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Oklahoma Bermudagrass Variety Performance Tests: 2016-2018 Forage Years

Introduction

Selecting the most appropriate variety of Bermudagrass is important when establishing perennial pastures. Variety will dictate the potential forage yield and quality for many years to come. Establishment method (sprigging vs. seeding), winter hardiness, site-specific adaptations, growth morphology (grazing vs. hay types) and forage quality are all traits that must be considered when deciding which Bermudagrass variety to plant. The fact sheet PSS-2600, Selecting an Appropriate Bermudagrass Variety for Pastures, discusses traits important for choosing the most appropriate variety for a specific location.

 

The purpose of this document is to compare the genetic differences in forage yield potential among commercially available sprigged and seeded Bermudagrass varieties. This information can give producers an indication of forage production potential of several varieties. The forage yields reported here are the results of research comparing varietal genetic potential, management factors such as planting date, seeding rate, soil fertility and environmental factors, such as temperature, rainfall amount and distribution. These environmental and management factors vary greatly from location to location and among Oklahoma’s geographic regions. A total of 13 varieties are being tested in four different locations across Oklahoma (Figure 1). Fact sheet PSS-2600 contains brief descriptions of the agronomic characteristics of all tested varieties.

 

Bermudagrass Performance test locations in Oklahoma Counties.

 

Figure 1. Bermudagrass Performance test locations.

 

Site Description and Methods

In 2016 and 2017, Bermudagrass variety performance tests were established at four locations. Forage yields have been, and will be, measured in the same plots for four successive years. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with four replications. Plots were established in a conventionally tilled, firm seedbed and lime, phosphate (P) and potash (K) were applied, according to soil test recommendations (Table 1), and incorporated 3 inches deep during seedbed preparation. Sprigged plots were planted at four sprigs per 10 square feet, which is similar to a rate of 40 to 50 bushels of sprigs per acre. Seeded plots were seeded at 15 pounds of pure live seed per acre, which corresponds to the highest recommended seeding rate among participating companies. When stolons were 3 inches long, 30 pounds of actual nitrogen per acre (65 pounds of urea per acre) was applied. Each year, after Bermudagrass broke dormancy and produced the first green leaves (at green-up), nitrogen was broadcast at a rate of 200 pounds per acre (440 pounds of urea per acre).

 

Plots were hand-weeded during the establishment phase to avoid potential herbicide injury. After establishment, preemergent (pendimethalin) and postemergent (glyphosate) were applied in late winter or early spring (before green-up), respectively. Early season weeds at green-up in early May were controlled by mowing at 2 to 3 inches. In-season weeds were controlled by hand-weeding and/or selective postemergent herbicides such as 2,4-D and dicamba.

 

Table 1. Location Information.

Locations
Establishment method
Establishment date
Soil texture
pH
N
STP
STK
Perkins
Sprigged
July 15, 2016
sandy loam
6.3
0
17
110
Chickasha
Sprigged
July 18, 2016
clay loam
6.6
3
67
510
Chickasha
Seeded
May 6, 2018
silt loam
6.4
9
76
336
Haskell
Sprigged/seeded
May 18, 2017
silt loam
7.1
4
42
103
Lane
Sprigged
May 20, 2017
sandy loam
6.9
5
18
122
 STP: soil test P index; STK: soil test K index
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Forage was measured by hand clipping 1 inch above the soil surface in three 1-square-foot quadrats per plot. Plots were mowed and cleaned to simulate hay harvest immediately after sample collection. Samples were oven-dried until all samples were completely dry and total dry forage yield was assessed. Forage sampling occurred every six weeks, which generally resulted in three or four cuttings per year, depending on temperature and rainfall amount and distribution through the season.

 

Results

 

Sprigged Bermudagrass

 

Perkins

On July 15, 2016, Bermudagrass varieties were sprigged in Perkins. This was later than optimal. To alleviate the potential of sprig death from drought, a total of 3 inches of moisture through rainfall, supplemental irrigation or a combination of both was applied weekly during the first eight weeks after sprigging (mid-July to late August). In the first year of forage production, yields ranged from 4.08 to 7.44 tons per acre. No pests or environmental challenges were observed in 2017. In 2018, Bermudagrass dry yields ranged from 4.29 to 4.97 tons per acre. The reduced forage of 2018, compared to 2017, was primarily due to smaller second and third cuttings. Herbicides failed to control weeds during early stages. Mare’s tail (Conyza Canadensis L.) infestation reduced the second cutting forage yields. Consequently, field plots were hand weeded at four weeks of regrowth. Low rainfall during the first four weeks of regrowth reduced the third cutting yields.

