Redalta, Greenalta and Bigalta Limpograss,
Promising Forages for Florida
K. H. Quesenberry, L. S. Dunavin Jr, E. M. Hodges, G. B. Killinger
A. E. Kretschmer Jr, W. R. Ocumpaugh, R. D. Roush, O. C. Ruelke,
S. C. Schank, D. C. Smith, G. H. Snyder and R. L. Stanley
Agricultural Experiment Stations
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida, Gainesville
E A. Wood, Dean for Research
in cooperation with the
USDA Soil Conservation Service
Redalta, Greenalta and Bigalta Limpograss,
Promising Forages for Florida
K. H. Quesenberry, L. S. Dunavin Jr., E. M. Hodges,
G. B. Killinger, A. E. Kretschmer Jr., W. R. Ocumpaugh,
R. D. Rousch, O. C. Ruelke, S. C. Schank, D. C. Smith,
G. H. Snyder, and R. L. Stanley
This publication was printed in cooperation with
the USDA Soil Conservation Service.
This public document was promulgated at an annual cost of $1,810 or a
cost of 23t per copy to inform Florida Extension personnel, ranchers, and
forage producers of research results and potential uses of limpograss.
Drs. Quesenberry, Ocumpaugh, Ruelke, and Schank are faculty mem-
bers of the IFAS Agronomy Department, University of Florida, Gaines-
ville. Dr. Killinger is a professor emeritus of Agronomy. Drs. Dunavin,
Hodges, and Kretschmer are agronomists at the IFAS Agricultural Re-
search Centers at Jay, Ona, and Ft. Pierce, respectively. Dr. Snyder is a soil
chemist at the Agricultural Research and Education Center, Belle Glade;
and Dr. Stanley is an agronomist at the Agricultural Research and
Education Center, Quincy. Mr. Roush is manager, USDA Soil Conser-
vation Service, Plant Materials Center, Brooksville, Florida. Mr. Smith is
Plant Materials Specialist, USDA Soil Conservation Service, Gainesville,
Introduction ....... ........... ............... ..... 1
Description .............. ............. ... ............ 1
Redalta ........................................ ... ... 2
Greenalta ............. .............................. 2
Bigalta ............ ..... ...... ...... ... ............ 2
Forage Production ........................................... 2
ARC, Ft. Pierce .............. ............................ 3
Gainesville ................... ........ .................. 4
ARC, Ona...................................... 5
ARC,Jay ...................... .................. ...... 5
AREC, Quincy ........................................... 6
Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station ....................... 7
Digestibility and Quality ................. ................... 7
Establishment, Management, and Fertilization Practices ........... 9
Planting Methods ........................................ 9
Lime and Fertilization ................................. 10
Defoliation Management and Fertilization ..................... 10
Limpograss-Legume Mixtures ................................. 12
Preliminary Limpograss Grazing Trials .......................... 14
Limpograss as a Conserved Forage ............................ 15
Miscellaneous Pests of Limpograss .................. .......... 16
Planting Material Distribution ...................... ......... 17
Literature Cited ................ .. ... ... ................... 18
Limpograss (Hemarthria altissima (Poir) Stapf & C. E. Hubb) was
introduced into Florida in 1964 from plant collections made by Dr. A. J.
Oakes of the USDA Plant Introduction Service (6). The original collection
consisted of four plant introductions, numbers 299039, 299993, 299994,
and 299995. The first did not prove to be agronomically useful, but the
remaining three have shown potential for expanded utilization. These
three introductions were given the common names 'Redalta', 'Greenalta',
and 'Bigalta', respectively, by personnel of the Soil Conservation Service
(SCS), Plant Materials Center (PMC), Brooksville, Florida. These names
have been accepted as the cultivar names. The common species name of
"limpograss" for Hemarthria altissima was suggested by Wilms, Car-
michael, and Schank in 1970 (10). This name was derived from the area
of collection in the Limpopo River valley region of Eastern Transvaal in
The original introductions were first planted at Gainesville, the SCS
PMC, Arcadia, Florida, and the Agricultural Research Center, Ona, Flor-
ida, in 1964. In subsequent years, one or more genotypes were planted at
several other Agricultural Research Centers throughout Florida. From
later plantings established at Brooksville, cooperators of soil and water
conservation districts obtained planting material for "on farm" testing.
Much of the planting material of Redalta distributed to ranchers in cen-
tral and south Florida in recent years initially came from the PMC at
Brooksville. Considerable Bigalta planting material has originated from
early pastures planted at Felsmer; the Agricultural Research Centers at
Ona, Gainesville, and Ft. Pierce; and subsequently from ranchers supply-
ing other ranchers.
