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Forage Bermudagrass Varieties

Posted May 31, 1999

Bermudagrass is a warm-season perennial grass that was introduced from Africa as early as the mid-1700's. It has been used for grazing, hay, turf, and erosion control. In the United States, improved varieties have been developed for over fifty years. This article will discuss some of the basic information about these varieties, focusing on those that are adapted to The Noble Research Institute service region. Effort was devoted to making sure all regionally adapted varieties were included, however some varieties may have been inadvertently omitted.

Alicia is a bermudagrass adapted to the eastern portions of Oklahoma and Texas. Alicia has a yield potential similar to Coastal; however, forage quality of Alicia is lower than most other bermudagrasses. In addition, it is susceptible to rust. The reason for planting Alicia in the past was that it establishes easily from tops.

Brazos bermudagrass was developed by the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and jointly released with USDA Soil Conservation Service (USDA-SCS), USDA-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), and the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station (LAES). Brazos is well adapted south of the Brazos River and survival is adequate in north Texas. It is somewhat slower to establish than Coastal and is lower yielding on sandy soil. Brazos is better adapted to heavy-textured soils than Coastal. Brazos has higher forage quality and animal performance than Coastal. It has larger leaves and stems than Coastal producing coarser hay that may not be as easily marketed.

Cheyenne is a selected line that has performed well in Georgia and may have potential in Oklahoma and Texas where a seeded variety is desired. Adaptation to Oklahoma and Texas conditions is not well understood at this time.

Coastal was the first hybrid bermudagrass developed in the United States. It was released by the Georgia Coastal Plain Experiment Station (GCPES) and USDA-ARS. Coastal is widely adapted in the lower South. In Oklahoma its range of adaptation is limited primarily to the first tier of counties along the Red River.

Grazer is a low growing bermudagrass that was released by the LAES and USDA-ARS. It is adapted to a wide range of soils and produces a dense stand. Because of its low growth habit it is not well suited as a hay crop. Grazer tends to have lower yields but higher forage quality than Coastal, Brazos, Midland, and Tifton 44. A northern limit to its range of adaptation has not been established; it may be slightly less winter-hardy than Coastal bermudagrass.

Greenfield is an intermediate common type released by the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station (OAES). It is a winter-hardy variety that is well adapted to Oklahoma. Greenfield forms a dense sod and has a lower yield potential than Midland.

Guymon bermudagrass is a seeded variety released by the OAES primarily for erosion control and soil stabilization. It is adapted to all of Oklahoma. Forage yield of Guymon is less than that of other adapted varieties such as Midland and Midland 99.

Hardie bermudagrass was also released by the OAES. It has higher forage quality than Midland and similar yield potential. Hardie tends to perform poorer than Midland in the summer with better performance in spring and fall. In addition, Hardie is susceptible to leaf spot diseases and does not tolerate acid soils limiting its adaptation in eastern Oklahoma and states further east.

Jiggs is a new variety whose range of adaptation is not yet fully known. It will most likely be limited to south of Interstate 20. Jiggs has rapid establishment and is somewhat susceptible to leaf rust.

Midland is a hybrid between Coastal and a winter-hardy common bermudagrass that was released by the OAES, GCPES, and USDA-ARS. It has earlier greenup than Coastal; however, yields are lower than Coastal when grown where Coastal does not suffer winter injury. Midland is well adapted to all of Oklahoma and is recommended for the northern portion of the bermudagrass-producing region.

Midland 99 is a new variety of bermudagrass that was released by the OAES, Noble Research Institute, and USDAARS. Midland 99 is adapted to a wider area than Midland.Yields in southern Oklahoma have been similar to Coastal. It has consistently out-yielded Midland and Greenfield and yields have been equal to or greater than Tifton 44.

Quickstand bermudagrass was jointly released by the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and USDA-ARS Plant Materials Center. It is more winter-hardy than both Midland and Hardie. Quickstand establishes quickly, and is low growing (5-6 inches) making it better suited for grazing than for hay.

Russell bermudagrass was released by the AlabamaAgricultural Experiment Station and LAES. It is adapted to sandy loams and appears to be somewhat more winter-hardy than Coastal. Russell has out-produced Coastal and other hybrid bermudagrasses in high rainfall areas. However, yield potential under drier conditions is not known.

Suwannee was released by the by GCPES and USDA-ARS. It has a more open sod than Coastal. Suwanne has improved yields on deep sands as compared to Coastal. Adaptation of this variety outside of the southeastern United States has not been reported.

The GCPES and USDA released Tifton 44 bermudagrass. It is a winter-hardy variety that is widely adapted in Oklahoma and north Texas. Tifton 44 has finer stems than Coastal and forms a denser sod. Forage quality is higher and yields are similar to Coastal in areas where both are adapted. It is more resistant to leaf diseases than Midland.

Tifton 85 bermudagrass was released by the GCPES and USDA-ARS. It is adapted to sands and well-drained clay soils. Its northern limit is not well established but will most likely not extend into Oklahoma. Tifton 85 has improved yields and digestibility when compared to Coastal. Its leaves and stems are darker green and larger than those of Coastal bermudagrass. Yields in the establishment year are potentially higher than for other bermudagrasses.

Wrangler is a new variety of bermudagrass that is established from seed. Forage yields of Wrangler arepotentially higher than yields of Guymon. It is a variety that has not been widely evaluated at this time.

World Feeder and Gordon's Gift bermudagrasses are proprietary products of Agricultural Enterprises of Oklahoma City. They are both winter-hardy and adapted to much of Oklahoma as well as other states.

There are several seeded varieties available that are blends with giant bermudagrass. Giant bermudagrass is not winter-hardy and stands tend to become dominated by the other component of the blend. Ranchero Frio is a mixture of Cheyenne and giant. TexasTough is 33% giant and 67% common, while Tierra Verde is 50% giant and 50% common. These varieties are currently being evaluated. The place for these varieties is on shallow or rocky soils where the hybrids can not be planted or on soils where the hybrids can not reach their yield potential.

As you can see there is much to consider in selecting a variety. Any mention of a specific variety does not imply endorsement by The Noble Research Institute.