Tag Archive: grass

A Florida Native; Tape Grass

A Florida Native; Tape Grass

Article by Gadsden County Extension Agent

DJ Zadarreyal


Vallisneria americana, also known as tape grass or eel grass, is a common native aquatic weed in the state of Florida. Tape grass has tall, grass-like leaves that are a light green in coloration and rise vertically from the crown to the top of the water. Once the leaves reach the top of the water, they casually float along the surface.

Common tape grass Vallisneria americana.
Photo: UF IFAS

The technique of propagation is by runners. These runners grow out from the crown along the sand and new plants arise from the end of them. There are separate male and female plants, although they grow on the same plant. The female flowers are on lengthy stems, which reach to the surface. However, the male flowers are loosely attached at the base of the leaves. When released, the male flowers float to the surface where they move alongside the female flowers to fertilize them.


A good way to distinguish tape grass from other weeds is to observe the leaves and the tips. Tape grass have round leaf tips while many other weeds have pointed leaf tips. In addition, tape grass is a submerged weed that possesses long, ribbon like leaves.


There are several uses for tape grass. Restoration of the pond floor is a useful purpose. One of the benefits of tape grass is that they are great oxygenators. Tape grass is also a common home based aquarium plant. They provide an eye-catching scene that fish and humans enjoy.




Guide of Tropical Fish, Everything You Need to Know About Tropical Fish


Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/14/a-florida-native-tape-grass/

NISAW 2017: It is Common and Abundant, but Torpedo Grass is Still a Problem

Torpedo grass. Photo credit: Rick O’Connor.

They say the best time to attack an invasive species is early in its arrival. In the early stages is your best chance, using the most cost effective methods, of eradicating an invasive species from a region.  Hence our focus on Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) list.  That is not the case with Torpedo Grass.  It is now found in all Gulf coast states and along the Atlantic border to North Carolina.  In Florida, it has been reported from 64 of the 67 counties and has also been reported in California and Hawaii.  However, it is a problem plant and property owners should try to manage it as best they can.


There is a discussion as to the origins of torpedo grass (Panicum repens).  Some say Europe, others Australia, but we do know it is not native to the United States.  It was first introduced here in the late 19th century as a forage grass for livestock.  Being a tropical-subtropical plant, the introduction was in the southeastern U.S.  The young shoots have been selected by forging mammals, livestock and otherwise, but older plants become tough and the livestock ignore them for other species.  There are reports of waterfowl and songbirds using torpedo grass as habitat.  However, the cons out weigh the pros on this one.


Torpedo grass grows very quickly using underground rhizomes. Though they do produce seeds, these rhizomes, and their fragments, are the primary method of propagation for this plant.  It has been found that rhizomes buried as deep as 20 inches can sprout shoots.  This aggressive plant spreads quickly, outcompeting native grasses in disturbed areas.  They will displace forage grasses that livestock prefer and can inundate a pasture very quickly.  Though it is drought tolerant, torpedo grass prefers moist soils and can grow in water as deep as 6 feet.  Many property owners have used this grass to control shore erosion but here is where it has causes problems for others.  As on land, it grows very quickly.  Spreading across shallow waterways making them unnavigable.  It has caused problems with irrigation systems, stream flow, and flood control in some areas.  It has also invaded citrus groves and gold courses.


So how do we deal with this plant if it is on our property?

Torpedo Grass Photo Credit: Graves Lovell, Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, www.bugwood.org


Well, we know it is not a fan of cold weather, but we are in Florida; even north Florida is suitable for it. We know it will not survive extreme hot periods.  We can only hope that it will get warm enough to knock back large acres of this thing; but warm temperatures like this are not good for most plants in our area – or animals for that matter.  There are no known biological controls at this time.  So that means we turn to herbicides.


Experience has shown that herbicides alone will knock it back, but rarely eradicates it from the area. Chemicals that have had success are glyphosate and imazapryl.  In both cases, an aquatically registered surfactant may be needed for good results.  When the torpedo grass is in water, herbicide treatment can be a problem.  First, the chemicals used are non-selective and may kill plants you do not want to lose.  Second, mats of dead torpedo grass have been known to decrease dissolved oxygen levels (due to decomposition) to levels where fish kills can occur.  Some studies have found that burning a field of torpedo grass and then treating with both glyphosate and imazapryl has had some success.  Treating first and then burning has not been as successful, nor has leaving one of the three out of the program.


