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Southeast Area Specialist OCES

Bermuda Grass FAQ

What is the yield potential of Bermuda grass in S.E. Oklahoma?

Under high fertility, some of the newer varieties of Bermuda have the potential to produce above 6 tons of forage when high rates of nitrogen are applied on deep, moderately drained soils. With no fertility, on average, we expect 1 ton of production/year on Bermuda grass pastures. With the rainfall we receive in S.E. Oklahoma, 3 to 4 tons/ac is easy to accomplish under the proper soil fertility practices.

When is the best time to sprig a Bermuda grass pasture?

Mid February through Mid April is the best time. Later than this, we run into problems with excessive annual grass competition and moisture loss during the time the Bermuda grass is trying to spread.

When is the best time to Seed Bermuda grass in S.E. Oklahoma?

April and May are the months that will provide the best chance of establishing a stand.

What is the suggested seeding rate for Bermuda grass?

Plant 5 to 10 lbs of pls per acre on a fine firm seed bed.

How much Bermuda grass can I grow with 150 lb of Ammonium nitrate applied per acre?

150 lbs of Amm. Nitrate is about 50 units of N. A good rule of thumb is that for every addition 50 units of N added, we would  expect a ton of production. We normally expect Bermuda grass to produce 1 ton without fertilizer so adding 50 units of N should increase our production to 2 tons per acre. A better strategy would be to add 100 units of N to increase production to 3 tons per acre since the Bermuda is more efficient at these higher levels of nitrogen fertility. If the pasture has not been fertilized in previous years expect it to take two years before you see an increase in forage production. The first year application will be used by the plants to spread with little or no increase in forage production.

How important is phosphorus in Bermuda grass production?

Studies have shown that very low phosphorous soils can reduce forage production by as much as 50%.

When is the best time to fertilize Bermuda grass?

That depends! In pastures that have no cool season grasses in them like ryegrass, fertilizing from Mid April to the first of May would be recommended. If the pasture has ryegrass, fertilizing for the Bermuda growth should take place May 1 to June 1. If fertilized earlier than this the ryegrass will use up that fertilizer before the Bermuda has a chance to begin growing rapidly. If fall forage is needed, fertilizing Bermuda in late august can provide high quality grazing well into December.

What is the protein content of Bermuda grass in the winter?

Unfertilized old growth Bermuda, will have protein contents in the 3 to 5 % range. Fall fertilized Bermuda has been known to hold protein contents of 10 to 12% all the way up into January.

I have a Bermuda grass pasture that have just a few scattered weak plants in it. Should I re-sprig it?

Probably not, sprigging a Bermuda grass pasture can cost upwards of $100 per acre, and the loss of a years worth of production. If the pasture has Bermuda grass plants scattered throughout the field, it would be more cost effective to properly fertilize it. It should recover to a full stand within two years and you would be able to continue to graze it during the recovery period.

How do I plant those tiny little Bermuda grass seeds?

The best way would be to plant it with a specialized seeder that can handle small seed. One brand is a Brillion seeder that drops the seed and a set of packer wheels push it into contact with the soil. If a seeder is un-available, scattering the seed with a three point whirly bird seeder can be effective. Start with the gate on the seeder closed as tightly as it will go and still allow seed to come out. Test it on a few acres and adjust it open if enough seed is not being applied.

For more complete information, contact your county extension office.

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