can be planted only by veg-
etative parts have been found desirable for pasture use in recent
years.
Grass roots themselves cannot produce new plants, but under-
ground runners or rhizomes of the Tifton Bermudas and Torpedo-
grass make excellent planting material. These rhizomes and
the stubby, ground-level stems that make up the crown of the
plant do not dry out as quickly as the leafy, upright stems.
They are, however, much more difficult to obtain and require
either excessive hand labor or special equipment to plant a large
area. Crowns and rhizomes can be used when top growth is not
available, thus lengthening the planting season.
Mowing Pangola or improved Bermuda when it is about two
feet high is the most widely used means of obtaining vegetative
plantings (Fig. 2). Young, fine stems or extremely green, suc-
culent growth dry out quickly and are not as suitable for plant-
ing as coarser, more mature stems. However, stems more than
two feet high often become tangled and difficult to mow and
spread. A mower in good mechanical condition is required for
harvesting grass-planting material. Mechanization should be
carried as far as practicable when green cuttings are to be
planted.
Spring-tooth harrows and ordinary hay rakes can be used to
obtain Pangola surface runners or stolons for planting. Pangola
crowns are excellent for winter or spring planting, but special
equipment is needed to loosen and gather them.






Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


especially if palmetto and other large plants are to be destroyed.
Deeper stirring of the ground allows extensive surface drying
and, on thin land, mixes the surface layer too much with the
sand beneath.
Regardless of the machine used, the best stand and growth
of grass are obtained when initial clearing of the land is done
6 to 12 months before planting. Several months should elapse
between first cutting and final seedbed preparation near planting
time. Grass planted in turfy, freshly cut land does not make
efficient use of fertilizer and may get off to a bad start.
Land cleared for improved pasture more than a year before
planting often becomes infested with annual grasses and weeds
and the plant food released when the sod is broken nourishes
undesirable plants or is lost through leaching.

Planting Grass
In establishing improved pastures, landowners should follow
proven, satisfactory methods. Careful attention to soil mois-
ture, seed quality and coverage will help avoid failures in plant-
ing grass. Failures caused by unsatisfactory methods have dis-
couraged many cattlemen who were just starting to produce
better pastures. Such losses can be avoided.
Date of Planting.-The planting date in central Florida is
determined by: 1, soil, well prepared and moist; 2, planting
material, either seed or vegetation, available; 3, men and equip-
ment ready to do the job.
A plentiful supply of soil moisture at planting time is the
best possible guarantee of a good stand of grass, whether set by
vegetative parts or from seed. Planting at the onset of the
rainy season, when a long, dry season is least likely, is the most
reliable practice. Scalding and loss of young plants in the
summer rains are seldom serious problems if fertility and lime
conditions are good. However, excellent results can be obtained
in this area from fall and winter planting if the soil is moist
and well prepared. Grass planted on land that has been broken
for several months suffers less from drouth than that on turfy,
newly cut ground.
Planting improved grasses on old crop land has been gen-
erally disappointing. When old field land is put into pasture it
should be planted in the fall because the risk of dry weather is
partially offset by lower temperatures which reduce growth of
weeds and give new grass a chance to get started.






Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


Vegetative Planting Plots.-To develop pastures from vege-
tatively propagated grass, the nursery plot should be planted a
year in advance. If possible, locate the plot on land not pre-
viously cultivated. Many plots set on old land have produced
unsatisfactory materials because the first mowings were mixed
with weeds and undesirable grasses.
Seed plots should be treated with at least 500 pounds per
acre of 8-8-8 or a similar complete fertilizer two or three months
before harvesting for planting. For instance, grass fertilized
in February should be ready to cut for planting in May, if the
weather is warm and moist. Spring drouth, however, frequently
delays growth until June or even later.
Mowing and removing all of the grass from an area for either
planting or hay, is a heavy drain on soil fertility. Unless the
necessary elements are replaced by fertilization, the next cutting
may be sharply reduced. When one or more crops of grass have
been removed and rapid growth is desired, an increased rate of
nitrogen may be necessary. However, excessive fertilization of

Fig. 2.-Mowing and loading Pangola for planting. Too tall for
easy handling, this grass nevertheless was excellent for planting.







Grass Pastures in Central Florida


seed blocks will produce leafy, succulent grass that does not
root as well as firm, stemmy grass.
Light crops of grass may be harvested from four to six
months after planting, but full production seldom is obtained
in less than a year. At peak growth, a single cutting from one
acre of thick grass will provide about 10 tons of green material,
enough to plant 20 acres of pasture.
Vegetative material has been planted at widely varying rates
per acre. One thousand pounds of clean grass to the acre usually
is sufficient and half that amount will produce a stand if care-
fully scattered under favorable conditions. The planting rate
should be tripled, however, on old farm land where the soil is
infested with weeds. Bunching or scattering too much material
in one place has resulted only in a waste of grass.
Landowners who cannot raise their own grass for vegetative
materials should make advance arrangements to buy cuttings.
If possible, the grass should be bought from a local source. This
reduces the delay between cutting and planting and allows the
rancher to work when weather conditions are favorable.
Scattering Seed and Stems.-Ways of planting grass vary
from hand methods to scattering seed from airplanes. Probably
the best job is done by a mechanical seeder operating on top
of a packer or roller, but thousands of acres have been seeded
satisfactorily with hand-cranked seeders carried on foot, horse-
back or jeep.
Most grass planted from vegetative parts has been thrown
by hand from a truck driven through the field ahead of covering
machinery. Manure spreaders have been used with limited
success, but this method is more expensive, calling for added
equipment and saving little, if any, labor. This method has
produced reasonably uniform stands on large acreages.
An efficient device for planting grass is a tractor with a plat-
form bolted on front to carry planting material and men, and
pulling covering and packing machinery. This arrangement
makes it easy to get uniform distribution of grass and eliminates
drying of stems in the field. (Fig. 3). A single tractor unit
can plant from 10 to 15 acres a day, depending on the width of
the planting equipment.
Several implements permitting workmen to feed grass into
furrows have been built. The devices also plant, cover and pack
in one operation, giving good results on well-prepared areas.







