Establishing Bermudagrass Pasture

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Bermudagrass is well adapted to close, frequent defoliation because of its low-growing, creeping growth pattern. Because bermudagrass tolerates a wide range of conditions and management, it is often planted in small pastures and heavily grazed paddocks. Bermudagrass, especially the common types, can withstand
severe grazing pressure and trampling.

Selecting a Seed for Our Area
Cheyenne has a forage quality similar to hybrid Coastal, has exceptionally good persistence, is winter-hardy, and is quick to establish. Cheyenne II was released from improved selections of Cheyenne. It has been shown to match the yield and persistence of Cheyenne in initial evaluations. Cheyenne II is now being sold and used in seed blends such as Ranchero Frio.

Wrangler was developed from a germplasm at Oklahoma State. Wrangler has good cold hardiness and has good cover during the establishment year. CD90160 is used in seed blends due to its yield potential, winter hardiness, and persistence. Mohawk was developed from a turfgrass variety to provide high-
quality bermudagrass with cold tolerance. Mohawk shows cold tolerance in trials in Virginia. Recommendations are to purchase a blend that contains no more than 25 percent Giant and no common bermudagrass. Ranchero Frio is a blend of different varieties that may include Cheyenne, Cheyenne II, Mohawk, and Giant.

Common or “wiregrass” bermudagrass is related to the hybrid varieties and they share the same scientific name [Cynodon dactylon (L) Pers. Var. dactylon]. However, common bermudagrass produces many viable seeds, whereas hybrids, even though they make seed heads, are sterile and must be established
vegetatively from rhizomes, stolons, or mature stems. In North Carolina, there are many ecotypes of common bermudagrass, often called “wiregrass.” Common bermudagrass grows low, forming a dense sod with very short internodes; it spreads profusely by rhizomes, stolons, and seeds. During late summer, it
often suffers from severe leaf disease. During drought stress, it produces many short seed heads.

As long as internal soil drainage is good, bermudagrasses will grow well in a variety of soil types, including sands, loams, silts, and clays. Bermudagrass is adapted to a wide range of soil conditions but is best suited to a well-drained site. Plants may survive in poorly drained soils, but production potential is limited. It is not adapted to wet areas. Bermudagrass grows best at high temperatures (85 o F to 95 o F) and
grows very little when the night temperature falls below 60 o F. Bermudagrass grows best when soil pH is 5 .5 and higher, the ideal range is from 5 .8 to 6.

It is recommended to seed when the soil temperature is 65°F (usually after the first of May in North Carolina). Improved seeded bermudagrass is available in hulled, unhulled or hulled and clay-coated. The coating increases the size and weight of the seed to make broadcasting easier. If using a no-till drill or Brillion type cultipacker-seeder, uncoated seed may be preferred. Waiting for soil to be warm should
improve bermudagrass seedling vigor and disease resistance.

Seeded bermudagrass should be established into a well-packed, clean-tilled seedbed. Prepare the ground as soon as possible in the spring to allow the soil to settle. Weeds can be sprayed with glyphosate (Roundup) or paraquat (Gramoxone Max) to create a weed-free seed bed. Do not disturb the soil after spraying weeds. Seed can be broadcast and cultipacked into a firm seedbed. A way to determine if the seedbed is firm enough is to walk across the field and observe footprint depth. If your boot sinks deeper than 1/8 inch, the soil is not firm enough. Plantings can also be done using a no-till drill. Seeding depth must be controlled to make sure seed is not deeper than 1/4 inch.