As common and aggressive as this grass is, you may feel any attempt to control is feudal, but doing nothing can be very costly as well. We recommend properties with patches of this grass begin treatments soon, and if you have very little – remove as soon as you can.  To learn more visit one of the following websites:

Torpedo grass in Aquatic Environments

Torpedo grass Management in Turf



Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/28/nisaw-2017-it-is-common-and-abundant-but-torpedo-grass-is-still-a-problem/

Next Year’s Bahia Grass Depends on This Year’s Renovation Preparation

Next Year’s Bahia Grass Depends on This Year’s Renovation Preparation

Having Bahia grass ready to graze in 2017 depends on what you do in 2016.

Having Bahiagrass ready to graze in 2017 depends on what you do in 2016.

In that recent flash of time when cattle prices were the highest in my lifetime, many Florida ranchers seized the opportunity to invest some increased income in capital improvements for the ranch. Some fertilized according to soil test for the first time in years, some replaced worn out equipment, and some took the opportunity to plant or renovate Bahiagrass pasture.

In that high market, ranchers may have thought, “Prices are good, I don’t have to worry so much about doing this exactly right.” Now that the good times seem as distant as civil political discussion, doing it right has renewed importance.

I’ve visited several recently renovated fields this year, and here are some of the shortcuts that have come back to bite the rancher.

• Failure to rid the new pasture of weed populations BEFORE planting.
This is particularly important when planting improved varieties in fields which have Pensacola Bahiagrass in them. Bahiagrass’s popularity stems from its persistence. There are no herbicides which can differentiate between Pensacola and its descendants, Tifton 9 and Riata. Moving from Pensacola to one of these varieties may require burning down existing Bahiagrass, and planting a winter feed crop such as oats or cereal rye before planting next year. This intermediate crop may need to be burned down again before planting to assure a clean field.

Wait until after your Bahiagrass is established to add legumes to the mix. If you use broadleaf herbicides for your Bahiagrass, you’ll lose your legumes. That’s another expense you can avoid.

• Planting too deep.
Bahiagrass should be planted only one quarter to one half inch deep. Planting into loose soil or improper drill settings can put the seed below that and decrease seedling vigor and germination. That’s another loss of time and money.

• Failure to use adequate seeding rates.
Recommended seeding rates for Tifton 9, Riata and TifQuik are 15 – 20 pounds per acre and 20 – 30 pounds for Argentine with the lower rates for drilled seed in prepared ground and the higher rates for broadcast applications. Cutting corners on seed rate leaves more open ground, which allows weeds to compete more effectively with Bahiagrass seedlings. A thick, vigorous stand reduces weed competition. Yes, seed is expensive, but if you can’t afford to do it right, can you really afford to do it over?

• Grazing the new crop too soon.
Bahiagrass persistence depends on having sufficient leaf area to sustain itself. Make sure the forage is fully established before grazing. It is possible to get grazing in the season of establishment, however your goal is to have pasture for many years. Jumping the gun can decrease the useful life of the pasture. The IFAS recommendation for minimum stubble height is three inches, if rotationally grazed, and five inches if continuously stocked. You may well be renovating your fields because you’ve overgrazed them in the past. Don’t throw good money after bad.

• Inadequate fertility
The IFAS publication, Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum): Overview and Management, recommends “Light fertilization of Bahiagrass will generally be necessary within 7–10 days after seedling emergence. The initial application should consist of 30 lb nitrogen (N)/acre, all of the recommended P2O5, and 50% of the recommended K2O. Approximately 40–50 days after the initial application, an additional 50 lb of nitrogen and the remaining K2O should be applied.”  Many renovations skip this step out of false economy. In addition, soil pH should be 5.5 before planting.

• No rain
Unless you’re planting under the “Silver Cloud” (irrigation), I can’t help you here. However, Bahiagrass seed can lie dormant for longer than you might think. One of my neighbors had seed in the ground 3 months before a decent rain got it going. Of course, “If it doesn’t rain, it doesn’t matter.”

