Comparison of bermudagrass, bahiagrass, and kikuyugrass as a standing hay crop
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Stockpiling of warm-season perennial grasses for grazing after frost is a management practice that can lower livestock production costs. Six seeded bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] cultivars, two bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flugge) cultivars, and a kikuyugrass (Pennisetum clandestinum Hochst. ex Chiov.) cultivar were compared with 'Coastal' and 'Tifton 85' bermudagrass in a small plot study in northeast Texas. Plots were sampled monthly from October through February in 1999 through 2002 to monitor accumulated dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), and acid detergent fiber (ADF). Initial standing forage mass was <3000 kg DM ha-1 and remained relatively stable during the sampling period in the first 2 yr. In the third year, initial standing forage mass was >4000 kg DM ha-1 and declined during the sampling period for all entries. Standing forage mass of Tifton 85 bermudagrass was usually greater than the other entries. Crude protein decreased with time, but the rate of decline was related to initial CP concentrations and forage maturity at first frost. Bahiagrass cultivars and kikuyugrass generally had higher CP concentrations than bermudagrass cultivars. Crude protein concentrations were always above the minimum requirements for mature, nonlactating, pregnant beef cows (70-80 g kg-1). Acid detergent fiber increased with time for all entries, with the largest monthly increase usually occurring after December. The ADF concentration in bahiagrass cultivars was always higher than in bermudagrass cultivars and kikuyugrass. Species suitability for stockpiling forage was bermudagrass > kikuyugrass > bahiagrass. Tifton 85 was superior to the other bermudagrasses because of greatest autumn growth.