Limpograss is a stoloniferous, perennial tropical grass of the tribe
Andropogoneae of the family Gramineae. There appear to be a broad
range of genotypes and at least three ploidy levels in the species. Al-
though the center of origin of limpograss has not been established, a wide
diversity of genotypes has been collected from southern Africa. The grass
is found in Italy, Turkey, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and into south Africa
as well as the Americas,in Mexico, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil.
The inflorescence is a single spike-like raceme, and often several racemes
may emerge from a node. Seed set under both field and greenhouse con-
ditions is low; therefore, commercial propagation will probably always be
by vegetative material.
Of the three introductions, Redalta (P 1. 299993) has shown the most
cold tolerance. It has survived winters of 0oF at Coffeeville, Mississippi.
It is easily distinguished from the other introductions by its characteristic
red color at advanced stages of growth or under stress conditions. It is a
diploid (2n=18) with finer stems and more narrow leaves than Bigalta.
Ranchers have attempted establishments of the three introductions in co-
operation with SCS. Observations of these plantings suggest that Redalta
is the variety best adapted to the dryer upland sands. Nevertheless, it also
performs well on wet sites. Currently, Redalta is second to Bigalta in total
acres established in Florida.
Greenalta (P I. 299994) is similar in cold tolerance to Redalta. Char-
acteristic of its name, it remains a medium dark green color at maturity
even under stressed conditions. It is also a diploid (2n=18) with growth
characteristics similar to Redalta except that its leaves are slightly wider
Greenalta appears to perform well on wet and alternating wet/dry sites.
Less acreage of Greenalta has been planted commercially in Florida than
either Redalta or Bigalta.
Bigalta (P I. 299995) is a tetraploid (2n=36). It has fewer but broader
leaves, larger stems, and has less cold tolerance than either Redalta or
Greenalta. It is the last to initiate growth in the spring. Nevertheless, it
had good survival in plots at Gainesville after the winter of 1976-77, which
had six days of minimum temperatures below 25F and an extreme mini-
mum of 190 for three successive nights. Bigalta is best adapted to wet
soils and will grow well even where the soil surface is intermittently cov-
ered with water. It has received the best rancher acceptance and has been
planted on greater total acreage than either of the small-stemmed diploid
Killinger and Beckham observed a strong tea-like odor when Bigalta
was dried and ground in a Wiley mill for chemical analysis. The U.S. Pat-
ent Office issued patent #3,709,694 in 1973 for use ofHemarthria as a
tea-like beverage (5). Research on the tea-like properties of Hemarthria
was conducted in cooperation with the Northern Regional Research Sta-
tion, USDA, Peoria, Illinois. No known commercial utilization of this
property of limpograss has been undertaken.
The total forage production of a grass varies, depending on the envi-
ronmental conditions where it is grown. Thus, comparisons of yields be-
tween two research centers or zones in a state are often pointless. In
contrast, comparisons with other grasses commonly grown in a particu-
lar area are more meaningful. Forage yields in this bulletin will be sum-
marized by location, and where possible, comparisons with other grass
species will be shown. All yield data are presented on an oven dry basis.
ARC, Fort Pierce
Evaluation of limpograss at the Ft. Pierce ARC has been primarily
for cool season forage production from early fall until June. Greenalta
and Redalta were first evaluated in 1969, and average yields for two years
are shown in Table 1. Yields of Greenalta and Redalta were higher than
'Pangola' digitgrass (Digitaria decumbens Stent.) and equal to, or better
than, 'Transvala' digitgrass and 'Coastcross-1' bermudagrass (Cynodon
dactylon (L.) Pers.).
TABLE 1. Two year average forage yields of five warm season perennial grasses
from September 9 to June 11 [1969-1971], ARC, Ft. Pierce, Florida.t
Dry Forage Yield [Ib/A]
Grass Nov. 4 Feb. 1 May1 June11 Total
Greenalta 1,220 1,760 2,530 2,390 7,900
Redalta 1,420 640 2,040 2,000 6,100
Pangola 1,760 680 900 2,020 5,360
Coastcross-1 2,070 1,710 1,580 2,420 7,780
Transvala 1,980 850 1,760 2,460 7,050
t Plots prepared each year by removing top growth and fertilizing on September 9. Data
collected by Drs. A. E. Kretschmer Jr. and G. H. Snyder.
A second winter experiment compared three limpograsses with three
digitgrasses and Coastcross-1 bermudagrass (Figure 1). These plots were
initially mowed on September 26 in 1972 and 1973, and final harvest was
taken on June 17, 1973 and 1974. Comparisons between Bigalta and
Transvala digitgrass show no yield differences except at the June 17 har-
vest, when Transvala was superior to Bigalta and Greenalta but not
Redalta. Bigalta had higher production in November and December than
the other limpograsses, but tended to have lower production in the
early spring. Yields of limpograsses during the January to May period
were equal to those of Pangola digitgrass but were not always higher.
