Group Title: New Series Bulletin - State of Florida, Department of Agriculture ; no. 27
Title: Permanent pastures for Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00015006/00001
 Material Information
Title: Permanent pastures for Florida
Series Title: Bulletin. New series
Physical Description: 46 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Scott, John M ( John Marcus )
University of Florida -- College of Agriculture
Florida -- Dept. of Agriculture
Publisher: State of Florida, Dept. of Agriculture
Place of Publication: Tallahassee <Fla.>
Publication Date: <1929>
Subject: Pastures -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Grasses -- Varieties -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by John M. Scott.
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: "June 1929".
General Note: "Prepared and published in co-operation with the College of Agriculture, University of Florida Gainesville."
Funding: Bulletin (Florida. Dept. of Agriculture) ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00015006
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 001962740
oclc - 28571136
notis - AKD9417

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Full Text

Bulletin No. 27

New Series

June, 1929

Permanent Pastures

for Florida


State of Florida
Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner

Prepared and Published in Co-operation with the College of
Agriculture, University of Florida, Gainesville.


Nathan Mayo, Commissioner of Agriculture........ Tallahassee
T. J. Brooks, Director, Bureau of Immigration...... Tallahassee
Phil. S. Taylor, Supervising Inspector............. Tallahassee
John AI. Scott, Agricultural Editor ...............Gainesville


Grass has been since the beginning of history, and will con-
tinue to be, the most important part of the food for animals'in
both meat and milk production. Today grass in its various
forms supplies nearly 75 per cent of the food used for the pro-
duction of our supply of beef, mutton, and milk.
The development of permanent pastures offers one of the great-
est agricultural opportunities now open to the people of Florida.
Better pastures will not only help the rural population, but the
city dweller as well.
On a large area of the cut-over lands of Florida it is possible
to make more than two blades of grass grow where only one grew
before. It has been demonstrated that from five to eight animals
may graze on the same area formerly required to graze one ani-
mal. This indicates that on improved pastures we are now grow-
ing from five to eight blades of grass where only one grew before.
This bulletin is written with the hope that more people in
Florida will give serious thought and consideration to the ques-
tion of permanent pastures. If this is done, it is believed that
our land and livestock owners will be able to secure better re-

Permanent Pastures for Florida
Prepared and Published in Co-operation with the College of Agri-
culture, University of Florida, Gainesville

T HE land and cattle interests throughout Florida have for
the past ten years, and. especially during the past five years,
been clamoring for information on Florida grasses that could
be grown for permanent grazing purposes. Thirty or forty years
ago, when the lumberman could buy the timber on land and have
the deed thrown in for good measure, no one gave much thought
to the value of the land itself. Neither was much thought given
to the possible productiveness of the land after the sawmill had
retired to new headquarters. Taxes were also such a small item
that they gave the land owner very little concern. Naturally
the lumberman was interested only in what he could get out of
the timber, and had no further use for the land after the timber
had passed from his possession.
Today, however, the land owner faces an entirely different sit-
uation. A crop of timber is produced only once every twenty-
five to thirty years. It is true that a good crop of timber will
give a return from the land, but the span between crops is too
long to be very profitable. Unless returns can be secured from
year to year, the owner will generally be compelled to look else-
where for a livelihood.
It is well known that wire grass, which is the grass commonly
found growing on the cut-over pine areas of the State, is desira-
ble for grazing purposes during only two and a half to thiee
months of the spring and early summer each year. It was felt
that possibly some permanent pasture grass was available to
plant on this type of land which would furnish grazing for a
much longer period than did the wire grass. That permanent
pasture grasses are available which will furnish grazing for eight
to ten months during each year in Florida is shown by the infor-
mation contained in the following pages of this bulletin.
The cost of establishing a permanent pasture, including prep-
aration of the seedbed, buying and planting the seed, etc., is not
excessive. Those farmers who have already established perma-
nent pastures in various parts of Florida feel that the investment
has been a wise expenditure. The profits which they are now
getting from these pastures are far beyond what most of them

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Fig. 1. A pasture composed of carpet grass, Dallis grass, Bahia grass, and lespedeza that will support two cows per acre from March
to November 15. Hernando County.