Chris Prevatt’s market projections in his Panhandle Ag October 7th article show next year’s calf prices below breakeven prices and trending lower. Even though properly renovated pastures are a long term investment and may be more likely justified over time, this near term market downturn intensifies the urgency of ensuring the necessary care and attention be paid to getting everything right in your renovation project. There’s no room for error in this market.


Portions of this article were adapted from “Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum): Overview and Management”  and “The Management and Use of Bahiagrass”



Author: Jed Dillard – dillardjed@ufl.edu

Jefferson County Livestock and Natural Resources Agent with a commercial cow/calf background. My degree is in animal breeding, but I do more work wth forage systems. Long time clover/legume booster for both livestock and wildlife

Jed Dillard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/10/28/next-years-bahia-grass-depends-on-this-years-renovation-preparation/

Brunswick Grass: a Weed Contaminant in Bahiagrass Seed Production Fields

Brunswick Grass: a Weed Contaminant in Bahiagrass Seed Production Fields

Ann Blount, Jay Ferrell, Anthony Drew, Jose Dubeux, and Cheryl Mackowiak (in cooperation with Johnny Melton, Jack Melton Family, Inc.)

Brunswick grass (Paspalum nicorae Parodi), sometimes referred to as “Brown seeded paspalum,” is becoming a problematic weed in summer perennial grass pastures in the southeast. Brunswick grass is a perennial summer grass, with a similar growing season and appearance to that of bahiagrass.  This plant is native to South America and was introduced as a soil conservation plant for erosion control and as a potential forage crop. This plant has become naturalized and has contaminated some bahiagrass pastures and more significantly seed production fields in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.

Brunswick Grass - Paspalum_nicoraeBrunswick grass is competitive with bahiagrass and bermudagrass.  Cattle will consume Brunswick grass when it is young and tender, however, it quickly becomes rank and loses its palatability, causing cattle to avoid grazing it.   Since it is less palatable, the plant gains a competitive advantage and will eventually dominate in perennial grass pastures. Brunswick grass has reportedly contaminated bahiagrass seed fields and pastures in several Florida counties, including Gilchrist, Levy, Alachua, Citrus and Sumter.

The seed of Brunswick grass is close in size to that of Pensacola bahiagrass. This has made it difficult for bahiagrass seed processors to effectively eliminate Brunswick grass to meet total weed seed specifications (2.0 %) for saleable seed. Brunswick grass is more easily removed from Argentine than Pensacola bahiagrass due to greater seed size differential.

The best method to stop the spread of Brunswick Grass is to avoid harvesting seed from pastures contaminated with this grass weed.  Seed producers must scout for Brunswick grass prior to seed harvest, to avoid the further distribution of this weed.  To our knowledge, no herbicides currently exist that will selectively remove Brunswick grass without severely injuring or killing the desirable pasture grasses. Therefore, high rates of glyphosate should be utilized to kill the pasture as the first step of total renovation. Mechanical cultivation alone may not eliminate Brunswick grass. Mechanical cultivation, in addition to herbicides and crop rotation, should provide successful control of Brunswick grass, since seed survival in a seed bank is not believed to be long-term.

It is important to remember that large quantities of bahiagrass seed are sold without any field inspections for purity, resulting in the sale of contaminated seed for use in new pasture plantings. When purchasing seed to establish new pastures, purchase only from reliable seed sources.

It is very important that livestock producers and bahia seed harvesters learn to identify Brunswick grass.  If producers are considering seed production, fields should be scouted for Brunswick grass first, before making the investment in additional fertilization needed for optimal seed production.  Seed harvesters should also become familiar with this grass weed to avoid contamination. The following are comparisons of Brunswick grass and Pensacola bahia.  If you need help positively identifying this grass, work with your County Extension Agent.  If needed, they can have samples sent in to the University of Florida Herbarium for positive identification.

Brunswick grass is a perennial summer grass, with a similar growing season and appearance to that of Pensacola bahiagrass (Fig. 1).

Blount Figure 1 Brunswick vs Bahia

Figure 1. Seed head of Brunswick grass and seed (left) (courtesy of Bruce Cook, CIAT) and Pensacola bahiagrass (right) (courtesy of Carlos Acuna, UNNE).