These results were probably due to unseasonably warm temperatures
during the winters of this experiment which allowed Pangola to continue
14000 -_ov uez, .
Sep 26- Nov 12
,o....... .. ....
FIGURE 1. Two year average yields [1972-73] of several tropical grasses. Data col-
lected byA.E. Kretschmer Jr. and Dr. G.H. Snyder
In 1969 Bigalta limpograss was compared with Coastcross-1 ber-
mudagrass, Pangola, and other digitgrasses at the IFAS Hague research
unit by Dr. S. C. Schank. The grasses were harvested four times during the
warm season. Although the late-season production of limpograss was
slightly less than that of the digitgrasses and the bermudagrass, Bigalta
had the highest total seasonal production.
Killinger (4) compared forage yields from Greenalta and Bigalta
limpograss at the IFAS Beef Research Unit (BRU) near Gainesville during
1970. This test on Myakka fine sand was fertilized with 50 lb/acre N in
May. The results show excellent early spring production for Greenalta
(5,100 lbs/acre by May 1). Total yield of other plots, which were harvested
first on June 23 and then harvested again three weeks later, was 15,190
and 16,150 lb/acre for Greenalta and Bigalta, respectively.
Yield of the three limpograsses was compared with other perennial
tropical grasses from 1971 to 1973 on Immokalee fine sand at three fertil-
ity levels (3). At this location, the highest yielding entries were usually
eitherDigitaria or Cynodon species. The limpograsses were generally in-
termediate in total seasonal yield. Mean total seasonal yield for Redalta,
Greenalta, and Bigalta was 13,420,15,590 and 9,000 lb/acre, respectively.
Plots of the limpograsses were more severely invaded by weedy species
after three years of frequent clipping.
The limpograsses have been compared in west Florida with other
tropical grasses in two separate experiments. In the first test (Table 2),
the grasses were compared at three fertility levels (100, 200, and 400 lb
N/acre) for two years. At all fertility levels, all limpograsses yielded less
than 'Coastal' bermudagrass. However, in the second year both Bigalta
and Redalta yields were not greatly different from Coastal. In both years,
yields of Greenalta were generally lower than the other two limpograsses
at all fertility levels. The data also show that yields of limpograsses were
low in the first year, primarily due to a slow rate of establishment.
Forage production of limpograsses was also compared with other
grasses, including Transvala digitgrass and a bahiagrass (Paspalum no-
TABLE 2. Total seasonal forage yield of five warm season perennial grasses,
ARC, Jay, Florida.t
Dry Forage Yield [Ib/A]
Grass 100 Ib N 200 Ib N 400 Ib N
1971 1972 1971 1972 1971 1972
Coastal 12,700 10,600 13,800 12,400 14,900 16,200
Slenderstem 600 3,700 1,200 7,700 1,600 13,500
Redalta 4,300 8,600 3,600 8,700 3,800 12,500
Greenalta 1,800 5,100 2,400 5,400 2,000 6,700
Bigalta 3,900 7,800 3,900 8,000 2,200 13,400
t Plots harvested three timess per season. Data collected by Dr. Leonard S. Dunavin.
1974 1975 1976 1977
FIGURE 2. Four year yields of four tropical grasses at ARC, Jay. Data collected
by Dr. L. S. Dunavin.
tatum Flugge) introduction, for the period 1974-77 (Figure 2). In this trial
nitrogen fertilizer was applied at the rate of 125 lb N/acre/year. Total
yields of Greenalta and Redalta were greater than Transvala digitgrass
and a bahiagrass introduction. Yields of Redalta and Greenalta increased
in the last three years, while yields of Transvala digitgrass and bahia-
grass decreased. Yields of all the limpograsses were low during the year
of establishment, indicating a slower rate of establishment. Both Redalta
and Greenalta made excellent regrowth following the severe winter of
The three limpograsses were compared with other tropical forage
grasses in small plot clipping trials at the Quincy AREC in 1972 and 1973.
The grasses in this experiment were harvested at 1, 3, and 6 inch height
at four to five week intervals. During the first season of production, yields
of Redalta and Bigalta were greater than 'Pensacola' bahiagrass but al-
ways significantly less than Coastcross-1 bermudagrass. However, the
bahiagrass was not well enough established in the first year to produce
maximum forage yield. Bigalta limpograss had greater total yield at all
cutting heights than either Redalta or Greenalta. Stands of all limpo-
grasses were severely reduced in 1973 and yields were lower than either
bahiagrass or bermudagrass. The results at Quincy suggest that the
limpograsses may not be as well adapted as bahiagrass or bermudagrass
to certain areas of dry, upland soils of north and west Florida.
Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station
Greenalta and Bigalta limpograsses have been compared with other
tropical grasses at four locations in Hawaii.1 In one study, limpograss was
harvested at six week intervals with two fertility levels (1/2 lb N/day and
1-1/2 lb N/day). Bigalta limpograss produced more total dry matter and
crude protein than all other entries (Table 3). Yields of Greenalta were
greater than or equal to all other entries at the low fertility level and com-
parable to other entries at the high N level.
TABLE 3. Average total seasonal forage dry matter [DM] and crude protein [CP]
yield for two years of five warm season grasses at two nitrogen levels in
1/2 Ib N/day 11/2 Ib N/day
DM % CP CP DM % CP CP
[T/A] [Ib/A] [T/A] [Ib/A]
Pangola 7.5 9.9 1490 20.5 12.7 5200
Mealani 11.2 8.8 1970 22.9 12.0 5490
Transvala 9.2 9.3 1710 22.2 12.5 5520
Greenalta 11.0 9.0 1980 22.0 10.9 4820
Bigalta 14.4 7.8 2230 27.5 10.3 5690
t Data supplied by Dr. A. Sheldon Whitney, Agronomist, Department of Agronomy and Soil
Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii.
DIGESTIBILITY AND QUALITY
In vitro organic matter digestiblity (IVOMD) of the three limpo-
grasses were determined for forage from five harvests in each of two
years. Harvests were made during the period of November 12 to June 17,
1972-73 and 1973-74 at the ARC, Ft. Pierce. Significant differences in
'Research data from Hawaii supplied by Dr. A. Sheldon Whitney and published
with his consent.
TABLE 4. Two-year [1972-73] average in vitro organic matter digestibility [IVOMD]
of six warm season perennial grasses at six week regrowth, ARC, Ft.
Grass Dec. 27 Feb. 15 Mar. 28 May 10 June 17 Avg.
Redalta 59.7 58.4 60.2 53.9 45.9 55.6
Greenalta 64.1 61.6 64.3 58.9 50.5 59.9
Bigalta 66.8 63.9 68.6 62.9 54.5 63.3
Pangola 61.8 58.8 65.5 67.2 58.0 62.2
Transvala 62.0 57.4 69.9 69.5 54.5 62.7
Coastcross-1 58.0 60.5 62.1 61.9 47.3 58.0
t Forage removed initially on November 12. Fertilized at a rate of 75 Ib/acre of nitrogen after
each harvest on an alternate basis with 10-10-10 fertilizer and ammonium nitrate. Data col-
lected by Dr. A. E. Kretschmer.
IVOMD were obtained between the three limpograsses at all harvest
dates except February 15 (Table 4). Redalta IVOMD percentages gener-
ally were lower than the other grasses. Bigalta IVOMD values were greater
than the other limpograsses at each harvest and were equal to or better
than Pangola and Transvala digitgrass or Coastcross-1 bermudagrass.
Schank et al. reported IVOMD values of selfed progeny of the three
limpograsses. Their results show that decline in IVOMD with maturity
was significantly less with Bigalta when compared with either Redalta or
Greenalta. Mean IVOMD of Bigalta progeny at five weeks and at maturity
was 68.4% and 66.0%, respectively, whereas mean IVOMD of Redalta and
Greenalta progeny at the same ages was 61.2% and 55.9%. The data also
show that although Bigalta had a higher IVOMD, it had fewer leaves and
larger stems than the other two limpograsses.
Nutrient composition for Greenalta and Bigalta fertilized with 50 lb/
acre each of N, Ps05, and K20 was determined by Killinger at three differ-
ent maturity dates in the growing season. Early season mineral compo-
sition was about normal compared to other warm season perennial
grasses, but percent crude protein was somewhat low at mid and late sea-
son. Results from Hawaii also indicate that percent crude protein of
limpograss may be slightly lower than other grasses, but when com-
bined with a legume, crude protein of total forage was always above 10%.
An in viw total collection intake and digestion trial with cattle was
conducted on Bigalta limpograss and 'Roselawn' St. Augustinegrass
(Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze) grown on organic soils in
south Florida. In this test, conducted by Dr. S. W. Coleman,2 six week re-
growth of both grasses was fed as fresh green chop. Only slight differ-
ences in voluntary intake and chemical composition were observed. All
2Dr. Coleman was formerly an assistant professor of animal science at AREC,
Belle Glade. He is currently an animal scientist, USDA, ARS, El Reno, Oklahoma.
nutrient components ofBigalta limpograss were significantly more diges-
tible than in Roselawn St. Augustinegrass (Table 5). Organic matter diges-
tibility compares well with in vitr values. Cellulose digestibility was
very high in Bigalta.