The average pasture of wire grass, which is the grass generally
found on the cut-over pine lands, furnishes good grazing for only
about two to two and a half months during the spring and early
summer. This is entirely too short a grazing season for Florida
From five to eight acres of ordinary wire grass pasture are
required to graze one cow a year. This is far too large an area
to have a cow graze over to get her feed; and in addition, this
makes the investment so large that one cannot expect a reason-
able return from his land.
It is necessary, therefore, to in some way increase the length
of the grazing season from two and a half months to nearer nine
or ten months, and at the same time reduce the area over which
a cow must graze in order to secure her food during the year.
Land values and taxes are much higher today than they were a
few years ago, which makes it urgent that the land owner secure
larger returns per acre.
The most practical way to increase the returns from much of
the Florida land is to improve the quality of grazing so as to get
more pounds of beef or mutton and more gallons of milk per acre.
This is possible on large areas of the cut-over pine lands, espe-
cially the flatwoods, although at this time the black jack ridges
offer very little opportunity for improvement.


The location determines to a large extent whether or not a
permanent pasture can be maintained successfully. Grasses, like
most other crops, grow better and produce more grazing when on
fertile land. In a great many cases in the past, not only in Flor-
ida but in many other States, little attention was given to the
character of the soil on which pastures were located. Very often
the land utilized for pastures was too poor to produce satisfac-
tory cultivated crops, and the results obtained from pastures on
such land were not satisfactory enough to warrant seeding the
land to good permanent pasture grasses.
Wherever permanent pastures have been established on the
better types of land in Florida, grazing results have been satis-
factory and it has been possible to maintain a permanent pasture
over a series of years. A pasture that will maintain a cow on two
acres of land from April 1 to November 1 each year can generally
be considered a good pasture. There are, however, a number of
instances reported in this bulletin where the owners of pastures
in various parts of Florida state that on each ten acres of their
permanent pasture anywhere from seven to ten head of mature
cattle can be maintained from April to November each year, and

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Fig, 2 A carpet grass pasture such as shown in the foreground will support more than a cow to the acre from April 1 to Novem.
ber 15 The wire grass pasture shown in the background will require four to six acres to support one cow for the same length of
time. Duval County.


in a few instances an even larger number. The chief reason such
excellent results have been obtained is that the pastures are all
located on fertile soils-soils that are capable of producing a good
crop of grass.


Some may say, "Why not put the land in cultivation and in
this way grow profitable crops?" There are thousands of acres
of cut-over pine land in Florida that are not suitable for crop-
ping purposes, but which will furnish an abundance of grazing
for producing beef, milk and mutton when seeded to permanent
pasture grasses.
These lands will generally produce better crops of grass than
any other crop, unless it might be another crop of timber. It is
often possible, however, to grow both grass and timber on the
same land for several years before the trees produce enough
shade to retard the growth of the grass.


In the spring of 1924 the Florida Agricultural Extension Di-
vision, the Seaboard Air Line Railway Co., and the Florida East
Coast Railway, co-operating, established a number of demonstra-
tion pastures in some twelve or fifteen counties in Florida. The
counties were well distributed over the State, some being in the
extreme western part, some in the central and some in the south-
ern part. The results of these pasture demonstrations indicate
very strongly the possibilities of improved pastures on good land
in all sections of Florida.
The grass seed mixture used in these demonstration pastures
was composed of carpet grass 6 pounds, Dallis grass 4 pounds,
Bahia grass 2 pounds, and lespedeza 3 pounds per acre, or a
total of 15 pounds of grass seed to the acre.
The demonstration pasture in Bay County is located on typical
pine land very similar to thousands of acres of cut-over pine land
in West Florida. The owner of this pasture estimates that a ten-
acre pasture such as his will graze seven head of cattle per year.
A pasture in Leon County, located near Tallahassee on a typ-
ical clay hill of that section, has an estimated carrying capacity
of two cows per acre for eight months out of each year.
Another demonstration pasture is located on a sandy loam soil
with a clay subsoil in Suwannee County. This pasture is grazed
the year round by dairy cows and calves. Although no grazing
records have been kept, it has been estimated that it will carry
one cow per acre from April to November.
The owner of the pasture in Jefferson County, located on a
sandy loam soil similar to much of the land in that section of the


State, was so well pleased with the results from the demonstra-
tion pasture that he has seeded an additional seventy-five acres
to permanent pasture grasses. He estimates his pasture will
carry a cow to two acres from April to November.
The pasture in Duval County is located some six or seven miles
northwest of Jacksonville. The soil is similar to thousands of
acres of land in Duval, Nassau, Baker, Columbia, Hamilton and
many other counties in North Florida. It has been estimated by
the owner that the pasture will graze two cows to the acre from
April to November.
About, fie jmai1esnorthast of Ocala, in Marion County, a
demonstration paStuiewas established on soil that is typical of
a large part of the better farming land in that county. The
owner of this pasture estimates that it will carry one cow per
acre from April to November.
One of the best demontsration pastures in the State is in Her-
nando County, about three miles southeast of Brooksville. This
pasture will carry two cows to the acre from March 1 to Novem-
ber 15, and in addition it will carry one cow to the acre from
November 15 to March. In other words, this pasture is grazed
the year round.
Another good demonstration pasture is on drained land in St.
Lucie County, about four and a half miles northwest of Ft.
Pierce. No grazing records have been kept on this pasture, but
it is estimated that it will carry two cows to the acre for nearly
the entire year.
A demonstration pasture in Palm Beach County, located on
flatwoods soil typical of that section of the State, is grazed the
year round.

