Bermudagrass has been a popular forage for quite some time, and there's still value in this forage for southwest Missouri. John Jennings, a professor and expert in forages for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, said that cold tolerance is one of the most important traits for any bermudagrass variety. There have been more varieties developed, in recent years, with sufficient tolerance to cold weather. These varieties have thus become more persistent in growth through the colder months.
 Jennings also noted that another factor many farmers want to consider is the need for a durable, persistent warm-season forage to compliment a dominant fescue based pasture system. This is where Bermudagrass can be extrememly beneficial. It compliments fescue because fescue becomes dormant in the summer months since it's a cool season grass. Bermudagrass, on the other hand, is a warm season forage and grows vigorously during the hot months. Also, fescue has the presence of toxic endophyte fungus (which is detrimental to cattle production) whereas Bermudagrass has no endophyte that will harm livestock. The increased forage production from introducing Bermudagrass will undoubtedly show gains in livestock.
Bermudagrass is also a high-yielding, premium quality hay for horses and cattle under good management, added Jennings. It also has a high capability to utilize nitrogen fertilizer and its range has expanded greatly due to the availibility of poultry litter.
 The best way to incorporate Bermudagrass into your existing forage if you're planting seeds or springs is to start with a weed-free, firm, tilled seedbed. No-till planting Bermuda seed has been successful if the sod is killed and weed control is good. Jennings also recommended a fact sheet on "Establishing Bermudagrass FSA-19" which can be found online at and provides step-by-step recommendations for planting.
 Planting Bermuda into an existing fescue sod usually leads to poor establishment due to competition from fescue sod, Jennings added. However, in some areas, feeding your livestock mature, common Bermuda hay will deposit enough seed to get Bermuda started in fescue fields. The only problems with common Bermuda is that it is typically lower yielding than most hybrids and if started in this manner, it can also easily spread to other fields where it may not be desired. Mixed Fescue/Bermuda pastures do provide longer grazing seasons with proper management, but mixed fields are also difficult to manage for stockpiled fall pasture and to maintain a desirable and even mixture of the two forages.
 Bermudagrass is high in nitrogen and potash requirements for hay production so producers should be aware of the maintenance costs for high-yielding Bermuda varieties, said Jennings. He also noted that in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri about 1/4 to 1/3 of pasture acres should be in warm-season forage – and Bermuda is a good choice.


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