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


More rugged equipment of similar design could be used on any
land to economize on planting material and power.
Coverage.-Many pasture plantings, particularly Bahia varie-
ties, have failed because seed was thrown on the ground and left
uncovered. Seed broadcast on freshly disked land can be covered
by a packer. If the soil surface becomes firm before the seed
is sown, light harrowing or disking is required.
Crowns and rhizomes may be cut into the ground with any
type of disk, but green hay cuttings are best covered by a heavy
one, with blades set at a slight angle. This presses the stems
into moist soil without burying them deeply enough to damage
the stand if planting is followed by excessively wet weather.
Choppers have been used with fair success, and any method of
coverage does well if moisture conditions are ideal. Vegetative
plantings will root without being covered when rain is constant.
Packing.-Sandy soils particularly need packing, even if they
are moist when disked or plowed. Surface soil will dry in a few
days if left in a turfy, loosened condition, causing damage to
grass seedlings and sprouted stems. Firming the soil with a
packer encourages quick germination and rooting, reduces loss
of surface moisture, and makes planting safe at times when the
soil would otherwise be too dry. Ridges and holes should be
Fig. 3.-Scattering vegetative material from a tractor-mounted plat-
form. A seven-foot disk with 24-inch blades and followed by a cultipacker
completes the planting operation. The box seen mounted above the rolls
of the cultipacker is used for sowing seed.







Grass Pastures in Central Florida


eliminated before or at planting time, since smoothing them,
once the pasture is covered with a grass sod, is difficult and
expensive. In addition, a smooth surface reduces the cost of
fertilizing, mowing and chopping by permitting higher machine
speeds with less breakage.
Some packing machinery available for pasture work is not
rugged enough for central Florida conditions. However, im-
provements are being made and, with constant repair, the pres-
ent models can be operated satisfactorily. Some home-made
rollers are being used with good results. The Florida pasture
improvement program should make increasing use of soil pack-
ing and leveling equipment.

Lime and Fertilizer
Any attempt to produce good pasture without regard to soil
fertility requirements is a mistake and can result only in failure.
Most sandy land is low in plant food and the necessary elements
must be added to produce satisfactory growth. More feed per
dollar of cost can be made on pastures well managed and ferti-
lized than from large acreages where plant foods are neglected.
Lime.-Most central Florida soils are acid, having a pH of
4.0 to 5.0, and require the addition of lime when used for im-
proved pasture. Finely ground calcic and dolomitic limestone
are the materials most commonly used, with cost being the
determining factor. If magnesium is a limiting element in
pasture growth, however, dolomitic lime should be used. Other
soil conditioners, such as marl, may be useful in locations where
transportation or local supply make them desirable. Coarse
lime materials must be applied at very heavy rates to be effective.
They cannot be recommended for general use because costs of
hauling and spreading are so high that the saving on low pur-
chase and long life of the treatment is lost.
Uniform recommendations for use of lime are impossible
because of soil differences. However, one ton per acre of ground
limestone will bring most sandy soils up a full unit in the pH
scale. Starting with a pH of 4.5 to 5.0, this results in a final
reading of 5.5 or higher, which is satisfactory for grass produc-
tion. One-half ton of lime may be used at an original pH of 5.0.
Light rates of lime ordinarily are not recommended because one-
ton-per-acre treatment lasts longer and permits a reduction in
spreading costs. After four to five years of heavy production,
the pH of the surface soil will drop below 4.8 to 5.0 and it will







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


be necessary to add more lime. Bahia and Bermuda varieties
have a higher lime requirement than Pangola and Torpedo
grasses. The latter two grasses will establish stands at low
lime levels but growth and mineral content will be increased
by lime.
Fertilizer.-Lime is necessary for the most economical pro-
duction of pasture on very acid land, but fertilizer materials
must be supplied also for full benefit. Pangola and other grasses
in good condition for grazing contain, on a dry-weight basis, at
least 1.00 percent nitrogen (N), 0.25 percent phosphorus (P)
and 1.0 percent potassium (K), as well as varying amounts of
other elements. If any of these materials are lacking the yield
and feeding value of pasture grass are lowered.
Nitrogen.-Nitrogen is included in the fertilizer mixture to
increase growth and improve feed quality. Its relatively high
cost has encouraged the use of low percentages of the element
in pasture fertilizer mixtures. However, substitution of other
materials for nitrogen should be avoided, since pasture value is
largely dependent upon an adequate supply of this element.
Fertilizer nitrogen is obtained from two general sources: 1,
inorganic compounds, including nitrate of soda, sulfate of am-
monia, ammoniated superphosphate, ammonium nitrate and
others; 2, organic materials such as tankage, castor pomace,
tobacco stems, urea and calcium cyanamid. A form of nitrogen
known as anhydrous ammonia is used extensively in field crop
production, and its value for pasture is now being investigated.
Organic materials, except urea and cyanamid, supply nitrogen
for plant use over a longer time than most inorganic sources.
They also help prevent fertilizer mixtures from becoming hard
and lumpy. However, organic nitrogen obtained from plant and
animal substances is more costly per unit and should be used
sparingly, if at all, in pasture fertilizers. Natural organic ma-
terials, supplying 5 to 10 percent of the total N in the mixture,
may be used to improve the mechanical condition of a mixed
fertilizer when a delay between mixing and distribution is likely.
Mixed fertilizers containing no nitrogen from plant or animal
sources are now being used on most pastures.
Phosphorus.-This element is necessary for the structure of
plant cells and growth of animals. With few exceptions, virgin
soils in central Florida are deficient in this important nutrient.
Both finely ground raw rock phosphate and superphosphate
have been used extensively in pasture fertilization. Rock phos-






Grass Pastures in Central Florida


phate is particularly adapted to acid soil, while superphosphate
should not be used on acid land without lime additions.
Potassium.-This element is necessary for growth and makes
up an important part of the plant. Muriate of potash (KC1) is
the principal source of fertilizer potassium here. Most Florida
soils are lacking in potassium, making an upkeep program essen-
tial for a heavy producing pasture.
Minor Elements.-Minor elements, such as copper, manganese
and zinc, encourage more rapid establishment and larger pro-
duction. Copper is most commonly lacking in the soils of pen-
insular Florida. Pasture not previously fertilized should be
treated with the equivalent of 15 pounds of copper sulfate per
acre unless local experience shows this to be unnecessary. Old
farm land may contain enough secondary elements to satisfy
the needs of pasture grass. These materials should be mixed
and distributed with other plant nutrients. Fertilizer containing
minor elements should be spread as soon as possible after mixing
to avoid its becoming lumpy and wet.

