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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Bermudagrass for Forage in the Central U. S. Transitional Climatic Zone1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 73 No. 2, p. 313-316
    Received: Mar 28, 1980

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  1. J. J. Faix,
  2. C. J. Kaiser and
  3. F. C. Hinds2



Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) is adapted to and is grown widely throughout the central US transitional climatic zone, a zone extending from south central Missouri across southern Illinois and eastward. Productivity and forage quality of fescue are favorable in early spring and fall but commonly decline to low levels during the summer. Improved bermudagrass may have potential to supplement tall fescue in the summer in this zone. New cold-hardy, high yielding, more digestible bermudagrasses developed in Georgia and Oklahoma breeding programs may be suitable for more northern areas.

Experimental hybrids developed in the above programs and certain ecotypes were evaluated from 1974 through 1979 on a fine-silty, mixed, mesic Type Fragiudalf soil in southern Illinois at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, 37° 26’ N, 88° 40’ W. Under 4 to 6 week harvest intervals, 11 of 17 bermudagrass entries yielded an average of 8.34 to 13.46 metric tons/ha dry matter annually. Georgia hybrids 72-44 (now ‘Tifton 44’) and 72-45 provided high yield, good seasonal yield distribution, and were undamaged by winter cold from 1974 to 1977. However, after two subsequent hard winters, spring recovery was markedly delayed. Early spring growth of ‘Hardie’ and ‘Midland’ was always vigorous but summer production of these cultivars was often decreased by leaf disease.

Average in vitro digestibility (IVD) for the bermudagrasses ranged from 43.8 to 50.6y0 and crude protein (CP) 11.0 to 13.8y0 from 1975 through 1977. Differences between entries for IVD and CP were small. It is concluded that bermudagrass such as Tifton 44 and hybrid 72-45 which were resistant to leaf disease could improve summer forage production in the transitional climatic zone of the USA. However, spring removery of these lines may be retarded following abnormally hard winters.

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