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Fig. 3. A carpet grass and lespedeza pasture that helps to make dairying profitable on this farm in Marion County.



Although good results were obtained with the demonstration
pastures when only 15 pounds of grass seed were used per acre,
it is evident that in many cases much better results would have
been secured if more seed per acre had been used.
The chief reason for advocating a heavier rate of seeding is
that a better stand of grass will thus be obtained, and a much
shorter length of time required to get a complete sod of grass
over the entire area. The shorter length of time required to get
a complete sod means'that much more grazing can be obtained
from a given area.
The quicker covering of sod also tends to keep down weed
growth, for a thin stand of grass means more weed growth. Weeds
make poor pasture, and there is the added expense of mowing
once or twice during the summer.
To get best results, one should seed at the rate of 10 pounds
carpet grass, 10 pounds Dallis grass, and 5 pounds lespedeza seed
per acre. If Bahia and Bermuda grass are to be included in the
mixture, the carpet grass, Dallis grass, Bahia grass and lespedeza
seed may be mixed in equal amounts by weight, and 25 pounds
of the mixture seeded per acre.


The results of one year's grazing work at the Florida Agricul-
tural Experiment Station show that beef cattle make good gains
when grazed on improved permanent pasture.
"That good pastures well fertilized return excellent profits
when grazed by average Florida range beef cattle has been dem-
onstrated in a'test carried on at the Florida Experiment Sta-
tion. Seven acres of such pasture grazed by seven steers for 199
days gave a net profit per steer of $7.56.
"The pasture consisted of two plots of 31/2 acres each. All
seven steers were grazed on first one plot and then the other.
Both plots were seeded to pasture grasses in 1926, the first plot
having a mixture of carpet, Bahia, Bermuda and Dallis grasses
and the second plot having only Bahia grass.
"The pasture is located on rolling hammock land consisting
mostly of sandy soils belonging to several different series. It is
fairly moist.
"On February 28, 1928, both plots were given an application
of a complete fertilizer consisting of 25 pounds nitrate of soda,
an equal amount of nitrogen in cottonseed meal, 100 pounds
superphosphate, and 25 pounds muriate of potash per acre. A

Progressive Farmer, December 22, 1928.


top dressing of 100 pounds nitrate of soda was applied in May
and a second one in June and July. The top dressings were
made after each plot had been grazed down and the steers moved
to the other plot.
''The steers received no supplemental feeding except a mineral
mixture and salt, which were kept where the steers had access to
them at all times. The seven steers were grazing a total of only
seven acres, or one acre to a steer, yet they were not able to keep
the grass grazed sufficiently close, and it was necessary to mow
the pasture four times during the summer.
"The steers were placed on the pasture on April 20, 1928.
At that time the total weight for the seven steers was 3,680
pounds, and they were valued at 5 cents a pound, giving a total
value of $184. The steers were weighed at intervals ranging
from 14 to 26 days and transferred from one plot to the other.
On November 5 the seven steers weighed 5,440 pounds and were
valued at 6 cents a pound, giving a total value of $326.40. Thus
the total gain in weight during the 199 days was 1,760 pounds,
or 251.4 pounds per steer. This gave a gross profit of $142.40 on
the seven steers.
The expenses to be deducted from that are $3.53 per acre
for the complete fertilizer, $6 per acre for the top dressing, and
pasturage at 50 cents per head per month. This gives a total
expense of $89.46, leaving a net profit of $52.94 on the seven
steers, or $7.56 per head or per acre as the case may be.
"According to workers in the Agronomy Department of the
station, who conducted the tests in co-operation with the Animal
Husbandry Department, the plots gave promise of carrying the
steers until well toward the end of November, or until a heavy
frost, without any supplemental feeding. The steers seemed to
prefer the grass mixture, particularly the carpet grass, over the
Bahia alone. On the mixed plot there is nearly a full stand,
while on the Bahia plot the stand is probably about three-fourths

Para grass (Panicum barbinode) is a native of South America,
possibly from Brazil, and was introduced into Florida some fifty
years ago. It is a rank growing perennial with large surface
runners, the diameter of which varies from a quarter of an inch
to half an inch. Under favorable conditions, the surface runners
may grow to a length of twenty to sixty feet during one season's
growth. The runners take root at the joints. As soon as the
ground becomes well covered with surface runners, upright
growth is put out from each joint. This upright growth may
attain a height of from eighteen inches to four or five feet. Para
grass, however, never makes a complete sod like carpet or Ber-
muda grass.