TABLE 5. Percent composition and apparent digestibility of forage nutrients from
two warm season perennial grasses when fed to cattle, AREC, Belle
Nutrient Bigalta Limpograss Roselawn St. Augustinegrass
Composition Digestibility Composition Digestibility
Dry matter 15.0 68.5 21.9 61.4
Organic matter 91.4 69.4 90.8 61.9
Crude Protein 11.4 69.9 13.9 62.1
fiber 39.9 67.1 36.9 63.1
lignin 7.2 27.7 8.1 54.9
Cellulose 31.4 77.6 27.3 67.9
fiber 67.5 72.8 68.0 66.4
t Data supplied by Dr. S. W. Coleman.
ESTABLISHMENT, MANAGEMENT, AND
Limited research conducted on methods of limpograss establish-
ment by Drs. K. H. Quesenberry and 0. C. Ruelke has shown that good
stands can be obtained by vegetative propagation. The most successful
method of establishment was broadcasting of mature stems on fallow
land immediately followed by moderate disking, cultipacking, and irri-
gation when needed. Plots of Redalta and Bigalta established on August
1, 1977 with no disking or cultipacking but adequate irrigation yielded
only 43 and 239 lb/acre, respectively, on November 29, 1977. However,
similar plots of Redalta and Bigalta which were disked and cultipacked
yielded 200 and 2.210 Ib/acre, respectively. A planting rate of 7 bales (500
lb) per acre may he adequate on virgin soil with no weed problem. Weed
infestation has been a problem on old pasture land, because limpograss
is somewhat slower to establish than the digitgrasses or bermudagrasses.
Thus, higher planting rates of 15-25 bales/acre are needed on old pas-
tures. Damage from 24-D at low rates (0.5 lb/acre) on young, vigorously
growing Redalta has been observed, but no damage from Dicamba at
0.75-1.0 lb/acre rate was observed on the same area.
The effect of soil type and soil drainage on establishment of limpo-
grass is apparent from results of SCS field plantings. From 50 plantings
attempted on well drained or moderately well drained soils, only 23 suc-
ceeded, while 27 failed. However, from 81 plantings on poorly or very
poorly drained soils, 61 succeeded while only 20 failed. These results do
not account for other management factors which may have caused fail-
ure, but they indicate that success of establishment on oorl drained
soils is greater than on sandy well d- s oi
sential for successful establishment.
Lime and Fertilization
Liming on either virgin land or renovated pastures should be suffi-
cient to raise soil pH to 5.5- 6.5 for establishment of limpograss. An initial
fertilization of 500 lb/acre of a complete fertilizer, such as 10-10-10,
should be made within one to four weeks after planting. Where high rates
of nitrogen fertilization are used with frequent defoliation, there is a tend-
ency for the three limpograsses to exhibit iron deficiency symptoms
with the new growth becoming pale yellow or even white. This condition
has also been observed on early spring regrowth after close defoliation
in the fall and sometimes develops for no visible reason. Since the limpo-
grasses are more cold resistant than the digitgrasses, they respond to
early fall and spring application of fertilizer with increased cool season
Defoliation Management and Fertilization
Growth responses of Bigalta to nitrogen fertilization and cutting in-
terval (CI) were studied by Dr. A. E. Kretschmer, Jr. and G. H. Snyder in
1974-75 (Table 6). An equivalent of 50, 75, 100, and 150 pounds of nitrogen
from 16-8-8 fertilizer was applied initially (November 14, 1974) and after
each harvest, to plots cut every 4, 6, 8, and 12 weeks, respectively (a total
of 300 lb/A of N applied). Other plots harvested at 6,8, and 12 week inter-
vals received a rate of 50 pounds of nitrogen per harvest. The experiment
terminated on May 22, 1975, with a total of 6, 4, 3, and 2 harvests for the
respective 4, 6, 8, and 12 week CI treatments. Responses to cutting inter-
vals and N rates for the December to February and February to May pe-
riods were similar, but relative yields for the latter period were greater. It
was found that increasing the CI at the 300 lb/acre N level resulted in al-
most a straight-line yield increase. Pounds of dry matter produced per
pound of N increased from 21 pounds at the four-week CI to 58 pounds
at the 12-week CI. Increasing CI while holding nitrogen constant at 50
pounds after each harvest resulted in almost equal total yields but more
efficient use of applied nitrogen.
The effect of defoliation height and frequency on yield, persistence,
and quality of Redalta, Greenalta, and Bigalta was studied by Dr. O. C.
