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Publication #SS AGR 263

Bahiagrass: A Quick Reference1

Yoana C. Newman2

In Florida, bahiagrass is the most planted warm-season perennial. Two-thirds of improved pastures are planted with bahiagrass because of its excellent adaptation, ease of management, persistence under low fertilization and close grazing, as well as its relatively simple planting.

Origin

Native to South America, to equivalent latitude to that of northern Florida

Use

Most of the acreage is used for grazing, with some hay and sod production, and production of seed harvested from pastures. Prospective growers need to be aware of the limitations in quality and quantity compared with other forage options.

Adaptation

pH: 5.5 to 6.5. High pH (approximately > 6.5) will start negatively affecting production.

Soil: Low to high fertility; sand to clay, dry to wet Rainfall: > 35 inches

Climate: Subtropical and humid regions; coastal plains

Management Practices

Planting date: March (if irrigated) or during summer (June-August; rainy season)

Planting rate: 15 lb/acre or 25-30 lb/acre (low rates will have more initial competition with weeds).

Planting depth: 1/4 – 1/2 inch maximum. A common mistake is to plant it too deep.

Fertilization

Planting: As soon as plants have emerged, apply 30 lb Nitrogen (N)/acre, all phosphorus (P205) and 50% of potassium (K20) recommended in soil test. 30-40 days later, apply rest of the potassium plus 70 lb N/acre.

Grazing:

Low input system: 50 lb N/acre/yr only; P205 as per recommendation based on soil and tissue tests; no phosphorus (P205), and no potassium (K20).

Medium input system: 100 lb N/acre/year; P205 as per recommendation based on soil and tissue tests; or (tissue P is less than 0.15%), and 50 lb K20/acre/year.

High input system: 160 lb N/acre/year (80 lb N/acre in spring + 80 lb N/acre in fall), P205, and K20 as per soil and tissue test recommendation.

Hay: 80 lb N/acre/cut + P205, and K20 as per soil test recommendation. Do not apply any fertilizer after mid-August.

Seed production: In hay fields, same recommendation as above. If grazing, 60-80 lb N/acre in Feb or Mar, when seed heads appear remove cattle and apply 60-80 lb N/acre.

Weed Control

Seedlings are susceptible to phenoxy-type herbicides (2,4-D or Banvel); spray only when plants are 8 inches tall.

Pensacola-type (Pensacola, Tifton 9, UF-Riata, and TifQuick) bahiagrass will be severely injured by metsulfuron herbicide (examples are MSM 60, Cimarron Xtra, and others).

Pests and control

Mole crickets. Control with nematode biological control applications, and also biologically with the Larra wasp that is attracted to the shrubby buttonweed (Spermacoe verticillata).

Additional Information

Please visit the Forages of Florida website for additional information on Bahiagrass or any other pasture or forage-related topic. You can access it by typing Forages of Florida in Google, or click the link below.

Bahiagrass. Forages of Florida website http://agronomy.ifas.ufl.edu/ForagesofFlorida/detail.php?sp=Bahiagrass&type=G

Tables

Table 1. 

Bahiagrass

Description

Yield

(lb/acre/year)

Quality*

Cold Tolerance

Seasonality

Common

(not recommended)

Short, broad leaves

Very Low

Very Low

Sensitive

 

Pensacola

Long, narrow leaves

3500-10000

Low

FL - panhandle

Mar-Oct

Tifton 9

Longer leaves than Pensacola

30% more

than Pensacola

Low

Some

1 more week of growth than Pensacola

TifQuik

Similar to

Tifton 9

Slight yield increase over Tifton 9 in first year

Low

Some

Developed for rapid germination and quick establishment

UF Riata

Similar to

Tifton 9

Higher seasonal tonnage than Argentine, Pensacola, and Tifton 9

Low

Good

Developed for fall and early spring forage production

Argentine

Wider leaves

Less seed heads

 

Low

Low

No growth in early spring

Bahiagrass

Purity

Light

Seed**

Germination

Dormant

Seed ***

Seed

Yield

Pensacola

95-98

3-5

50-60

25-30

50-120

Tifton 9

95-98

3-5

60-70

15-25

 

Argentine

80 ‡

20

85-90

10-15

150-200

UF Riata

98

2

85-90

<10

(variety protected, cannot be grown for seed)

* Quality is measured as crude protein (CP) and digestibility. Low is CP= 8-9% and digestibility= 45-60%.

** Light seed refers to the inert (dead) material in samples. The inert material is the part of the seed called "glume" or the shell that encases the cariopsis (true seed in grasses).

*** Refers to seed other than hard seed that will neither germinate nor decay during the prescribed test period and condition.

† Selection out of Pensacola for higher germination and less dormant seed.

‡ Less than Pensacola due to Ergot.

Footnotes

1.

This document is SS AGR 263, one of a series of the Agronomy Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date December 2007. Revised February 2011. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Yoana C. Newman, assistant professor, Agronomy Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. UF/IFAS does not guarantee or warranty the products named, and references to them in this publication does not signify our approval to the exclusion of other products of suitable composition. All chemicals should be used in accordance with directions on the manufacturer's label.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.