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Fig. 4. Para grass pasture on the lower East Coast of Florida. Courtesy S. W. Hiatt.


This grass seems to produce more and better grazing if it is
plowed or disked every year, or at least every other year. The
plowing or disking apparently gives the grass new life, and as a
result it produces more growth and better grazing.
SoILS.-Para grass will grow in almost any kind of soil, but,
like all other plants, it makes its best growth on a fertile soil well
supplied with moisture.
WHERE GROWN.-All parts of Florida are not suitable to this
grass. It grows successfully only in those parts where the tem-
perature seldom goes below 32 degrees F. A liberal amount of
moisture and plenty of warm weather are required for its best
PROPAGATION.-Para grass does not produce good seed in any
quantity in Florida. Propagation is best made by means of root
and stem cuttings. Plantings may be made at any time during
warm weather when there is sufficient moisture to insure growth,
but they should be made only in well prepared seedbeds.
When root cuttings are used for planting, they may be
dropped in every third or fourth furrow as the ground is being
plowed, and covered by the next furrow. If the supply of root
cuttings is abundant, they may be dropped every two or three
feet apart in the row. Stem cuttings perferably should be about
18 inches apart in the row, with the rows three to four feet apart.
GRAZING.-No grazing experiments have been made with Para
grass in Florida. However, a number of dairymen in the south-
ern part of the State have been grazing Para grass for a number
of years and are well pleased with results.


Carpet grass (Axonopus compressus) is not a native in the
Southern States, but it has been here so long that it has almost
taken possession of the grazing land in many sections of the
South. Early history tells us that carpet grass was first reported
from Jamaica in 1696. Before 1830 it was recorded from Peru,
Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Haiti, San Domingo, and Porto Rico. The
first record of it in the United States is that it was found at New
Orleans in 1832.
The area of this country where carpet grass is found growing
extends from Texas eastward along the coast to Virginia. It takes
in all of Louisiana, the lower two-thirds of Mississippi, Alabama,
Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and all of Florida. It
is a perennial grass. In color it is pale or light green, with creep-
ing stems which root at each joint. Under ordinary conditions
the grass usually makes a growth of from three to eight inches
in height. The seed heads may be from twelve to eighteen inches

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Fig. 5. A carpet grass pasture like this one will produce milk, beef, or mutton at a profit. Duval County.

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Fig. 6. This pasture is composed largely of carpet grass and carries a mature cow per acre throughout the year. Fire has not been
on this pasture in years. Osceola County.
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Fig, 6.Ti 4tr moe agl fcre r as andi~ carr~ies aF mauecwprar hogo h ee iehsntbe .
on thspsuei }er. Ocel ony


The creeping stems under favorable growing conditions soon
cover the surface of the ground, making a dense sod which com-
pletely covers the surface of the soil. A single plant in one sea-
son may make sufficient growth to cover a space from two to four
feet in diameter.
Carpet grass will never become a troublesome pest, as it is
easily killed by cultivation. Then, too, annual burning of the
pasture will kill the carpet grass. The fact that carpet grass
will not stand annual burning must be kept in mind. When an
effort is made to establish and maintain a carpet grass pasture,
the habit of burning the grazing lands each year must be omitted
from the program. If annual burning is not omitted, a carpet
grass pasture cannot be maintained.
PROPAGATION.-Carpet grass is best propagated by sowing the
seed, which are now harvested in a number of the Southern States
so that an abundant supply is usually on the market.
When carpet grass alone is planted, seeding should be at the
rate of 20 to 25 pounds of seed to the acre. The heavier rate of
seeding gives a better stand of grass, forming a complete sod in
a shorter length of time.