It has a deep and aggressive rhizome system that appears very different from bahiagrass rhizomes (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Rhizome comparison of Brunswick grass (left) and Pensacola bahiagrass (left center). Whole plant of Brunswick grass with leaves and rhizomes (far right)

Figure 2. Rhizome comparison of Brunswick grass (left) and Pensacola bahiagrass (left center). Whole plant of Brunswick grass with leaves and rhizomes (far right)

Brunswick grass seed are slightly smaller than that of Pensacola bahiagrass, and the seed coat has a dark, chestnut brown center that varies somewhat in size by variety (Figs. 3 and 4).

Figure 3. Seed of Brunswick grass (left) and Pensacola bahiagrass (right).

Figure 3. Seed of Brunswick grass (left) and Pensacola bahiagrass (right).

Figure 4. Close up of seed of Brunswick grass

Figure 4. Close up of seed of Brunswick grass

For more information on Brunswick Grass:

Tropical Forage Fact Sheet



Author: Ann Blount – paspalum@ufl.edu


Ann Blount

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/02/27/brunswick-grass-a-weed-contaminant-in-bahiagrass-seed-production-fields/

Fall Color with Muhly Grass

Fall Color with Muhly Grass

As September rolls into October and we finally experience cooler temperatures, I always look forward to seeing one of my favorite native grasses in full bloom. Muhlenbergia capillaris, or Muhly grass, is an extremely versatile plant in the home landscape. It is both flood and drought tolerant and easy to maintain. A true local, it is typically found growing in beach dune areas, sandhills, pine flatwoods or coastal uplands. It provides nesting material and shelter for birds and small animals, and is known to attract beneficial ladybugs.

The dramatic color of Muhly grass in the fall makes it a favorite for home landscapes. Photo credit: UF IFAS Escambia Extension

The dramatic color of Muhly grass in the fall makes it a favorite for home landscapes. Photo credit: UF IFAS Escambia Extension

Muhly grass grows in a clumping form, usually 2-3 feet in height and width, and looks great in clusters as a border along the edge of a building or lawn. It can also be used as an eye-catching centerpiece in a landscape. The plant’s most notable feature, however, appears in late September and early October. This is when hundreds of filamentous blossoms form a dramatic display of deep pinkish purple. When the wind blows the colorful blooms, it creates an appearance of a pink cloud hovering over the grass.

Muhly grass is semi-evergreen, turning more copper in color as it gets colder. The only maintenance needed is voluntary; in late winter it can be trimmed down to 6-8″ to remove older, dead blades before the growing season. This plant was chosen as the 2012 Plant of the Year by the Garden Club of America, and is a great selection for our area.

For more information on the plant, please visit UF IFAS “Gardening Solutions” or speak to your local UF IFAS Extension horticulture agent.



Author: Carrie Stevenson – ctsteven@ufl.edu

Coastal Sustainability Agent, Escambia County Extension

Carrie Stevenson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/09/23/fall-color-with-muhly-grass/

Why Is My Grass Dying Again?

“We have replaced this grass several times over the past few years; and it’s dying again.”  I have heard this complaint too many times this summer.  Last summer’s heavy rain, the stress of January’s icy weather, and this year’s extended summer have contributed to widespread outbreaks of Take-All Root Rot, a soil-inhabiting fungus Gaeumannomyces graminis var. graminis.

Symptoms of Take-All-Root-Rot. Photo credit: Sheila Dunning, UF/IFAS.

Symptoms of Take-All-Root-Rot. Photo credit: Sheila Dunning, UF/IFAS.

This disease causes yellow grass patches ranging in diameter from a few inches to more than 15 feet. The symptoms first appear in the spring, but the disease can persist all summer and survive the winter. Over time, the entire area dies as the root system rots away.  The pathogen is naturally present on warm-season turfgrass roots. High rainfall and stressed turfgrass trigger the disease.

Since the roots are affected, they are not able to efficiently obtain water or nutrients from the soil, nor are they able to store the products of photosynthesis, which result in the loss of color in the leaves. By the time the leaf symptoms appear, the pathogen has been active on the roots for several weeks, probably longer; the disease has been there potentially for years. If the turfgrass is not stressed, leaf symptoms may never be observed.