TABLE 6. Forage dry matter [DM] yield of Bigalta limpograss with different nitro-
gen rates and cutting intervals [CI], ARC, Ft. Pierce, Florida [1974-75.]t
Treatment: DM Yield [Ib/A]
N rate-lb/A Total Dec. 5 Feb. 27 Lb Forage/
CI Harvests to to Total Lb N
Percut Total [weeks] [number] Feb. 27 May 22
50 300 4 6 2,860 3,990 6,850 21
75 300 6 4 3,500 5,670 9,170 28
100 300 8 3 13,700 41
150 300 12 2 9,160 10,320 19,480 58
50 200 6 4 1,680 3,920 5,900 27
50 150 8 3 6,390 38
50 100 12 2 2,010 3,870 5,880 53
t Nitrogen applied prior to initial harvest (Nov. 14,1974) and after each subsequent harvest
as 16-8-8 fertilizer. Data collected by Drs. A. E. Kretschmer, Jr. and G. H. Snyder.
TABLE 7. Effect of defoliation height and frequency on yield and crude protein
of limpograsses at BRU, Gainesville,t
Limpograss Defoliation Defoliation Yield Crude Protein
Frequency Height [Ib/A] [%]
Redalta 5 3 13,020 10.73
5 6 12,930 9.80
10 3 18,800 7.63
10 6 15,690 8.97
Greenalta 5 3 15,870 11.93
5 6 12,090 11.01
10 3 21,300 7.32
10 6 17,530 8.38
Bigalta 5 3 16,750 13.90
5 6 12,410 13.33
10 3 20,720 8.81
10 6 17,190 8.91
t All plots received 300 Ibs/A N split in five applications. Data collected by Dr. O. C. Ruelke.
Ruelke in 1975 (Table 7), at the Beef Research Unit in Gainesville. In this
test, there were no significant differences in dry matter yield of the three
grasses. Mean yield in pounds per acre over all treatments for Redalta,
Greenalta, and Bigalta were 15,100, 16,700, and 16,800, respectively. The
trends in in vitro organic matter digestibility were as previously shown,
i.e., Redalta lowest, Greenalta intermediate, and Bigalta highest. Crude
protein levels over all treatments at this high rate of N fertilization were
9.3%, 9.7%, and 11.2% for Redalta, Greenalta, and Bigalta, respectively.
Winter survival was poor following high N fertilization; however, survival
was better at 10-week defoliation intervals than at five. Height of defol-
iation had little effect on yield and survival.
In a subsequent experiment in 1976, Ruelke varied soil fertility levels,
as well as cutting frequency and reserving forage in the fall, among Red-
alta, Greenalta, and Bigalta. Again, there was little difference in total
yield between the three selections. Increasing N levels from 60 to 180 lb/
acre significantly increased yield, but increasing N levels above 180 lb/
acre/yr did not give significant additional yield. In this study, significantly
higher yields were obtained following the longer rest period (10 wk) than
the shorter interval (5 wk). Significantly more winter injury occurred in
plots which received N at 300 lb/acre than in plots receiving lower rates
of nitrogen. This preliminary research indicates that frequent close defol-
iation of limpograss cultivars grown at high fertility rates results in yellow
areas, weak growth, and eventual loss of stand.
Research at the Ft. Pierce ARC has shown that appropriate tropical
legumes can persist in mixtures with Bigalta and contribute significantly
to total yield where no fertilizer nitrogen is supplied. In an experiment
conducted by Drs. A. E. Kretschmer, Jr. and G. H. Snyder, Bigalta was veg-
etatively planted on May 17, 1974, and then seven tropical legumes were
seeded to provide one plant per 8 square inches. All legumes grew well in
association during the summer of 1975 and 1976 (except for the styles
which were damaged by the clipping regime used). Total yields of Bigalta
plus legume in 1974-75 were as high as Rhodesgrass (Chloris gayana
Kunth) or Coastcross-1 bermudagrass with legumes, and significantly
higher than carpetgrass (Axonopus affinis Chase) or bahiagrass mix-
tures. In the second year, 1975-76, Bigalta equalled Coastcross-1 and was
higher than all other grass-legume mixtures (Figure 3). Plots of Bigalta
plus 'Siratro' (Macoptilium atrpurpureum (DC.) Urb) or 'Florida' car-
pon desmodium (Desmodium hetemcarpon (L.) DC.) harvested on July
7,1977, had 45% and 57% legume, respectively. Yields of plots with legume
were significantly higher than plots with grass alone where no nitrogen
had been applied.
