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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Maintaining Tall Fescue Stands in Association with Bahiagrass1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 70 No. 4, p. 649-652
    Received: Oct 28, 1977

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  1. C. S. Hoveland,
  2. R. F. McCormick Jr.,
  3. E. L. Carden,
  4. R. Rodriguez-Kabana and
  5. J. T. Shelton2



Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flugge) generally dominates the sward when grown in association with tall rescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) in the lower southeastern U.S. If a management system could be devised to maintain tall rescue in association with bahiagrass, this mixture could provide grazing over a longer season than either of the two grasses when grown alone. The objective of this study was to determine the influence of rates and time of N application and stubble height on persistence and productivity of a tall fescue-bahiagrass sward. ‘Pensacola’ bahiagrass was overseeded on established ‘Kentucky 31’ tall rescue at two field locations in central (typic hapludult, fine-loamy siliceous soil) and southern (typic hapludult, coarse-loamy, siliceous soil) Alabama. Five rates of winter and summer-applied N were used in combination with summer rest and summer stubble heights of 10 and 4 cm over a 3-year period to measure seasonal forage production and persistence. Winter application of 224 kg N/ha and summer resting or summer cutting at a 10 cm stubble resulted in best tall rescue persistence. Summer cutting to a 4-cm stubble reduced tall rescue stands and production, regardless of N rates or time of application. Total forage yields were highest when bahiagrass dominated the sward. Tall rescue persisted better in central than in southern Alabama. Seasonal productivity of a tall fescue-bahiagrass mixture during the third year was best with a winter N rate of 224 kg/ha N and summer stubble height of 10 cm. Both summer N and close clipping accelerated the shift from tall rescue to bahiagrass. This study emphasized the difficulty of maintaining tall rescue stands in association with bahiagrass. Nematode populations build to high levels in these sandy loam soils and seriously damage tall rescue while bahiagrass is relatively tolerant. Only under high rates of winter N fertilization and a high summer stubble height was it possible to maintain tall fescue in the mixture in central Alabama. Further south, bahiagrass can be expected to dominate the sward in a few years, regardless of management.

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