 

Chickasha

On July 18, 2016, sprigged Bermudagrass varieties were planted in Chickasha. Weekly irrigation of 1 to 3 inches, combined with 5 inches of summer rainfall during the first seven weeks after sprigging (early July to late August) allowed successful establishment. Yields during the first production year ranged from 5.00 to 7.69 tons per acre. Absence of rainfall from late June to late July decreased the second cutting production in 2017. Armyworm (Pseudaletia unipuncta) infestation occurred in late August, but effective control was achieved by applying Lambda-cyhalothrin. The second-year production yields ranged from 6.57 to 9.79 tons per acre. Lack of rainfall from late June to early August decreased the third cutting production.

 

Haskell

On May 18, 2017, sprigged Bermudagrass performance trials were established in Haskell. The test received 13 inches of rainfall during the first eight weeks after planting, which aided in successful establishment. Low weed pressure and no insects or diseases occurred 2018. This, combined with a well-distributed rainfall throughout the growing season, allowed good forage production. The first-year production ranged from 4.95 to 7.59 tons per acre.

 

Lane

On May 20, 2017, a sprigged Bermudagrass performance test was established in Lane. In the establishment year, the test received 12 inches of rainfall during the first seven weeks after sprigging. The first-year production ranged from 5.24 to 7.31 tons per acre in 2018. No pests or abnormal conditions were observed in 2018, which ensured a good production year.

 

Table 2A. Sprigged Bermudagrass Performance test, Perkins 2017.

 

Cimarron Valley Research Station, Payne County

Entry
June 14, 2017
August 2, 2017
September 13, 2017
Total
 
 
Tons Dry Matter/Acre
 
 
Goodwell
3.53
2.03
1.89
7.44
Ozark
2.44
2.61
1.97
7.03
Midland99
2.54
2.37
1.72
6.63
Midland
2.75
2.23
1.3
6.27
Tifton44
2.5
2.17
1.48
6.15
Greenfield
1.9
1.14
1.03
4.08
Mean
2.61
2.09
1.57
6.27
5% LSD
0.75
0.49
NS
1.29

Table 2B. Sprigged Bermudagrass Performance test, Perkins 2018.

Entry
June 10, 2018
August 6, 2018
September 18, 2018
Total
 
Tons Dry Matter/Acre
 
 
 
Goodwell
2.16
1.53
1.28
4.97
Ozark
1.94
1.57
1.47
4.98
Midland99
2.17
1.45
1.33
4.95
Midland
1.98
1.46
1.22
4.67
Tifton44
2.13
1.48
1.16
4.77
Greenfield
1.9
1.33
1.06
4.29
Mean
2.04
1.46
1.25
4.76
5% LSD
NS
NS
0.39
NS

Design: Randomized Complete Block; plot size: 17- by 17-foot. planted

No. of Reps: 4

NS = not significant at p = 0.05

 

Data provided by the Plant & Soil Sciences Department at Oklahoma State University

 

Table 3A. Sprigged Bermudagrass Performance test, Chickasha 2017.

 

South Central Research Station, Grady County

Entry June 6, 2017 July 28, 2017 September 12, 2017 Total
  Tons Dry Matter/Acre      
Goodwell 3.51 1.88 2.30 7.69
Ozark 2.10 1.60 2.38 6.07
Midland99 2.41 1.55 2.37 6.32
Midland 2.11 1.18 2.24 5.54
Tifton44 1.83 1.08 2.23 5.00
Greenfield 3.67 0.94 1.91 6.66
Mean 2.60 1.37 2.24 6.21
5% LSD 0.88 0.53 NS 1.49ns

Table 3B. Sprigged Bermudagrass Performance test, Chickasha, 2018.

Entry June 12, 2018 August 3, 2018 September 20, 2018 Total
  Tons Dry Matter/Acre      
Goodwell 4.62 2.61 1.56 8.14
Ozark 4.71 3.23 2.05 9.18
Midland99 5.07 3.75 1.91 9.79
Midland 4.41 3.00 1.59 8.24
Tifton44 4.93 3.14 1.65 8.93
Greenfield 3.97 1.99 1.10 6.57
Mean 4.61 2.95 1.64 8.47
5% LSD NS 0.67 0.24 2.86

Table 4. Sprigged Bermudagrass Performance test, Haskell.

 

Eastern Research Station, Muskogee County

Entry
June 15, 2018
August 1, 2018
September 15, 2018
Total
 
Tons Dry Matter/Acre
 
 
 
Goodwell
3.29
1.95
1.99
6.24
Ozark
4.8
2.22
1.5
7.59
Midland99
4.31
1.76
1.34
6.64
Midland
4.04
1.66
1.25
6.22
Tifton44
4.14
1.56
1.2
6.2
Greenfield
3.53
1.06
0.82
4.95
Mean
4.01
1.69
1.34
6.3
5% LSD
0.62
0.32
0.21
2.44

Design: Randomized Complete Block; plot size: 8- by 17-foot planted

No. of Reps: 4

NS= not significant at p = 0.05

 

Data provided by the Plant & Soil Sciences Department at Oklahoma State University.

 

Table 5. Sprigged Bermudagrass Performance test, Lane.