Dallis grass (Paspalum dilatatum) is now found growing in
many sections of Florida. Locally it is known by several differ-
ent names. In some sections it is known as Large Water Grass.
This name no doubt has been applied to it because it grows and
thrives well on low, moist land that is too wet to grow cultivated
This is one of the hardiest grasses now growing in Florida. It
will stand more cold than carpet, Bahia, Bermuda, or centipede.
Under ordinary conditions a temperature of 25 degrees F. sel-
dom kills the green growth. After the grass is well established.
it will withstand dry weather to a wonderful degree, although
during dry weather it will make very little or no new growth.
On dry, sandy land, it is very difficult to establish a stand of
this grass, and it is not advisable to make any extended effort to
establish a Dallis grass pasture on land of this type.
PROPAGATION.-Dallis grass is best propagated by sowing the
seed. Large quantities of seed are produced in several of the
Southern States where the grass has been grown for a number of
years and is now well established. Seed can be purchased from
almost any reliable seed dealer.
Propagation may also be by division of the root clumps. Should
this method be used, the material ought to be set when there is
sufficient moisture in the ground to insure growth.
The seed are generally sown broadcast at the rate of about 20
pounds of seed to the acre on a well-prepared seedbed. After


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Fig. 7. A carpet grass pasture that is forming a solid sod. A few bunches of wire grass are still seen scattered about.



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Fig. 8. A fine carpet grass pasture with a good stand of white clover. This makes an excellent combination for a pasture wherever
it can be grown. The above pasture is located in Duval County.


sowing, a light spike tooth harrow may be used for covering.
Any time from March until June or July is satisfactory for sow-
ing the seed.
ERADICATION.-Dallis grass, like many of the other desirable
pasture grasses, is very easy to eradicate if it is no longer wanted
as a pasture grass. One plowing will kill out nearly all of the
grass. Best results will be obtained if plowing is done when the
ground is dry.


Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) is an introduced grass, com-
ing from South. America. It was introduced by the Bureau of
Plant Industry, United States Department of Agriculture, in
1913, and a second introduction was made in 1914.
This grass was first planted in Florida at the Florida Agricul-
tural Experiment Station in May, 1913. The Experiment Station
has continued to grow this grass, and today several acres are
growing on the Experiment Station farm and considerable
amounts of seed and roots have been distributed to farmers in
various parts of the State.
Bahia grass has proven to be a very satisfactory pasture grass
under many conditions in Florida. It will grow on a variety of
soils, stands grazing well, and cattle seem to relish it as well as
other grasses, but it spreads rather slowly when compared with
carpet or centipede grass. This grass is not much more sensitive
to cold than other grasses. A temperature much below 34 de-
grees F. will nearly always kill all green growth, the extent of
the damage depending somewhat upon the state of growth of the
grass at the time. The roots, however, are not injured unless the
temperature goes considerably below freezing. When moisture
conditions are favorable, growth starts in the spring about the
same time as other perennial grasses.
PROPAGATION.-The grass seeds freely in Florida when not
pastured too closely. The seed produced in the State seem to
germinate as'well as the introduced seed. Propagation may be
by either seed or by root cuttings. If seed are used, 20 pounds
are needed to sow an acre.

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Fig. 9. This carpet grass pasture is located on the edge of a hammock, but it is gradually spreading back into the hammock as the
trees are thinned out sufficiently to allow enough sunshine through to induce the grass to grow. Located in Hernando County.

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Fig. 10. A pasture with a stand of Bahia grass as good as this one is a profitable investment.

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I'. 11 Steers do well on a Bahia grass pasture like this one. .
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FIG 11 tesd elo ai gaspsuelk hsoe



Centipede grass (Eremochloa aphiuroides) was introduced from
China by the Office of Foreign Plant Introduction, United States
Department of Agriculture, in 1918 and 1919. This grass was
at first called "Hunan grass," as it was obtained from the prov-
ince of Hunan, China. The name "centipede" has since been
applied to it, and it is now better known as centipede grass than
by any other name.
It is a perennial, forming a dense, close sod, and seldom grows
more than three or four inches high. The surface runners, how-
ever, may make a growth of six to eight feet in length during
one season. The grass will grow under a moderate amount of
shade as well as in exposed areas.
So far centipede grass has been grown to only a limited extent
as a pasture grass in Florida, although considerable attention
has been given to it as a lawn grass. Wherever it has been used
as a pasture grass, it has given very satisfactory results, as it
stands grazing well and stock seem to relish it.
PRoPAGATION.-Centipede grass may be propagated by root
cuttings, stem cuttings, and seed. At the present time no seed
are produced in the United States, which makes it necessary to
propagate by root and stem cuttings.
The growth obtained from root and stem cuttings has been
found quite satisfactory if plantings are made when there is suf-
ficient moisture in the ground to insure growth. Best results
will generally be obtained if new growth is used for planting
The material may be prepared in two ways for planting. The
stems may be cut in pieces from four to six inches in length;
these are then set in the ground, leaving from one-fourth to one-
third of the stem to remain above ground. If the soil is moist,
roots and new growth will start in a very few days.
Another method of preparing the planting material is to cut
the stems into short pieces about one inch in length and scatter
the cuttings broadcast over the surface of the soil, after which
they are covered from a quarter to a half inch deep with soil.
The surface soil should be kept moist until new growth has be-
come well established.
The few trials that have been made with gathering and plant-
ing the seed have been fairly satisfactory. Tests at the Florida
Experiment Station showed about 65 per cent germination.

