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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 74 No. 6, p. 1044-1047
    Received: Oct 26, 1981

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Production and Quality of Four Bermudagrasses as Influenced by Rainfall Patterns1

  1. J. L. Griffin and
  2. V. H. Watson2



Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L. Pers.) is the major warmseason perennial forage crop used for beef production in the Southeast. Seedhead production is irregular and consequently cannot be used as an index of age or quality. Chronological age is, therefore, important in making management decisions. Since bermudagrass production and quality may vary with season and year, ‘Coastal’, ‘Alicia’, ‘Callie’, and common bermudagrass harvested at 2-, 4-, 6-, and 8-week intervals were evaluated over 2 years in northeast Mississippi on a Leeper fine sandy loam (fine, montmorillonitic, nonacid, thermic Vertic Haplaquept) soil.

During the 1975 growing season rainfall was generally adequate and total dry matter yields of Coastal, Alicia, and common bermudagrass harvested at the four intervals were similar. Forage yields of Callie, however, averaged 20% higher than the other grasses because of higher production during July and August. In 1976, rainfall was especially low during August (2.0 cm) and total yield of the hybrid bermudagrasses were similar averaging 72% higher than that of common. Lower total season yields of common were reflected in less regrowth during July and August. Averaged over the grasses, total forage yields harvested at 4-, 6-, and 8- week intervals were 2.6 metric tons/ha lower in 1976 than in 1975 and were related in general to higher early-season (June to July) forage yields in 1975 and limited regrowth in August and September 1976.

Crude protein (CP) was higher for Callie and common both years of the study. Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and acid detergent fiber (ADF) varied little among grasses or harvest intervals. The increase in CP (3.4 units) and decrease in NDF (3.8 units) observed in 1976 appeared related to rainfall patterns, variation in regrowth potential among the grasses, and possible changes in the proportion of leafstem fractions. Averaged over years, Callie was higher in CP (11.9 vs. 10.3%) and digestible dry matter (55.3 vs. 53.0%), and lower in lignin (5.2 vs. 5.7%) than the other grasses.

Results suggest that selection of hybrid bermudagrasses over common should be based mainly on their potential to produce significantly more dry matter when moisture is limiting.

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