In Hawaii both Greenalta and Bigalta limpograss were grown in com-
bination with birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.) or white clover
(Trifolium repens L.) at the Kula Experimental Farm (about 3,000 ft.ele-
vation). Plots of limpograss-legume mixtures were compared to other
plots of limpograss which received nitrogen fertilization at low (140 lb N/
acre/yr) and high (420 lb N/acre/yr) levels. Both limpograsses in pure
15000 Harv 3
>O-C .2 C2
FIGURE 3. Total seasonal yield of 'Bigalta' limpograss grown with seven tropical
legumes for two years.
stands yielded more at the high nitrogen fertility level than the grass leg-
ume mixtures without nitrogen. However, combined yields of limpograss
plus the companion legume were comparable to grass yields with low N
fertilization. Greenalta was better adapted for legume mixtures, as it
tended to be less competitive than Bigalta. Both limpograsses produced
more than kikuyugrass (Pennisetum clandestinum Hochst. ex Chior.),
especially at the low fertility level. However, the limpograss didn't per-
sist though the long suimnmer dry season as well as kikuyugrass, particu-
larly at the high Tertility leel.
PRELIMINARY LIMPOGRASS GRAZING TRIALS
Observations from throughout Florida indicate good acceptability of
limpograss by cattle. If given a choice, cattle may graze Bigalta in prefer-
ence to Redalta. A limited preliminary grazing trial comparing Bigalta
limpograss to Roselawn St. Augustinegrass and 'Callie' bermudagrass
was conducted by Dr. F M. Pate at AREC, Belle Glade. Average daily gain
of both steers and heifers was usually higher on Bigalta than on Rose-
lawn, and was the same on Bigalta and Callie. However, cattle had to be
removed from pastures of Bigalta on August 11, 1977, due to overgrazing
at a stocking rate of three head per acre, whereas Roselawn and Callie
produced sufficient forage at this stocking rate. These results suggest
that rotational grazing may be essential for continued maximum produc-
tion of limpograss. Unless carefully managed, limpograss may be over-
grazed, and less desirable plants may invade the stand.
Another preliminary grazing trial of Bigalta limpograss was initiated
on October 26, 1976, by Dr. E. M. Hodges at the ARC, Ona, Florida. This
trial consisted of five acres divided into four 1-1/4 acre pastures. The pas-
tures were fertilized in October 1976 and March and May 1977 with 50,
25,25 lb/acre of N, P2Os, and K2 O at each date. The experimental animals
were five weanling steer calves, averaging 508 pounds. The four pastures
were grazed in rotation allowing one week of grazing and three weeks re-
growth per pasture. Grazing was supplemented with a total of 135 pounds
of citrus pulp per animal from February 2 to March 2, 1977. Additional
cattle were placed on the pastures in July and August to utilize the avail-
able grass. Productivity of these cattle was calculated on daily perform-
ance of the long term grazers.
Year-long average daily gain (including the citrus pulp feed period)
of the five tester animals was one pound per animal for 350 days of the
test. Total animal gain per acre was 522 pounds for the same period.
Slaughter grade at the end of the 350-day period averaged 6.2.
These results, although preliminary, suggest that Bigalta limpograss
can be grazed over much of the year in central Florida with relatively high
animal performance. However, this will require moderately high levels of
fertilization and probably rotational grazing. Warm-season grazing should
be planned to leave 8 to 12 inches of stubble in the pasture at all times.
LIMPOGRASS AS A CONSERVED FORAGE
Cattle producers in temperate areas of the United States have been
utilizing tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) as a conserved forage
for winter grazing for several years. In this scheme cattle are removed
from pastures in late summer, and the grass is allowed to accumulate in
the field until December or January, when cattle are then allowed to graze
the frosted forage.
Research by Dr. W. R. Ocumpaugh (7) has shown that the frosted for-
age of tall fescue retains relatively good quality accumulated in the field.
However, most studies of tropical grasses have shown that quality of very
old or frosted forage declines markedly to values below the maintenance
levels of beef animals. Research by de Carvalho (2) showed that in vitr
organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of bahiagrass and digitgrass had de-
clined to a low of 26% and 36% respectively, when sampled on December
20 after 22 weeks of regrowth. However, Bigalta limpograss sampled at
the same date had an IVOMD of 45%. These results suggested that limpo-
grass could be utilized as a conserved forage.