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Fig. 12. Cattle grazing on centipede grass in Central Florida.


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g 13 Bermuda grass pasture Alahu~ Cunty
Fig 13 Bemud grss astre.AlahuaCouty



Almost every farmer in the Southeastern States knows Ber-
muda grass (Capriola dactylon) by sight. In fact, a great many
farmers know it so well that they despise the land upon which it
grows. Bermuda grass, it is true, is a problem in many culti-
vated fields; nevertheless, it is one of the important pasture
grasses in the southeastern part of the United States.
This is not a native grass of the United States, but probably
came from India, although it is now found in all tropical and
sub-tropical parts of the world. The exact date of its first ap-
pearance in this country is not known, although it is known to
have been here for at least 125 years.
PROPAGATION.-Bermuda grass is a perennial which spreads by
runners on the surface of the ground, making roots at every joint.
It also produces underground root-stocks that form new plants
at every joint. The surface runners under favorable condition
often make a growth of from 20 to 25 feet in length during one
season. Seed are also produced, although there has been some
question in certain localities as to whether the seed produced
would germinate. In the majority of cases, however, a fair
amount of seed will usually germinate and grow.
When seed cannot be obtained for starting a pasture, Ber-
muda grass sod may be taken up and cut into small pipees and
scattered over the surface of the ground, after which it i< plowed
under. It is necessary for enough moisture to be in the ground
to insure growth of the plants if cuttings are used.
If seed are sown, it is best to have a well-prepared seedbed,
using from 20 to 25 pounds of seed to the acre. The seed are
covered with a light tooth harrow. When Bermuda is mixed
with other grasses, an equal amount of seed of each of the grasses
should be used so as to make the total amount of seed equal from
25 to 30 pounds per acre.
SoIms.-Bermuda grass will grow on almost any well drained
land, but more grazing is secured when planted on a fertile soil
that contains a fair amount of humus. On light, sandy land, how-
ever, it makes an unsatisfactory growth and produces but a small
amount of grazing.

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Fig. 14. A good Bermuda grass pasture in South Florida. A pasture like this will carry more than one cow per acre for the entire
year. Note the heavy crop of Napier grass in the background. Courtesy M. U. Mounts.



Japan clover (Lespedeza striata) is one of the hardiest mem-
bers of the clover family, and is found growing in nearly all of
the Southern States. Being a legume, it is particularly desirable
in a pasture grass mixture since it increases the feeding value of
the pasturage.
Japan clover, however, is of more value for grazing when
seeded with one or more of the better permanent pasture grasses,
as it does not furnish grazing at all seasons of the year. It is an
annual, but reseeds well each year even when grazed closely.
This habit of reseeding causes some people to think it is a peren-
When soil conditions are suitable, this legume is quite aggres-
sive and will make a good growth during late spring and summer.
During the fall and winter months very little growth will be
noticeable, and those not familiar with its habit of growth may
think it was killed out by the summer grazing. When the ground
has become warmed up in the spring, however, and there is suffi-
cient moisture to induce germination, the legume will come back
as vigorous as the year before.
SoIs.-Japan clover will not grow on the dry, sandy ridges or
on land that is subject to overflow. It makes its best growth on
a fertile, well drained soil that retains moisture well.
SEEDING.-It is best to seed Japan clover with one or more per-
manent pasture grasses. When seeded in a grass mixture, from
five to ten pounds of Japan clover seed are required to the acre.
Seeding may be done any time from March 1 to July 1.


A pasture must be given considerable attention the first year or
two after planting if it is to furnish the maximum amount of
grazing. After the land has been properly prepared and the
grass once started, the real care of the pasture begins.
All of the grasses discussed in this bulletin are sun-loving
grasses-in other words, they make better growth and furnish
more pasturage when grown in the open rather than under shade
or part shade. This is particularly true of the young seedlings,
for only a little shade will retard the growth of the young grass.
It is therefore important to keep all weed growth mowed so that
the grass will not be shaded. It may be necessary to mow the
pasture two or three times during the first year. If a good stand
of grass is secured the first year, very little mowing will be re-
quired after the second year. Mowing should always be done
before any weeds mature a crop of seed.
(See Figs. 15 and 16).