Fig. 4.-Minor elements added to a complete fertilizer and lime treat-
ment made the difference between the full stand of Pensacola Bahia on the
right and the thin, weedy stand on the left. Photographed one year after
planting.






Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


Carpet grass and the Bahias have made better growth when
treated with 15 pounds each of copper and manganese sulfate
and 10 pounds of zinc sulfate per acre than when treated with
copper only (Fig. 4). Pangola is most likely to be limited by a
shortage of copper, while the Bermuda varieties give little or no
response to minor elements on sandy land. Torpedo grass pas-
tures have been established in many places without the addition
of copper or any other secondary element. Observations at the
Range Cattle Station at Ona show that the effects of minor ele-
ments last four to six years.
Single Element and Unbalanced Fertilization.-Since most
sandy soils are low in all plant food elements, strong responses
often are obtained from treatment with one fertilizer material,
such as lime or phosphate. However, even though unbalanced
treatments do produce clearly visible benefits, a pasture fertiliza-
tion plan that supplies some plant foods while others remain
seriously deficient has small chance for success and is poor
economy. Feed production is most economical where all plant
food requirements of the grass are provided in balanced amounts.
Fertilizer Formulas.-Mixed fertilizers are commonly de-
scribed by formula numbers such as 9-6-6 or 8-8-8. These figures
show the percentages of available plant food contained in the
mixture, with nitrogen (N) listed first, phosphoric acid (P205)
second and potash (K20) third. These are expressed in a form
required by Florida law and are always shown in the above order.
Slightly different mixtures having similar percentage formulas
will produce similar results on pastures.
Fertilizing New Plantings.-Newly-planted seed or vegetative
material on virgin land should receive 250 to 300 pounds per
acre of 8-8-8 or a similar mixture at planting time. Heavier
rates at planting are wasteful, since time is required for a sod to
form and the grass does not use much fertilizer in the early
weeks of growth.
Treatment for Established Grass.-Thick sods use more plant
food than new seedings and should be fertilized at increased
rates and with more nitrogen. Complete mixtures, such as
9-6-6 or 12-6-6, applied at 400 to 500 pounds per acre give good
results. These treatments can be repeated during the same year
to give more intensive production or similar rates of 8-8-8 alter-
nated with 30 to 50 pounds per acre of nitrogen may be substi-
tuted.






Grass Pastures in Central Florida


Time of Fertilization.-New pastures should be fertilized at
planting time unless the land is known to have enough natural
fertility to give young plants a good start. High hammock soils
and much of the better citrus-type soil will permit grasses to
make a good stand without added fertilizer. Benefits are often
obtained from fertilization even on these areas. Improved grass
on most flatwoods soils requires fertilizer as soon as planted.
Failure to fertilize immediately after or just before the grass is
planted on such land has been responsible for many failures.
Pasture grass makes most efficient use of fertilizer applied
during warm weather on soil that is moist but not flooded. Some
fertilizer is lost when heavy rains follow immediately after
application. Grass grows very little during cool or excessively
dry weather and only limited benefit is received from fertiliza-
tion at such times.
The best quality grass is produced during the first two months
after fertilization. February is the time to treat the pasture
for best early spring grazing. Fall growth is stimulated by fer-
tilizing during August or early September if the surface soil
is not flooded. The longer warm weather continues into fall, the
more growth occurs from late applications of fertilizer. Spring
applications produce the most growth during the year, but fall
treatment is valuable for winter grazing purposes.
Establishment of improved pastures is expensive and should
be followed by well-planned fertilization and management. Any
departure from this policy results in a sharp reduction in grass
growth and feeding value. The minimum annual treatment
should include a high-nitrogen complete fertilizer supplying 30
to 50 pounds of nitrogen. Part of the pasture area should be
treated in the spring, the rest in the fall. Time of fertilization
gives the cattleman a partial control over the season at which
forage will be available. This ability to influence time of forage
production has a cash value which must be utilized if a full re-
turn is to be obtained from the fertilizer dollar. Fertilization
in both spring and fall will increase forage production and im-
prove feeding quality. One application of a complete fertilizer
and one of a nitrogen fertilizer, using 30-50 pounds per acre of
N in each treatment, make a good combination. A fertilizer
supplying nitrogen only should never be used on soil that is low
in other plant food elements.
Spreading Fertilizer and Lime.--Both drop and centrifugal
type lime and fertilizer spreaders are being used in pasture







Grass Pastures in Central Florida


eliminated before or at planting time, since smoothing them,
once the pasture is covered with a grass sod, is difficult and
expensive. In addition, a smooth surface reduces the cost of
fertilizing, mowing and chopping by permitting higher machine
speeds with less breakage.
Some packing machinery available for pasture work is not
rugged enough for central Florida conditions. However, im-
provements are being made and, with constant repair, the pres-
ent models can be operated satisfactorily. Some home-made
rollers are being used with good results. The Florida pasture
improvement program should make increasing use of soil pack-
ing and leveling equipment.