 

Wes Watkins Research and Extension Center, Atoka County

Entry
June 14, 2018
August 2, 2018
September 29, 2018
Total
Tons Dry Matter/Acre
 
 
 
 
Goodwell
2.74
1.71
1.52
5.97
Ozark
3.26
2.16
1.95
7.37
Midland99
3.39
2
1.94
7.32
Midland
3.39
1.72
1.49
6.6
Tifton44
3.75
1.76
1.61
7.11
Greenfield
3.26
1.09
0.9
5.24
Mean
3.29
1.73
1.56
6.6
5% LSD
0.95
0.58
0.22
1.4

Design: Randomized Complete Block; plot size: 8- by 17-foot planted

No. of Reps: 4

NS= not significant at p = 0.05

 

Data provided by the Plant & Soil Sciences Department at Oklahoma State Universit

 

Seeded Bermudagrass

 

Chickasha

On June 28, 2017, a seeded Bermudagrass performance test was planted in Chickasha. In Oklahoma, seeding Bermudagrass is recommended from May to Mid-June. Consequently, seedling emergence occurred too late in the season and the test was not successfully established. Soil crusting from a short duration, high impact, 2-inch rainfall event 10 days after seeding prevented seedling emergence until late July, when soil cracks allowed seedling emergence. Bermudagrass seemed well established in late September, however, the stand did not regrow in 2018. A new test was established May 6, 2018 at Chickasha. This early planting was key for a successful establishment because it allowed fast seedling development at milder temperatures and a longer growing period for developing rhizomes and roots. Seedling emergence occurred after one week and a total of 4 inches of rain in the first five days. Bermudagrass stands achieved 90 to 100 percent groundcover in the next eight to nine weeks, after a total precipitation of 8 inches. Bermudagrass green-up was observed in all plots May 2019. Yields from this test will be reported in the future.

 

Haskell

On May 18, 2017, seeded Bermudagrass performance tests were established in Haskell. Three inches of rainfall in the first two weeks allowed good seedling emergence. This was followed by a total of 11 inches of rain in the next eight weeks, resulting in well-developed rhizomes and roots before dormancy, which are essential for winter survival.

 

Low weed pressure and no insects or diseases were observed in 2018. This, combined with well-distributed rainfall throughout the growing season, allowed good forage. The first-year production ranged from 4.39 to 6.99 tons per acre. All varieties survived the previous winter; however, Bermudagrass stands were uneven across plots for all seeded varieties.

 

Final Considerations

Differences among varieties across locations were observed; however, it is too early to conclude which varieties are more adapted to each location. Bermudagrass takes three to four years to establish and to show its final yield potential. These Bermudagrass variety performance tests will be continued to assist producers in making future variety decisions.

 

Acknowledgments

The authors want to thank the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station (OAES) superintendents Josh Massey, Michael Pettijohn, Rodney Farris and Jim Vaugham for conducting field management practices such as seedbed preparation, fertilization, weed/pest control and alley maintenance. Also, the authors thank Dr. Yanqui Wu, Meibergen Family Professorship in plant breeding and genetics (grasses), for providing the initial sprig materials for this study. This research was developed in collaboration with Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and partially funded by Pennington® seeds and Johnston Seeds Co.  

 

Table 6. Seeded Bermudagrass Performance test, Haskell.

 

Eastern Research Station, Muskogee County

Entry
Licensee
June 15, 2018
August 1, 2018
September 15, 2018
Total
 
 
Tons Dry Matter/Acre
 
 
 
Cheyenne II
Pennington®
2.55
1.01
1.09
4.65
Mohawk
Pennington®
2.35
1.4
0.96
4.71
Riata
Johnston Seed Co.
3.3
1.84
1.85
6.99
Sahara II
Pennington®
2.43
1.16
1.03
4.62
Stampede Plus
Johnston Seed Co.
2.44
2.12
2.15
6.71
Tierra Verde
Pennington®
3.3
1.33
1.24
5.87
Wrangler
Johnston Seed Co.
1.69
1.38
1.31
4.39
Mean
 
2.58
1.46
1.36
5.42
5% LSD
 
0.79
NS
NS
1.53

Design: Randomized Complete Block; plot size: 8- by 17-foot harvested

No. of Reps: 4

NS= not significant at p = 0.05

 

Data provided by the Plant & Soil Sciences Department at Oklahoma State University. 

 

Average daily temperature (line graph) and rainfall (bar graph) from April 15 to Oct. 15 in each respective location and year. Weather data courtesy of the Oklahoma Mesonet.Figure 2. Average daily temperature (line graph) and rainfall (bar graph) from April 15 to Oct. 15 in each respective location and year. Weather data courtesy of the Oklahoma Mesonet.

 

Alex Rocateli

Forage Systems Extension Specialist

 

Lucas Freires Abreu

Graduate Research Assistant, Forage Systems

 

Kyle Martin Horn

Former Graduate Research Assistant, Forage Systems

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