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Fig. 15. This pasture needs mowing. The weeds are beginning to shade the young grass, which keeps the grass from growing and
spreading as rapidly as It should.

Fig. 16. Briars and weeds prevent this from being a good pasture, It would be desirable to cut the briars out and mow about twice
during the summer for a period of two years, at the same time keeping it grazed closely, and a much better pasture will develop.



The annual burning of pastures in Florida does a great deal
more harm than good. It not only burns up the grass and weeds
not grazed by cattle the previous year, but it destroys the nutri-
tious pasture grasses and kills the pine trees that are being estab-
lished. The ordinary wire grass is all that is left after the pas-
ture has been burned, thus reducing the grazing value of the
land very considerably. If one hopes to maintain a first-class,
permanent pasture, it is absolutely necessary that fire be kept
When a pasture has been grazed fairly closely, there will be no
surplus of dead grass and weeds on the land. But, on the other
hand, the old grass and weeds do the land more good when left
on the pasture than by being removed. First, the grass and
weeds left on the land increase the humus and nitrogen content
of the soil through the decomposition of the vegetative material,
such as leaves, stems, and dead roots. Second, the humus added
to the soil increases the water-holding capacity so that there is
more soil moisture available for the new crop of grass each suc-
ceeding year. Third, all old grass and weeds remaining on the
pasture act as a mulch in decreasing evaporation, which also
means more soil moisture is available for the new crop of grass
each year.
Grazing improves a permanent pasture. In the first place,
grazing causes the grasses to form a complete sod over the sur-
face of the ground more quickly than when not grazed. Of course,
it is possible to over-graze a pasture, even to the extent of killing
out the grass. Nevertheless, the pasture should be grazed down
close enough so that the livestock will be grazing off new growth
every two or three days. The new growth is more tender and
nutritious than old or mature grass. After most grasses become
four to six inches high, they become more or less dry and fibrous,
and a large part of the material is indigestible.
No definite statement can be made as to how many animals an
acre will graze. This depends entirely upon the character of the
land and the amount of growth the grass produces. However,
the pasture should be observed every few days and if there is any
evidence of the grass growing faster than it is being grazed down,
more animals should be added to the pasture. On the other hand,
if a drought prevails and the grass is being grazed too closely,
enough animals ought to be removed to give the grass a chance
to make as much new growth as the livestock need each day.
In other words, it is necessary to watch the growth of the grass
and keep the grass grazed just close enough so that all grass in
the pasture will be grazed down at least every ten days or two

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.. . . . .. .- . ,.

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." .. .. .- =' .,' i^ ."-- . 4i -* ' "i 6 '"'). ." -". .- .' .. -.

Fig. 17. A first class carpet grass and lespedeza pasture in West Florida.

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Fig. 18. Cows grazing on carpet grass and lespedeza in Jefferson County, Florida.



Figure 19 is worthy of a good deal of study, for there is much
information in it that should be understood by those who are
interested in getting the most value from their pastures. The
grasses mentioned are not found growing in Florida, but the
information given will apply to carpet grass, Dallis grass, wire
grass, or, in fact, any pasture grass.
The constituents of grass that are of major importance so far
as food value is concerned are protein, nitrogen free extract, and
ether extract. The protein supplies the muscle and tissue build-
ing part of the food. The ether extract supplies the fat, and the
nitrogen free extract supplies the sugar and starches used in the
production of fat in the animal body. Crude fiber has but little
food value, as it is that part of the grass which is indigestible.
It is interesting to note that grasses cut four times during the
growing season contain a much larger percentage of protein than
when cut only once during the same length of time. In the first
instance, grass cut four times contained almost 20 per cent crude
protein, but about 11 per cent when cut only once. In the second
case, grass cut four times contained about 25.5 per cent crude
protein, while that cut only once contained 16 per cent crude
protein. In the third instance, grass cut four times contained
23 per cent crude protein, and that cut once contained only 13
per cent crude protein.
In each case when the grass was cut four times during the
season, it contained practically one-half more crude protein than
when the grass was cut only once during the same length of
time. One should also consider the fact that grass cut only once
during the season contained much more crude fiber than that cut
four times.
Figure 20 shows graphically the results of an experiment com-
paring wire grass with carpet grass pasture. On the wire grass
pasture, the cattle made fairly good gains from early spring up
to the middle of June, but from then on to November they lost
in weight nearly all they had gained in the spring. This is due
chiefly to the fact that wire grass becomes mature about June,
the stems and grass blades becoming woody and fibrous, which
results in a large part of the grass being indigestible. Material
that becomes indigestible loses all of its food value.