Lime and Fertilizer
Any attempt to produce good pasture without regard to soil
fertility requirements is a mistake and can result only in failure.
Most sandy land is low in plant food and the necessary elements
must be added to produce satisfactory growth. More feed per
dollar of cost can be made on pastures well managed and ferti-
lized than from large acreages where plant foods are neglected.
Lime.-Most central Florida soils are acid, having a pH of
4.0 to 5.0, and require the addition of lime when used for im-
proved pasture. Finely ground calcic and dolomitic limestone
are the materials most commonly used, with cost being the
determining factor. If magnesium is a limiting element in
pasture growth, however, dolomitic lime should be used. Other
soil conditioners, such as marl, may be useful in locations where
transportation or local supply make them desirable. Coarse
lime materials must be applied at very heavy rates to be effective.
They cannot be recommended for general use because costs of
hauling and spreading are so high that the saving on low pur-
chase and long life of the treatment is lost.
Uniform recommendations for use of lime are impossible
because of soil differences. However, one ton per acre of ground
limestone will bring most sandy soils up a full unit in the pH
scale. Starting with a pH of 4.5 to 5.0, this results in a final
reading of 5.5 or higher, which is satisfactory for grass produc-
tion. One-half ton of lime may be used at an original pH of 5.0.
Light rates of lime ordinarily are not recommended because one-
ton-per-acre treatment lasts longer and permits a reduction in
spreading costs. After four to five years of heavy production,
the pH of the surface soil will drop below 4.8 to 5.0 and it will







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


improvement. The drop type (Fig. 5) feeds lime or fertilizer
by a gear or agitator through a series of holes directly to the
ground. The centrifugal spreader pours the material onto a
rotating horizontal disc with ridges that throw the particles out
fan-wise (Fig. 6). Many ranches own tractor-drawn spread-
ers although most custom work is done with spreader trucks.
Spreading equipment needs careful upkeep and operation if it is
to put out accurate rates. This is of added importance when
100-200 pound per acre rates are needed. Constant supervision
by a competent individual is the only guarantee of satisfactory
application. Uniformity of fertilizer application is of the utmost
importance in pasture improvement. An untreated strip may
show up in a pasture for several years and areas receiving ex-
cessively heavy rates represent a waste of material.
Lime and fertilizer do not require disking for mixing with
sandy soils. When applied to newly-worked land, they are
mixed with the soil by planting and packing operations, and
stirring them into a sod of improved grass may delay growth
several weeks.
Disking and Fertilization.-Many pasture grasses form a
thick layer of roots and runners after being established two to

Fig. 5.-Distributing fertilizer with a drop-type spreader. At 500
pounds per acre this outfit can cover 25 acres a day on well-prepared
land.








-6







Grass Pastures in Central Florida


four years. Production is often reduced and the grass is called
"sod bound". This is usually the result of a lack of plant food and
may be largely corrected by fertilization. It is commonly thought
that grazing cattle cause soil compaction and reduce pasture
productivity but there is no evidence of this on extremely sandy
soils. Disking will stimulate a sod of Bermuda, Torpedo or Para
to make renewed growth. This thins the stand and mixes stems
and roots into the soil and some nitrogen is released. The actual
cost of cultivation and levelling is high and similar expenditures
for plant food can be expected to yield equal or superior results.
Pangola grass heavily infested with weeds and poor grasses can
be renovated by thorough cultivation and fertilization. Culti-
vation of pastures having a clean stand of grass is not recom-
mended.
Management and Utilization
Fencing.-Fencing is essential to efficient and profitable use
of improved pasture. Cattle get the most value from improved
grass available when the need is greatest. Pasturage can be
accumulated for the winter period only by keeping stock off
during the latter part of the growing season. Furthermore, a
sod that is kept eaten down to the sand produces less feed than
one allowed to maintain two to six inches of growth, depending
on the variety of grass.

Fig. 6.-A centrifugal spreader working on an established pasture of
Pangola grass. This machine will cover more area than the drop-type
spreader and is better suited for use on rough land.







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


Cost of fence building must be considered in planning a pas-
ture improvement program. Efficient utilization permitted by
adequate fencing will more than offset the extra cost of pasture
division.
Managing Young Grass.-Animals should be kept off young
grass at least two months after spring and summer planting,
and much longer following cool-season planting. This is true
despite the fact that some pastures have had cattle on them
from the day they were planted without apparent injury. Most
grasses will start under moderate grazing, but the rate of spread
is reduced and weeds and undesirable grasses often take up part
of the pasture area. Heavy grazing should be delayed until the
land is completely sodded.
A mower or close-blade chopper may be used to control heavy
weed growth on new pasture. Maintenance machines should not
be used on new plantings unless the area is completely overgrown
by weeds. Chopping young grass before the ground is sodded
may delay the establishment of Pangola. All maintenance chop-
ping should be done when the soil is moist. A weedy stand of
runner-producing grass is usually improved by disking or chop-
ping when there is plenty of soil moisture. Heavy grazing,
followed by several weeks of protection to permit vigorous
growth, will help sod over a thin stand that is heavily infested
with weedy grasses.
Pasture Productivity.-Without doubt the most often asked
question about improved pasture is "How much is needed to
support a cow?" Since seasonal, soil, fertilizer and variety
differences affect the amount of feed produced by a pasture,
there is no general rule on the number of cattle that can be
fed on a certain area. Two acres of Pangola pasture on average
flatwoods soil at the Range Cattle Station fertilized with 500
pounds of complete fertilizer per acre yearly grazed a mature
cow throughout the year and her calf to six months of age,
with some feed to spare. The cows and calves on this pasture
during three years produced a net yearly beef gain of 150 pounds
per acre (Fig. 7). No supplemental feed was provided.
The same kind of pasture grazed by steers during the spring
and summer has yielded an average of 202 pounds of beef per
acre annually for three years. Most weight gain by steers is
made in the four months following spring fertilization. During
this time the grass depletes the supply of available plant food,
especially nitrogen, and gradually declines in feeding value. This








Grass Pastures in Central Florida


decreased value is characterized by a drop in protein content
of the grass. Steers on experimental pastures at the Range
Cattle Station usually reach their top weight in July and gain
little or no more, although plenty of grass remains. If the cattle
are marketed or moved to better pasture when maximum gains
are reached, the remaining grass may equal a ton or more of
hay per acre. This left-over grass, although comparatively low
in protein, furnishes satisfactory roughage for maintenance feed-
ing during fall and winter months. It is superior to native range
in feeding value for fall and winter use but requires a supple-
ment to produce growth or fattening.
Beef yield of grasses at the Range Cattle Station appears in
Table 2. All pastures received calcic lime and were fertilized
as follows: 1949-51, a single annual application in March; 1952-
54, equal amounts in March, May and August.
Feeding Concentrates on Pasture.-Supplementary feeding
may be desirable when pasture quality falls below the level
required for growth and fattening. Three trials with feeding
citrus pellets to yearling and two-year-old steers on Carpet grass
pasture and two trials on Common Bahia have been completed.
The first trial of 112 days with steers on Carpet grass was started
on July 12, 1948, and the second and third trials of 120 days,
including both Carpet and Common Bahia, were begun on Au-

Fig. 7.-Grade Brahman cows photographed April 1, 1949, after being
wintered entirely on Pangola, with no supplemental feed. This area sup-
ported cattle during the summer, then was fertilized in September and
left ungrazed until January.




b ,A







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


gust 6, 1949, and August 19, 1950. The citrus pellets, made up
of 40 pounds citrus meal, 35 pounds citrus molasses and 25
pounds cottonseed meal, contained 14 percent protein.