In 1976, Drs. K. H. Quesenberry and W. R. Ocumpaugh initiated a pre-
liminary experiment to study yield and quality of Redalta, Greenalta, and
Bigalta limpograss during the autumn and winter of 1976-77 (8). Portions
of each grass were mowed (staged) to a height of four inches on three
dates (July 1, July 28, and Aug. 26). Small hand samples were taken for
analysis of short-term quality at 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 weeks from all staging
dates. Forage yield and long-term quality were determined at five differ-
ent harvest dates (Sept. 23, Nov. 4, Dec. 16, Jan. 27, and Mar. 11). Yields
from plots staged on August 26 were less than from the other two staging
dates. Digestibility (IOVMD) of Bigalta was higher than Redalta or Green-
alta at all harvest dates. Four-week IVOMD of Redalta and Greenalta
ranged between 58% and 60% and showed a linear decline with time to a
low of less than 30% on March 11. Four-week IVOMD of Bigalta ranged
between 68% and 70% and remained above 60% until first frost (Nov. 9,
1976), at which time it declined to about 45% for all subsequent harvest
dates (Figure 4). Percent protein of the older forage was low enough to
These preliminary results indicate that Bigalta limpograss has po-
tential for use as a conserved forage for winter grazing. These findings
are supported by the relatively good animal gains obtained by Dr. Hodges
in the year-long grazing trial mentioned above. The ability of Bigalta to
maintain relatively high IVOMD after frosting is probably due to its high
digestibility of stems, which are not damaged by moderately heavy frost.
650 ,First killing frost
25 I I ,
July A S O N D J F M
FIGURE 4. IVOMD of 'Bigalta' and 'Greenalta' limpograss conserved in the field
from July 1976 to March 1977.
MISCELLANEOUS PESTS OF LIMPOGRASS
The limpograsses have been relatively free from serious insect at-
tacks. Seasonal damage by various "grassworms" or armywormss" is an
unavoidable hazard of all forage grasses in Florida. However, de Carvalho
(2) observed that Bigalta limpograss showed significantly less insect
feeding in the fall than bahiagrass or digitgrass.
Both Pythium and Fusarium root rot were diagnosed on one sam-
ple of Bigalta from an organic soil in 1976. However, these diseases have
not been a major problem on limpograss.
Boyd and Perry (1) reported that yields of Redalta, Greenalta, and
Bigalta were substantially less than most other tropical grasses when
grown in a light textured sandy soil with an infestation of sting nematode
(Belonolaimus longicaudatus Rau). These findings have been substan-
tiated by observation from other sandy soils, and suggest that limpograss
should not be planted on light sandy soils infested with sting nematodes.
Sting nematode damage will probably not be significant on flatwoods
soils which have high water levels during the rainy season.
PLANTING MATERIAL DISTRIBUTION
A small foundation planting of Redalta and Bigalta limpograss will
be maintained by the USDA, SCS, Brooksville. SCS field offices have in-
formation on commercial growers. Foundation planting stock of Green-
alta will be maintained by the Department of Agronomy, University of
Florida, Gainesville. The Agricultural Research Center, Ona, will also
maintain small foundation plantings of Redalta, Greenalta, and Bigalta.
However, only limited quantities are available from these sources, and it
is recommended that producers establish on-farm nurseries or obtain
planting material from commercial growers for large field planting.
1. Boyd, F. T, and V. G. Perry. 1969. The effect of sting nematodes on establish-
ment, yield, and growth of forage grasses on Florida sandy soils. Soil & Crop
Sci. Soc. Fla. Proc. 29:288-300.
2. de Carvalho, Jose Herculano. 1976. Plant age and its effect upon forage qual-
ity. Univ. of Fla. Master Thesis.
3. Hodges, Elver M., and Frank G. Martin. 1975. Forage production of perennial
grasses as affected by fertilizer rate and season. Soil & Crop Sci. Soc. Fla.
4. Killinger, G. B. 1971. Limpograss (Hemarthria altissima (Poir) Stapf et C. E.
Hubb), a promising forage and beverage grass for the south. Agron. Abstr. p.
5. Killinger, G. B., and C. F. Beckham. 1973. Beverage from plants of the genus
Hemarthria United States Patent 3,709,694.
6. Oakes, A. J. 1964. Plant Exploration in South Africa. New Crops Res. Branch,
CRD, ARS, USDA. p. 158. Mimeo.
7. Ocumpaugh, William R., and A. G. Matches. 1977. Autumn-winter yield and
quality of tall fescue. Agron. J. 69:639-643.
8. Quesenberry, K. H., and W. R. Ocumpaugh. 1977. Forage yield and quality of
limpograss as a conserved forage for winter grazing. Amer. Soc. Agron. Abstr.
9. Schank, S. C., M. A. Klock, and J. E. Moore. 1973. Laboratory evaluation of
quality in subtropical grasses. II. Genetic variation among Hemarthrias in
in vitro digestion and stem morphology. Agron. J. 65:256-258.
10. Wilms, H. J., J. W. Carmichael, and S. C. Schank. 1970. Cytological and mor-
phological investigations on the grass Hemarthria altissima (Poir) Stapf et
C. E. Hubb. Crop Sci. 10:309-312.
Inititute at Food and Agibulttwal Bdmce