This disease is very difficult to control once the aboveground symptoms are observed. Measures that prevent or alleviate stress are the best methods for controlling the disease. Any stress (environmental or manmade) placed on the turf weakens it, making it more susceptible to disease. Remember, that every maintenance practice, fertilizer application, and chemical (especially herbicide), application has an impact on turfgrass health.  Cultural practices that impact the level of stress experienced by a lawn include:

  • proper turfgrass species selection
  • mowing at the correct height
  • irrigation timing, frequency and volume
  • fertilizer: nitrogen and potassium sources and application quantities
  • thatch accumulation, and
  • soil compaction

The selection of turfgrass species should be based on existing soil pH, sunlight exposure, use of the area and planned maintenance level.

Mower blades must be sharp to avoid tearing of the leaves. Additionally, turfgrasses that are cut below their optimum height become stressed and more susceptible to diseases, especially root rots. When any disease occurs, raise the cutting height. Scalping the grass damages the growing point. Raising the cutting height increases the green plant tissue available for photosynthesis, resulting in more energy for turfgrass growth and subsequent recovery from disease.

If an area of the lawn has an active fungus, washing or blowing off the mower following use will reduce the spread of the disease to unaffected areas.

The amount of water and the timing of its application can prevent or contribute to disease development. Most fungal pathogens that cause leaf diseases require free water (rainfall, irrigation, dew) on the leaf to initiate the infection process. Irrigating every day for a few minutes is not beneficial for the turfgrass because it does not provide enough water to the root zone, but it is beneficial for turfgrass pathogens. It is always best to irrigate when dew is already present, usually between 2 and 8 a.m., and then only apply enough water to wet the root zone of the turfgrass.TARR Symptoms sdunning

Excessively high nitrogen fertility contributes to turfgrass diseases. The minimum amount required for the grass species should be applied. Potassium (K) is an important component in the prevention of diseases, because it prevents plant stress. Application of equal amounts of nitrogen and potassium is recommended for turfgrass health. When turfgrass roots are damaged from disease, it is beneficial to apply nutrients in a liquid solution. However, nitrate-nitrogen increases the severity of diseases, so their use should be avoided when possible. Ammonium-containing fertilizers are the preferred nitrogen sources.

Heavy liming has also been linked to increases in Take-All Root Rot. Since most turfgrasses can tolerate a range of pH, maintaining soil at 5.5 to 6.0 can suppress the development of the pathogen. When the disease is active, frequent foliar applications of small amounts of nutrients is necessary to keep the turfgrass from declining.

Additional maintenance practices that need to be addressed are thatch removal and reduction of soil compaction. Excessive thatch often causes the mower to sink which can result in scalping and reducing the amount of leaf tissue capable of photosynthesizing. Thatch and compacted soil prevent proper drainage, resulting in areas remaining excessively wet, depriving root systems of oxygen.  Since recovery of Take-All-Root-Rot damaged turfgrass is often poor, complete renovation of the lawn may be necessary. Removal of all diseased tissue is advised.

As a native soil-inhabiting pathogen, Take-All-Root-Rot cannot be eliminated. However, suppression of the organism through physical removal followed by proper cultivation of the new sod is critical to the establishment of a new lawn. Turfgrass management practices, not chemicals, offer the best control of the disease.

It is acceptable to use fungicides on a preventative basis while rooting in the sod. Azoxystrobin, fenarimol, myclobutanil, propiconazole, pyraclostrobin, thiophate methyl, and triadimefon are all fungicides that can be utilized to prevent disease development while having to excessively irrigate newly laid sod. Ideally, the turf area should be mowed and irrigated prior to a fungicide application. Unless the product needs to be watered in, do not irrigate for at least 24 hours after a chemical treatment. Do not mow for at least 24 hours, to avoid removal of the product attached to the leaf blades.

With all the stresses that our lawns have experienced, it is very important to continue monitoring the turf and be cautious about the cultural practices being used.  Take-All Root Rot is likely to flourish.  Do not encourage its development.  A pathology test with the University of Florida Laboratory can confirm the presence of the disease causing organism.  Before resodding again, have the dying sod tested.

