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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Production and Grazing Management for Eastern Gamagrass

Author
item Gillen, Robert

Submitted to: Southern Pasture and Forage Crop Improvement Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 30, 2001
Publication Date: April 1, 2001

Interpretive Summary: Eastern gamagrass is a tall-growing grass native to the southeastern quarter of the USA. Eastern gamagrass grows in the warmer months and has several positive characteristics including an early start for spring growth, high forage production, and excellent palatability to beef cattle. These characteristics make eastern gamagrass attractive for livestock production but research on grazing management is limited. Rotational stocking, subdivision of pastures and movement of cattle among subdivisions, is required for maintenance of eastern gamagrass. During the grazing periods, eastern gamagrass should not be grazed below a height of 6 to 8 inches. Rest periods should be 30-45 days with a final 45-day rest period before killing frost. More intensive grazing management can increase grazing capacity by 53% and beef production by 97%. Forage production is relatively high and ranges from 7110 to 15730 lb/acre. The grass responds well to nitrogen (N) fertilizer with optimum application rates of 300 to 400 lb N/acre/year in high rainfall areas to 70 to 150 lb N/acre/year in low rainfall areas. The nutritional value of eastern gamagrass is high in May but declines rapidly to a low point in August. Eastern gamagrass has mainly been used as summer forage for growing beef cattle. Growing cattle grazing eastern gamagrass gain 2.5 to 2.7 lb/head/day early in the growing season and 1.0 to 1.5 lb/head/day late in the growing season. Because of the expense and time required for establishment, producers should be committed to upper-level management befo adopting eastern gamagrass. This information will help producers determine eastern gamagrass can be used in their operation, give them management guid r

Technical Abstract: Eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides (L.) L.) is a tall warm-season bunchgrass native to the Southern Great Plains and Southeastern U.S. Eastern gamagrass has the potential for high forage production and is palatable to beef cattle. These characteristics make eastern gamagrass attractive for livestock production but research on grazing management is limited. Some type of rotational grazing is required for maintenance of eastern gamagrass under grazing. Eastern gamagrass should not be grazed or cut below a stubble height of 6 to 8 inches. Rest periods should be 30-45 days with a final 45-day rest period before killing frost. Forage production of eastern gamagrass ranges from 7110 to 15730 lb per acre. The grass responds well to nitrogen (N) fertilization with optimum rates of 300 to 400 lb N/acre/year in higher rainfall areas to 70 to 150 lb N/acre/year in lower rainfall areas. The crude protein content of eastern gamagrass is sabove 15% during early growth in May and declines to 6 to 7% by August. I vitro digestibility ranges from 65% in May to 45% in August. Most interest has been in the use of eastern gamagrass as summer forage for growing beef cattle. Stocking rates range from 67 AUD/acre on an upland soil in western Oklahoma to 170 AUD/acre in western Arkansas. Compared to continuous season-long grazing, intensive-early-stocking increased stocking rates by 53% and beef production by 97% without reducing gain per head. Growing beef cattle grazing eastern gamagrass will gain 2.5 to 2.7 lb/head/day early in the growing season and 1.0 to 1.5 lb/head/day late in the growing season. Because of the expense and time required to establish eastern gamagrass, producers should be committed to upper-level management to ensure efficient utilization and optimum returns.

Last Modified: 9/21/2014
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