TABLE 2.-AVERAGE ANNUAL PER-ACRm BEEF GAINS ON DIFFERENT GRASSES
AT TWO FERTILITY LEVELS
Fertilizer Treatment
Grass 500 lbs. 6-6-6 900 lbs. 9-6-6
Variety Annually, 1949-51 Annually, 1952-54
Pounds Pounds
Carpet ....-...-- --..... ..........-...-........ 61 165
Common Bahia ----.....--................ ........ 74 149
Pensacola Bahia ...................... -..... 152 215
Argentine Bahia ...-.........-..............-- 102 (1951) 216
Coastal Bermuda ............................... 129 200
Torpedo --------..............-........ ............. 125 203
Pangola ....------..........- ................ ........ 202 338
Native --.....-- .... ..-........................ 58 (1951) 121


Average daily gain for the three trials of steers on Carpet
grass and receiving 7.7 pounds of pellets was 1.80 pounds, as
compared with 0.61 pounds for steers on the same kind of pas-
ture but getting no supplemental feed. Steers in two trials on
Common Bahia pasture made an average daily gain of 0.23
pounds, while those also fed 8.1 pounds of pellets daily gained
1.65 pounds.
Herbage low in protein loses palatability as well as nutri-
tional value, and cattle eat less per day. Supplying a protein
concentrate to cattle grazing on mature grass improves the
balance of the ration, stimulates the appetite and increases daily
gain. Increased daily gain permits carrying animals to a higher
market grade, and supplemental feeding allows cattlemen to
sell when the market is right rather than when pasture condi-
tions dictate. Low quality cattle or those having a nervous
disposition do not fit into a supplemental feeding plan.
Improved and Native Pasture Work Well Together.--Most
improved pasture in central Florida is grazed in combination
with large blocks of native range. This arrangement is most
valuable when planted grass is used to supply feed during win-
ter when native pasture is poorest. Grass can be provided for
winter grazing by keeping cattle off improved pasture during

1Jones, D. W., E. M. Hodges and W. G. Kirk. Year-Round Grazing On
a Combination of Native and Improved Pasture. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta., Bul.
554. 1954.







Grass Pastures in Central Florida


September, October and November. Pangola is the best grass
for winter use, but any improved variety may be used. Both
planted pasture and native grass will supply more winter feed
if left ungrazed during late summer and fall.
An application of fertilizer at the time cattle are removed
from an improved pasture during late summer will stimulate
growth and permit accumulation of more grass for the winter.
A top-dressing of 30-50 pounds nitrogen or 500 pounds of 8-8-8
fertilizer per acre will give good results. Nitrogen is most
suitable on an area treated with phosphorus and potash during
the spring. Fertilization for fall production may be done as
soon as possible after mid-August, taking care to avoid putting
it on when the soil is water-soaked.
Frost Resistance and Grazing Value.-Thick grass protects
lower leaves and stems from light frost. Even a tender variety
can supply some green feed after the first frost if it is tall
and dense when cold strikes. Freezing causes a small reduction
in protein content of mature grass, but cattle graze it readily
and remain in good condition if the pasture is not overstocked.
(Fig. 7).
Rain reduces the feed value of frozen grass cured on the stem.
There is no known poisonous effect of frost on the grass varie-
ties discussed in this bulletin, but photosensitization has been
reported when cattle grazed Bermuda grass pastures 2 on organic
soils after frost.
Freezing temperatures will damage grasses more in some
cases than others. Variations in air humidity, soil moisture
and plant maturity affect the amount of injury inflicted at a
given temperature.
The grasses may be compared for their cold resistance as
follows:
Moderately Resistant Intermediate Tender
Ky. 31 Fescue Rhodes Common Bermuda
Alta Fescue Carpet Torpedo
Vasey Coastal Bermuda Argentine Bahia
Pensacola Bahia Suwannee Bermuda Common Bahia
St. Augustine Pangola
Cogon Carib
Lovegrass Para
Moderately-resistant grasses may remain green at 270 F.
Temperatures much colder than this are endured by the fescues,

Kidder, R. W., D. W. Beardsley and T. C. Erwin. Photosensitization
control is now possible. Fla. Cattleman and Livestock Jour. 14: 8: 68-70.
1950.






Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


while other varieties are damaged occasionally at this tempera-
ture. Growth of even these resistant varieties is severely cur-
tailed by continuous low temperatures. The grasses listed as
being intermediate in cold resistance commonly are damaged at
temperatures between 270 and 340 F. Tender varieties usually
are damaged by frost formation, even at temperatures well above
320 F. These grasses may be killed outright by severe cold
weather.
Mineral Supplements.3-Copper, cobalt, iron and phosphorus
are the elements most commonly lacking in pasture grasses,
while the supply of calcium is usually sufficient for animal needs.
Cattle on improved pasture should have a complete mineral
supplement before them at all times. Lime and fertilizer treat-
ments increase the calcium and phosphorus contents of grass,
but should not be depended upon to supply all the mineral needs
of the animals. There is no evidence that minor elements ap-
plied to the grass are more beneficial to cattle than those pro-
vided in a mineral supplement.
Hay and Silage.-Locally-produced hay in central Florida has
been in small supply and of low quality. Some hay has been
brought in from other areas, but shipping costs are high. New
grasses and production methods have made available heavy crops
of nutritious forage suitable for hay. High humidity and rain-
fall during the season when the grass for hay is available make
drying difficult, thus retarding hay production. Small crops
can be dried under natural conditions in spring and fall, but
they are in constant danger of rain damage. However, the in-
troduction of pickup balers, together with improved equipment
for artificial drying, have made possible a beginning on the pro-
duction of high quality hay in Florida. Procedures for drying
are under study and information is available in Station Bulletin
477.
Grass silage has become an important item of feed storage
in Florida. Various grasses and many types of silos have been
used successfully. Thorough packing and methods of feeding
are essential considerations in the production and use of silage.
Pasture Insects.-Army Worms and Grass Worms.-The fall
army worm, Laphygma frugiperda (A. & S.), and the grass
worm, Mocis repanda (F.),have been found in central Florida

SBecker, R. B., P. T. Dix Arnold, W. G. Kirk, George K. Davis and R. W.
Kidder. Minerals for Dairy and Beef Cattle. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul.
No. 513R. 1957.