For information and the submission form go to:

Sample Submission Guide

For more information on the disease go to:




Author: Sheila Dunning – sdunning@ufl.edu


Sheila Dunning

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/09/16/why-is-my-grass-dying-again/

Native Grass for Moist Soils

Native Grass for Moist Soils

Native plants can more readily be found in local nurseries to enhance landscape plantings. Not all natives are suited to every habit so it is still important to match the plant’s requirements with a suitable area in the landscape.

Gamma grass

One low maintenance native that is more suited to a specific area is the landscape is the Gamma or Fakahatchee grass (Tripsacum dactyloides and T. floridana). This clumping perennial grass grows best in moist or even boggy soils. It has attractive green foliage and upright flower stems that appear in mid summer. Although the flowers are not very significant, they do have a red color when viewed up close.

The Eastern gamma grass can grow five feet in height so many gardeners prefer the dwarf version that reaches about 2-3 feet in height. Plant in areas of full sun or partial shade as a specimen plant or use in a mass of three or five.

In areas that receive colder temperatures, gamma grass can add fall interest to the garden. Leaves will change to a shade of red with first frost and plants can die back to the ground during freezing winters. New growth returns in the spring. Basic maintenance includes pruning back in the spring.


Author: Beth Bolles – bbolles@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Escambia County

Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/07/21/native-grass-for-moist-soils/

Integrating Perennial Peanut into Grass Pastures

Figure 3. Rhizoma peanut + bahiagrass pastures 10 years after establishment (Photo Credit: Miguel Castillo)

Figure 3. Rhizoma peanut + bahiagrass pastures 10 years after establishment.  Photo Credit: Miguel Castillo

Jose Dubeux, University of Florida/IFAS – North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC)

Rhizoma peanut (commonly known as perennial peanut) is a warm-season perennial legume well adapted to Florida. It has high digestibility (65-75%) and crude protein concentrations (15-20%), that can really boost livestock performance. Integrating rhizoma peanut into bahiagrass pastures can almost double livestock performance, compared to bahiagrass alone (Figure 1). Rhizoma peanut also associates with soil microorganisms and adds nitrogen to the system, reducing costs with Nitrogen (N) fertilizer. As its name suggests, this legume has a significant rhizome mass which provides tolerance to grazing and cold temperatures, overwintering well in North Florida.

Figure 1. Average daily gain (ADG) of cattle grazing bahiagrass or bahiagrass/rhizoma peanut pastures (Williams et al., 1991).

Figure 1. Average daily gain (ADG) of cattle grazing bahiagrass or bahiagrass/rhizoma peanut pastures (Williams et al., 1991).

Unfortunately, rhizoma peanut can only be propagated by planting or sprigging rhizomes. Because of all the operations involved in the planting process, establishment of this legume is expensive ($ 400-500/acre).  Researchers are investigating a way to reduce the cost by using a strip-planting technique (Figure 2). The idea is to establish the peanut over 30-50% of the area, reducing the cost accordingly. A blend of 30% rhizoma peanut in perennial grass pastures provides benefits in terms of livestock performance and biological N2-fixation. Because rhizoma peanut establishment is slow, grass strips could be used to produce hay during the establishment period. Thus, strip width should match planting and harvesting equipment width. Likewise, rhizoma peanut strips should match the width of commercially available spriggers, which range from 8-9 ft. wide.

Figure 2. Strip-planting of rhizoma peanut (Arachis glabrata Benth.) into Argentine bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flugge); Marianna, FL. Photo credits: Jose Dubeux, UF/IFAS – NFREC

Figure 2. Strip-planting of rhizoma peanut (Arachis glabrata Benth.) into Argentine bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flugge); Marianna, FL. Photo credits: Jose Dubeux, UF/IFAS – NFREC

During the establishment year, it is critical to keep the weeds out of the legume strip. Keeping the bahiagrass and rhizoma peanut in different strips during the establishment year allows the application of herbicides on the legume strip without damaging the bahiagrass stand. Herbicides labeld for use on rhizoma peanut are described in Weed Control in Perennial Peanut