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Fig. 19. Chart comparing the food value of grasses cut at different stages
of development. From Farmers' Bulletin 1405, U. S. D. A.

'C;'CVTA.' 991' 4I rplir.)

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Fig. 20. Chart showing comparative average gains made by cattle when grazing on carpet grass and
when grazing on wire grass or native pasture (Coastal Plain Experiment Station, McNeill, Miss.)

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i ,; V' ? * .,

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Fig. I. A nire grass pasture typical of

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that found in many Florida counties. Lots of grass, but of little food value, except dur-
ing April, May, and June.


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Fig. 22. Pure fresh water is an important consideration on any farm. Here is a spring that su pplies the livestock on the farm with
fresh water, while a ram (indicated by arrow) pumps water to the house.
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fres waer whl idctdb row up ae otehue



The amount and kind of fertilizer to apply to a pasture de-
pends largely upon the character of the soil on which the pasture
is located. A sufficient amount of fertilizer work has not been
done, however, to enable one to give very definite instructions.
On some of the flatwoods soils, 200 to 300 pounds of super-
phosphate per acre as the first application has shown results that
were noticeable for several years. It is advisable, however, to
apply on most of the Florida soils from 250 to 300 pounds per
acre of a complete fertilizer analyzing 3 per cent ammonia, 8
per cent superphosphate, and 4 per cent potash as the first appli-
cation. The best time to apply this application is soon after the
grass has been planted.
Fertilizing after the pasture has been established should be
as follows: Apply nitrate of soda or sulphate of ammonia, or
some other quickly available form of ammonia, at the rate of 50
to 60 pounds per acre about three times a year, or a total of 150
to 180 pounds of fertilizer a year. The first application should
be applied the latter part of March, the second application the
latter part of June or early in July, and the third application
about September 15.
The reason for putting the fertilizer on in three applications
instead of one is to reduce leaching of the fertilizer to the min-
Some people may question the advisability of fertilizing pas-
ture grasses. However, sufficient evidence is available at this
time to show that not only is more grass produced per acre when
given a liberal application of fertilizer, but that the grass pro-
duced contains a much larger amount of protein.

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Fig. 23. A well sodded carpet grass and lespedeza pasture in Leon County.

Fig. 24. Cutover pine land with considerable growth of wire grass. Young pines in the background.



Fig. 25. The pine trees are too close together to allow growth of grass.

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/ *f: .

Fig. 26. Too much palmetto, gallberry. and running oak to make good pasture.



While people may not agree on the definition of a good pas-
ture, it must be admitted that a pasture is generally good when
it will produce beef, mutton, and milk in profitable amounts dur-
inig the grazing season. Some pastures may produce 75 or 100
pounds of beef per acre during one grazing season. Another
pasture may produce 250 to 300 pounds to the acre. At the
same time it may appear that there was more grass on the acre
of land that produced only 75 to 100 pounds of beef than on the
land that produced 300 pounds. Hence, quality is often as im-
portant in a pasture as quantity. Wire grass and broom sedge
may be anywhere from knee to waist high all over the pasture
and yet the cattle grazing on it may lose in weight instead of
A second factor that one should strive for is to have the stand
of grass as near perfect as possible, for the more perfect the
stand the better the pasture will be from the standpoint of fur-
nishing the most grazing.
Another important point in a good pasture is the permanency
of the grass. A perennial is of more value than a biennial or
annual grass.
Still another factor to consider is whether or not there is an
abundant supply of pure, fresh water available to the livestock
on the pasture. When livestock are compelled to go long dis-
tances for water, the pasture will not produce the most satisfac-
tory results.
To sum up, then, a good pasture is one well-sodded with a per-
ennial grass of the best quality, and with an abundant supply of
pure water readily available to the stock.


Seed of carpet grass, Dallis grass, Bermuda grass and lespe-
deza can be purchased from any of the larger seed dealers in the
South. Bahia and centipede grass seed are not on the market in
this country at the present time. Bahia grass seed can be ob-
tained only by importing from Cuba, Central America or South
America, while centipede grass seed can be obtained only by
importing from China. An effort is now being made to get some
reliable seed dealer to handle these last two mentioned grasses.
Para grass roots may be obtained from almost any one in South
Florida who grows this grass.
Any one having trouble locating a supply of grass seed should
get in touch with his county agent, or write to the Experiment
Station, Gainesville, Fla., or the State Department of Agricul-
ture, Tallahassce, Fla.

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