Grass Pastures in Central Florida


four years. Production is often reduced and the grass is called
"sod bound". This is usually the result of a lack of plant food and
may be largely corrected by fertilization. It is commonly thought
that grazing cattle cause soil compaction and reduce pasture
productivity but there is no evidence of this on extremely sandy
soils. Disking will stimulate a sod of Bermuda, Torpedo or Para
to make renewed growth. This thins the stand and mixes stems
and roots into the soil and some nitrogen is released. The actual
cost of cultivation and levelling is high and similar expenditures
for plant food can be expected to yield equal or superior results.
Pangola grass heavily infested with weeds and poor grasses can
be renovated by thorough cultivation and fertilization. Culti-
vation of pastures having a clean stand of grass is not recom-
mended.
Management and Utilization
Fencing.-Fencing is essential to efficient and profitable use
of improved pasture. Cattle get the most value from improved
grass available when the need is greatest. Pasturage can be
accumulated for the winter period only by keeping stock off
during the latter part of the growing season. Furthermore, a
sod that is kept eaten down to the sand produces less feed than
one allowed to maintain two to six inches of growth, depending
on the variety of grass.

Fig. 6.-A centrifugal spreader working on an established pasture of
Pangola grass. This machine will cover more area than the drop-type
spreader and is better suited for use on rough land.







Grass Pastures in Central Florida


pastures during spring and fall. They feed on all common grass-
es and fertilized pastures are a favorite for attack. A heavy
infestation will strip all edible forage from an area and leave it
worthless for grazing until new growth is made.
The larvae or caterpillars of these insects are striped, vary-
ing in color from greenish-gray through brown to black. The
worms are barely visible when hatched and reach a mature
length of 1 to 11/2 inches. When fully grown the larvae form
brown pupal cases from which come brown to dark gray moths
having a wing spread of approximately an inch.
There are no means of predicting or preventing an attack of
these worms. Effective control can be obtained through close
observation of pastures and application of control measures
while the worms are small. They are difficult to see in this
stage and drop to the ground when disturbed. Unexplained
notching of leaf edges or excreta pellets on the ground in sum-
mer and fall should prompt close examination for worm infes-
tation.
Control measures for the fall army worm are well established
and were described by A. N. Tissot.4 The following treatments,
based on his recommendations, were tested on grass worms with
satisfactory results at the Range Cattle Station: 1, 25 pounds
per acre of 10% toxaphene dust; 2, 25 pounds per acre of 5%
DDT dust; 3, 25 pounds per acre of 5% chlordane dust; and 4,
11/2 pounds 50% wettable DDT in 65 gallons water per acre.
Toxaphene killed the worms within 24 hours, while DDT and
chlordane applications required up to 48 hours.
Aphids.--A small yellow plant louse known as the sorghum
aphid, Sipha flava (Forbes), attacked Pangola grass at the Range
Cattle Station in 1948 and 1950. Prevalent in spring and fall,
this insect has caused enough damage to fertilized grass to re-
duce feed production by 50 percent or more.
Most aphids are on the under side of the foliage and are the
same color as the leaves. Yellow patches develop rapidly in the
field during warm, dry weather and may, under favorable con-
ditions, later cover large areas. Advanced stages give the pas-
ture a dried and stunted appearance.
Spraying with 1 pound of 15 percent wettable parathion
powder in 100 gallons of water per acre killed this aphid in
'Tissott, A. N. Armyworm control means spraying of pastures. Fla.
Cattleman and Livestock Jour. 14: 12: 46, 48. 1950.
Kelsheimer, E. G., D. W. Jones and E. M. Hodges. Control of Some
Insect Pests of Improved Pastures. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Cir. S-64. 1953.







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


November 1950 (see below, Insecticide Residues). Frost fol-
lowed the treatment by about two weeks and no observations on
reinfestation were possible.
Other Insects.-Webworms and mole-crickets have caused
little damage to central Florida pastures. Leafhoppers become
numerous enough to cause damage at certain seasons.
Insecticide Residues.-Grass should not be grazed for two
weeks after being treated for insect control. Parathion is par-
ticularly toxic to humans and the most rigid precautions should
be taken in handling it.

Grass Varieties
Research and exploration are constantly finding new grass
varieties for pasture improvement. Since a testing period is
necessary, however, final judgment cannot be passed on any
recently developed or introduced species.
Grasses differ in their value for forage production under
varying conditions of growth and management. Each has some
weakness and none is ideal for all conditions. A cattleman who
plants large areas of improved grass should use at least two
varieties, each in a pure stand. When different varieties are
mixed together the more palatable grass will be grazed too
closely while the other is left to become tough and undesirable.
Disease and insect attacks and unfavorable weather are less
likely to damage all of the pasture at the same time if more than
one variety is used in different plots. In choosing grasses for a
given location, local soil conditions, management plans and per-
sonal preferences should be considered.
Bahia Grass.-Common Bahia was one of the first grasses
planted for pasture improvement in Florida. Leaves vary up
to one-half inch in width, are sharp-pointed and dark green in
color. Seed is produced in a robust, two-pronged seed-head on
a stalk varying from one to two feet high. The plants enlarge
by stout runners not more than 12 inches annually. This variety
is a low producer and is not an important pasture grass.
Pensacola Bahia, first selected near Pensacola, Florida, has
the same deep rooting habit as the common variety. It is
narrow-leafed and the seed stalks are taller and more slender
than those of Common Bahia. The seed is smaller, germinates
more readily and produces a sod in a shorter time than Common
Bahia. Stolons of the Pensacola strain may grow two feet in a
year if the ground has not become completely sodded. It suffers