It is also important to properly fertilize the rhizoma peanut strip during establishment. In the first years, the peanut is building up its rhizome mass, which represents the greatest proportion of biomass of this legume. Application of P, K, S, micronutrients, and N during the establishment phase will help to improve rhizoma peanut establishment. Care must be taken during the establishment year. Research results indicate that rhizoma peanut should not be grazed during the first two seasons, when it is still building its rhizome mass. Recent estimates of biological N2-fixation showed that rhizoma peanut varieties fixed between 110-190 lbs N/acre annually, depending on the variety. If we assume an average annual fixation of 150 lbs N/acre, this would represent an annual savings in $ 120 per acre in N fertilizer. If using the strip-planting approach and 50% of the land is planted, the contribution would still be significant ($ 60/acre). It is important to mention that rhizoma peanut spreads into the grass strips and in the long-term, the grass-legume mixture will occupy the entire area (Figure 3 above).

Take Home Message:

Integrating rhizoma peanut into livestock production systems will bring numerous benefits such as biological N2-fixation and improved cattle performance. Using the strip-planting approach reduces establishment costs and grass strips can be used during the establishment years for hay production. In the long-term, producers will have the benefits provided by the grass-legume mixture in the entire pasture area.



Author: dubeux – dubeux@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/06/19/integrating-perennial-peanut-into-grass-pastures/

Protect Your Herd from Grass Tetany this Winter

Protect Your Herd from Grass Tetany this Winter

Winter Forage Grazing

Cattle grazing on cool season forages can be at risk of grass tetany.  Photo Credit:  Doug Mayo

Grass tetany is a potentially deadly condition in cattle and sheep grazing on small grains or ryegrass.  Grass tetany is a condition associated with reduced magnesium levels in the blood, and can be a serious problem for cattle and sheep producers in Northwest Florida. Cool season forages can be low in magnesium.  Lactating cows and ewes grazing on the early growth of cool season forages have the greatest risk because of their increased nutritional requirement for magnesium.  In acute cases, mortality occurs rapidly.  Symptoms are rarely noticed in time and cattle are simply found dead in the pasture.  For this reason preventing grass tetany is much more practical than treating it.

The most efficient way to prevent grass tetany is to feed a mineral supplement that contains adequate magnesium. When conditions are favorable for grass tetany to occur, a mineral supplement with 10-15% magnesium should be made available to cattle. Additionally, it is important to make sure that cattle are consuming an adequate amount of the supplement daily.  Depending on the percent magnesium, cattle need to be consuming 6-12oz/head/day of the supplement. Mineral consumption rates tend to go down during the winter months so over-consumption generally is not an issue. Considering this, many steps that are often taken during the summer months to prevent over-consumption (diluting supplement with salt, positioning supplement away from water source, etc.) are not necessary during the winter.

As previously mentioned, grass tetany is generally associated with the first lush growth of cool season forages. Conditions this year may be favorable for grass tetany.  Across the Panhandle winter grazing has gotten off to a slow start. If conditions become favorable and these pastures experience a period of rapid growth, the potential for grass tetany could increase. This situation could be further compounded by producers that have tried to push their grazing along with extra fertilizer. High levels of nitrogen and potassium can interfere with the magnesium uptake from the soil, further increasing the likelihood of grass tetany.

Weather conditions this summer made quality hay production very difficult. The majority of the hay produced in the Panhandle this past summer was very poor quality. Considering this, be sure that poor quality hay is supplemented as needed to meet the nutritional needs of the cattle consuming it.  Protein and energy supplements are important, along with adequate mineral supplementation.  Not only are mineral feeds critical  for preventing conditions like grass tetany, but also to ensure the overall performance of the herd.

For additional information on grass tetany, mineral supplementation, or other cattle and forage related issues, use the links to the following publications, or contact your local County Extension Agent.

Grass Tetany in Cattle

Mineral Concentrations in Grazed Cool-Season Annual Grass Pastures in North Florida

Winter Grazing Cows

Be sure cattle receive adequate magnesium mineral supplementation.  Photo credit Doug Mayo.


Author: Mark Mauldin – mdm83@ufl.edu

I am the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Washington County. My program areas include livestock and forage, row crops, and pond management.

