Farm Progress

MU Extension says now is the time to fill summer pasture gaps with bermudagrass.

May 25, 2017

1 Min Read
beef cattle grazing in green pasture

May is a good time to convert to a warm-season grass in cattle forage operations according to Tim Schnakenberg, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

"Bermudagrass is a paradigm change for most producers north of the Mason-Dixon Line, but most producers I know who try it are satisfied — and for many producers, it will complement their fescue operation very well," says Schnakenberg.

Two tactics
Bermudagrass fills the summer gap for both hay and grazing. Missouri producers would do well to convert much of their hay operation to a warm-season grass and focus on grazing their fescue.

"I think the best fit for bermudagrass is to hay the first growth, then graze it the remainder of the summer," says Schnakenberg.

Another approach is to dedicate some bermuda fields to haying all summer.

"You can almost take another harvest off of bermudagrass every 30 days if needed. Tonnage produced can be astounding if water and fertility are not limited," says Schnakenberg.

The practice of harvesting fescue hay does not always match up well with the climate of Missouri. It is important, according to Schnakenberg, for producers to do their homework on variety selection.

Seed selection
Winter-hardiness and tonnage are important factors to consider in Missouri.

Recent Arkansas variety data have shown that sprigged varieties are higher-yielding than seeded varieties.

The cost of establishment is much higher for sprigged varieties, however. Seeded varieties still produce great yield, even in comparison to fescue.

Producers of bermudagrass often find that hay yields can easily double those of fescue, even though the growing season is much shorter. Seeding or sprigging should be done in May, if possible. No-tilling seed is an option if the drill has sharp coulters and lots of weight. It's important not to plant too deep.

Source: University of Missouri Extension

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