I am pleased to announce that the Noble Research Institute is joining with the Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas Agricultural Experiment Stations (AES's) along with the Agriculture Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, in the cooperative release of the new bermudagrass variety, Ozark.
Ozark, which was tested as 74X 12-6, is an F1 hybrid that was bred by Dr. Charles Taliaferro and William L. Richardson of the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, Oklahoma State University. Ozark exhibits excellent cold tolerance and has yielded well in Oklahoma and the northern part of the bermudagrass belt. Ozark's superior cold tolerance, stand persistence, adaptation, production and quality when grown in southern Missouri and Kansas make it unique among released bermudagrass varieties.
Ozark has been evaluated in small plot performance trials in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas over several years. In Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station (OAES) tests, Ozark yielded similarly to Tifton 44, Hardie and Midland 99, but produced significantly more forage than Midland, World Feeder, Quickstand and Greenfield. The Noble Research Institute has tested the variety since 1990 in two separate trials near Ardmore. In an early trial conducted in the years 1990-1996, Ozark yielded similarly to Midland 99 and Coastal, but produced 16 percent and 17 percent more forage than Tifton 44 and Midland, respectively. In a recent study, 1996-2001, Ozark has produced average yields that are similar to Coastal, but six percent more than Midland 99, 17 percent more than Tifton 44, 25 percent more than Midland, and 47 percent more than Quickstand. In almost every yield trial conducted by the Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas AES's, it has yielded as much or more forage than any other variety. The forage quality of Ozark, as indicated by laboratory tests of digestibility, crude protein, and crude fiber has been similar to or better than, other high-yielding bermudagrass varieties.
Ozark is similar to Midland 99, Midland and Tifton 44 in morphology and growth habit. It has relatively tall, upright growth in comparison to more decumbent varieties such as Greenfield and Quickstand. Its stem diameter, shoot length, and leaf width are similar to Midland 99, Midland, and Tifton 44. The leaves of Ozark tend to be longer than those of Midland and Tifton 44, but similar to Midland 99. Like most hybrid bermudagrasses, it sets only a few seeds and therefore must be established by conventional sprigging. It produces vigorous underground rhizomes. It's establishment characteristics appear to be similar to Midland 99, Midland and Tifton 44. A planting rate of at least 25 to 30 bushels of sprigs per acre, combined with good weed control and fertility management is recommended to hasten establishment. There have been no unusual and/or severe insect or disease problems with Ozark.
Three classes of planting stock (Breeder, Foundation, and Certified) of Ozark will be recognized. Breeder stock will be maintained by the OAES. Foundation stock will be produced by the Missouri Foundation Seed Stocks in Missouri and the Oklahoma Foundation Seed Stocks (OFSS) in Oklahoma. Foundation class propagating stock will be available to the public in spring 2002 from both agencies.