Mark Mauldin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/01/25/protect-your-herd-from-grass-tetany-this-winter/

Disposing Of Grass Clippings Can Be A Pain But Alternatives Exist

IMG_4398As if mowing the lawn wasn’t trouble enough, dealing with and disposing of grass clippings is a major pain.

Clumps of grass clippings left on the lawn are unsightly and cause the grass beneath them to turn yellow due to a lack of sunlight as well as oxygen.

That problem is somewhat eliminated if you have a bag attachment on your mower, but handling the grass clippings extends the chore of mowing by taking extra time and effort to repeatedly empty the bag. Then, once clippings are put in garbage bags and placed on the curb, our municipal waste handlers must deal with them.

What to Do?

On the other hand, if we manage our lawns correctly and use proper cutting practices, we can have nice lawns without bagging clippings.

Properly managed, grass clippings will not contribute to thatch buildup or other problems. As they decompose, grass clippings also can supply much of the nutrients needed by your lawn.

Since you’ve already got it, why throw it away?

Bag-free Lawn Care Plan

IMG_4397You can follow this bag-free lawn care plan using a traditional lawn mower:


  • For an established lawn, cut at the lower recommended cutting heights for your grass and use the lowest recommended amount of fertilizer. Mowing grass at a lower height will discourage thatch build-up.
  • The rule of thumb for when to mow is to remove no more than about one-third of the leaf area at a time. If this practice is followed, the clippings will be small enough to sift into the turf and naturally decompose near the soil surface.
  • To be successful, you will need to mow frequently enough so that the clippings are not too large. This may mean that the lawn can’t necessarily wait until Saturday morning. You must also mow at the recommended height. To ensure that your blade is set at the recommended height, set the mower wheel height on a concrete surface.

Here are some recommendations on various grasses and the heights at which to mow the grass:

  • Common Bermuda: mow at approximately 1½ inches.
  • Hybrid Bermuda: mow at approximately 1¼ inches.
  • Zoysia: mow at approximately 2 inches.
  • St. Augustine: mow at approximately 3 inches.
  • Centipede: mow at approximately 2 inches.

Under the bag-free plan, you may apply a second application of fertilizer to your lawn this month (The first application should have been done in late April.). But remember that fertilizing grass increases its rate of growth. Reducing the amount of fertilizer you apply to the lawn will reduce the amount of clippings you will have to deal with. However, the one turf I would completely eliminate from a second fertilizer application annually is centipede. Too much fertilization in centipede can cause many more problems than any benefits that may arise from it.

A complete turf fertilizer is recommended for the average lawn. The best is a blend with more nitrogen, little phosphorus and some potash. Fertilizers with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium ratios of 3:1:2 or 4:1:2 are good for turf. Choose a blend that contains some controlled-release nitrogen for longer feeding.

Don’t forget that recycled clippings also add nutrients, so fertilize at one-half the recommended rates – or not at all – if the grass color, growth and general appearance are acceptable.

Other practices will add to your success. First, don’t over water your lawn. During the hottest summer period lawns don’t need more than about an inch of water a week. Water as needed for weather conditions, and wait until the grass actually shows some stress before watering. Drought-stressed lawns often appear slightly faded, and the grass blades may be folded or rolled up.

Cut your grass when the leaf blades are dry (wait for the dew to dry). The clippings will sift down to the soil better. Make sure your mower blades are sharp, and keep the mower housing clean for best cutting and movement of clippings. You may need to have your mower blade sharpened once or twice in the growing season to properly cut your grass rather than having a dull blade  ear your grass.

If you own or are thinking of buying a mulching mower, you’ll find they do an excellent job of chopping grass clippings and fit very well into this kind of program. Because these mowers are designed specially to chop grass clippings finely and return them to the lawn, they are a bit more forgiving if you wait slightly longer than recommended before mowing. Always avoid letting the grass get excessively tall before you mow.

 For more in depth lawn care information, consult “Your Florida Lawn” or contact your County Extension Agent.



Author: Robert Trawick – rob.trawick@ufl.edu

I’m the horticulture extension agent in Jackson County, Florida. I received my B.S. and M.S. degrees at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. Previously I was the residential horticulture extension agent for Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA and Lafayette, LA.

Robert Trawick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/08/19/disposing-of-grass-clippings-can-be-a-pain-but-alternatives-exist/

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