Grass Pastures in Central Florida


less damage from leaf diseases than Common Bahia and is more
resistant to frost. Seed production, combined with grazing and
hay, have made this a profitable grass on many well-drained
upland soils. Efficient utilization permits the growing of this
variety entirely for pasture without consideration of seed values.
Pensacola Bahia has consistently given higher beef gains per
acre than Common Bahia at the Range Cattle Station and is
recommended over the latter variety.
Paraguay or Texas Bahia has been planted on limited acre-
ages. It is narrow-leafed and hairy, forming a dense sod. Seed
supply is limited and there is no indication that it equals Pensa-
cola in grazing value.
A more-recently developed type, known as Argentine Bahia,
is broad-leafed like common, germinates and spreads like Pensa-
cola and promises more resistance to leaf disease than either.
This variety has produced cattle gains similar to Pensacola at
the Range Cattle Station but is more easily damaged by frost.
All the Bahias (Paspalum notatum Flugge) are exceptionally
fibrous when mature and should be grazed in the vegetative
stage. Mowing, chopping or burning may be necessary to re-
move Bahia that has become tough and unpalatable to grazing
animals.
Bermuda Grass.-Probably the first improved pasture in Flor-
ida was of common or "garden" Bermuda grass, which so readily
invades cultivated and fertilized land. The herbage produced
is very nutritious because it grows only where land is of mod-
erate to high fertility and it is a "strong" grass. Common Ber-
muda is less productive than several other grasses and little
is being planted now. Most Common Bermuda grass seed is
shipped into the state. Arizona Bermuda is the same as the
local common variety, but seed is produced out-of-state and given
a point-of-origin name. Coastal Bermuda and Suwannee, two
varieties developed at the Coastal Plain Experiment Station,
Tifton, Georgia, are higher-yielding than Common and not as
seriously damaged by leaf spot disease. Neither of these pro-
duces seed and both must be planted by stems and runners.
Their acreage in central Florida is very limited.
A large native variety known as Giant, or St. Lucie, Bermuda
equals the vigor of the Tifton selections, but is damaged seri-
ously by leaf diseases. It will tolerate more water and lower
fertility levels than the Tifton Bermudas, but is less productive.
St. Lucie Bermuda is propagated vegetatively.






Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


None of the Bermuda varieties (Cynodon dactylon (L) Pers.)
should be planted under conditions of low fertility or poor
drainage.
Carpet Grass.-Although only limited amounts have been
planted since 1945, there is a larger acreage of Carpet (Axonopus
affinis Chase) than of any other improved grass in the state at
present. It was seeded extensively in the early years of pasture
development, when few other adapted varieties were available.
This grass spreads by seeds and surface runners and survives
under very close grazing. Seeds are scattered everywhere and
Carpet grass grows as a weed in overgrazed Bermuda and Pan-
gola pastures. Since it comes in only under heavy grazing,
its invasion may be a sign that the pasture is being crowded.
Carpet grass will compete on an even basis with Bahia on moist
land, but will not subdue it even under the heaviest possible
grazing.
Carpet grass on infertile land makes low quality feed and,
because it grows on such land, has been considered a poor grass.
It makes excellent quality pasture on fertile land, but is giving
way to more productive varieties in most new plantings. Car-
pet grass on moist land makes a highly productive combination
with winter clover, but its low production record as a pure va-
riety makes it of doubtful value for new plantings. (See Station
Bulletin 517 for further discussion of clover pastures.)
Because it is so difficult to subdue, Carpet grass sod ordinarily
should not be broken up to plant more productive varieties. New
land may cost somewhat more to prepare for planting, but the
competition of surviving Carpet grass with the more desirable
variety can easily offset this saving. Since Carpet grass fur-
nishes more feed than most native pasture, it should be saved
and the improvement practice carried out on new land when-
ever possible.
Cogon Grass.-This grass (Imperata cylindrica (L) Beauv.)
is planted by use of crowns and rhizomes and produces light
fluffy seed-heads with few, if any seeds. Cogon is moderately
frost resistant and is grazed readily until it becomes too coarse.
It is grown on upland soils with moderate success but does not
do well on flatwoods land. Yield data are not available, so Cogon
cannot be compared directly with other grasses.
The uncertain danger of its becoming a pest as it has in other
parts of the world has hindered both investigation and use of
Cogon. There is no indication that Cogon is superior to other







Grass Pastures in Central Florida


grasses, and experience has shown it difficult to eradicate. This
grass is not recommended.
Fescue, Kentucky 31 and Alta.-These two strains of tall
Fescue (Festuca elatior var. arundinacea (Schreb.) Wimm.) de-
veloped in Kentucky and Oregon, respectively, behave alike in
southern Florida. Neither has made much growth on sandy
land, even with moist weather and heavy fertilization. Indica-
tions are that Fescue may be useful for cold weather grazing
on highly fertile land. Ordinarily it produces sparingly and
does not live through the summer. Trial plantings are being
continued, but Fescue cannot be recommended except for mucky
areas that have water control.
Pangola Grass.-This variety (Digitaria decumbens Stent.),
introduced from South Africa, looks much like Crab grass but
produces no live seed and lives from year to year without re-
planting. Pangola is established by planting stems or crowns
in moist ground. Once the plant is rooted, it produces runners
that grow from one to two inches a day in warm weather.
Young stolons are killed by frost but the crown will survive
temperatures normally experienced in the peninsular section of
Florida.
Pangola grass is suited for use on a wide variety of soil types
and will survive both periodic flooding and extreme drouth. It
is well-liked by grazing animals and gives excellent response to
fertilization. This grass will be a disappointment unless soil
fertility is maintained. Overgrazing reduces production and
opens the way for Carpet grass and weeds. Like other grasses,
once Pangola has headed out and become mature its feed value
is reduced. However, cattle eat the mature herbage readily and
it makes an excellent deferred pasture for winter use.
Pargola is very sensitive to copper deficiency and should not
be planted unless this fertility need is considered. When copper
is a limiting factor, growth is slow, young leaves are pale yellow
and spotted with brown. Old leaves at the center of the plant
turn dark brown and die. This condition may occur when lime
and a complete fertilizer have been put on in amounts to support
vigorous growth. Affected plants show improvement within
two weeks following the addition of copper.
Para Grass.-Para grass (Panicum purpurascens Raddi) has
been grown in southern Florida for many years. It is planted
by stolons and upright stems and thrives in low, marshy, sandy






Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


land. This grass is relished by cattle when in the green, leafy
stage. Overstocking will injure the stand. Mature Para has a
coarse, inedible stem. It is the tenderest of the common grasses
in this area, and is easily killed when the soil temperatures reach
freezing. Para has value for use in shallow ponds and sloughs.
Carib Grass.-Closely resembling Para, Carib grass (Erioch-
loa polystachya H.B.K.) has finer stems and will stand more
grazing. It is easily damaged by frost but will grow in water
for long periods. On sandy land, its productivity is limited by
lack of available plant food.
Rhodes Grass.-Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana Kunth.) is re-
lated to the Bermudas and produces a many-branched seed-
head on a stalk from three to four feet high. Stems of Rhodes
lean over and take root to form new plants in a thin stand.
Home-grown seed is usually lower in germination than imported
seed, but it can be used by planting at heavier rates.
Brought to the United States from Africa early in this cen-
tury, Rhodes grass has been planted in Florida for many years.
Although it has not become an important forage species, recent
seedings on well-drained, fertile upland soils have produced good
pasture. Rhodes has slightly more frost resistance than Pan-
gola but may be severely injured by freezing temperatures and
by scale insects.
St. Augustine Grass.-St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum
secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze) is a good pasture grass on organic
soils in the Everglades. It is not used for pasture on sandy land
because dry weather permits severe chinch bug attacks. No
strain is immune to this damage, though some are more resistant
than others. This variety is frost-resistant and makes a thick
sod. It is slow to cover the ground and must be sprigged in
rows or set in with sod pieces for good results. St. Augustine
is a useful grass in shaded areas and for lawns where chemical
control of insects is practical.
Rye Grass.-American, Italian, Common and Domestic Rye
grass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) are names for this short-
lived grass used for winter lawns. It is frost-resistant and
comes up quickly on moist, rich land. Rust and leaf spot dis-
eases damage it severely and it has no general usefulness for pas-
ture on the sandy lands of the state.






Grass Pastures in Central Florida


Torpedo Grass.-Torpedo grass, known also as Bullet grass
and sometimes called by its botanical name (Panicum repens L.),
has been planted in many places in peninsular Florida. It is
propagated by vegetative parts and spreads by sharp-pointed
underground runners from which the common name is derived.
This grass produces many open-type seed-heads on stalks grow-
ing from one to four feet tall, but few good seed are found.
Frost kills leaves and stems but does not injure roots. Torpedo
grass withstands both drouth and flooding but grows best on
coarse sand and low, mucky land. It will live under low fertility
conditions, but both yield and quality are low under such cir-
cumstances. Good responses are obtained to fertilization and
the forage is both palatable and nutritious.
Torpedo grass is extremely aggressive and is a serious weed
in farm and grove land. Cultivation will not kill this grass,
since disking and plowing serve to stimulate it. Because it may
become a dangerous pest, Torpedo grass should never be planted
in or next to land intended for cultivated crops. Other varieties
are equal or superior in forage value in most locations and should
be given preference over this potentially dangerous species.
Vasey Grass.-A tall-growing relative of Dallis, this variety
is found naturally in moist, fertile places along roads and fields
throughout Florida. Vasey grass (Paspalum urvillei Steud.)
is very frost-resistant, but it yields well only when carefully
managed and is easily killed by overgrazing.
Other Grasses.-Neither Harding (Phalaris tuberosa var.
stenoptera) nor Reed's Canary grass (P. arundinacea L.) shows
any promise on sandy upland soils. Several types of Love grass
(Eragrostis sp.) are being planted but have not shown general
value as pasture plants. They have good frost resistance and
may prove useful on well-drained lands. Dallis grass (Paspalum
dilatatum Poir.) thrives on fertile land but is not suited for
pasture use in central Florida. Napier grass (Pennisetum pur-
pureum Schum.), a bunchy, cane-like species, grows on many
different soils but must be carefully managed if used for graz-
ing. It does not have general pasture value. Centipede grass
(Eremochloa ophiuroides (Munro.) Hack.) makes a smooth,
attractive lawn but is not desirable for pasture. Natal grass
(Rhynchelytrum roseum (Nees.) Stapfand Hubb), often called
"Red Top", is used to a limited extent for hay and grazing on
dry upland soils. This low-yielding, volunteer variety is not of
general importance.






Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


Planting and Maintaining Grass Pastures

1. Plant improved grasses on the best land available.

2. Establish only as much pasture as is needed and can be
properly maintained.

3. Destroy native growth and prepare land thoroughly,
starting 6 to 12 months before planting. Tree and stump re-
moval is usually desirable.

4. Plant productive and adapted grasses such as Pangola
and Pensacola Bahia. Use more than one variety, each in a
pure stand, when large areas are planted.

5. Plant when land is moist and use a packer to save mois-
ture and smooth the field.

6. Apply lime, fertilizer and minor elements as needed.
Most flatwoods soils require treatment at planting time.

7. Fence new pastures and protect from grazing for 60 to
90 days after planting or until the grass is established.

8. Refertilize all productive pastures yearly with not less
than 400 pounds per acre of 8-8-8 or similar mixture.

9. Apply additional nitrogen when very heavy grazing or
several cuttings of hay or planting material are desired.

10. Plan pasture grazing and fertilization to supply feed
when the need is greatest. More improved pasture should be
fall-fertilized and reserved for winter grazing.

11. Maximum production can be obtained only if overstock-
ing is avoided.

12. High cost pastures must be used efficiently if they are
to yield a profit.




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