Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/6/2005
Publication Date: 6/11/2005
Citation: Looper, M.L., Aiken, G.E., Tabler, S.F., Flores, R., Rosenkrans, C.F., Miesner, J.R. 2005. Effects of harvest frequency and nitrogen fertilization on quantity and quality of stockpiled comon bermudagrass. American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings. 14:191-195. Interpretive Summary: Stockpiled forages can reduce the need to feed grain supplements and harvested forages during the winter months, thus reducing input costs. Information on the management protocols of stockpiling bermudagrass is limited. Objectives were to determine the influence of harvest (1 or 2 cuttings) and N fertilization applications (1, 2, or 3 applications; 75 lb N/acre) on the quantity and quality of stockpiled bermudagrass. Stockpiled forage yields were greatest when harvested once during the growing phase and crude protein levels exceeded nutritional requirements. This information is of interest to beef producers, extension personnel, and agricultural professionals who advise beef producers on forage/animal management practices, because it may help dispell producers' belief that stockpiled bermudagrass is of low quality.
Technical Abstract: Bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] is commonly grazed by beef cattle during the growing season and fed as hay during the winter months. Producer perception that stockpiled warm season perennials have less than adequate nutritive value to maintain beef cattle has deterred the practice of stockpiling bermudagrass. Objectives of this experiment were to determine the influence of harvest frequencies (1 or 2 cuttings) and N fertilization (1, 2, or 3 applications of 75 lb N/acre) during the growing season on forage mass and nutritive value of stockpiled bermudagrass. Forage mass and nutritive values were measured at each harvest (10 June and 17 September) and three times during the stockpiled phase (29 October, 30 December, and 24 February); top and bottom sections of stockpiled forage were utilized for evaluating nutritive value. There was a harvest frequency x time interaction (P < 0.05) on stockpiled forage mass. Forage mass was greatest (P < 0.05) at the initial sample date of the stockpiled phase from plots harvested once (8 June) compared with all other treatments and lowest (P < 0.05) following two harvests (8 June and 17 September) on the middle and final sample dates of the stockpiled phase. Quality of bermudagrass was affected (P < 0.05) by a harvest frequency x section (top or bottom) x time interaction. Crude protein was greatest (P < 0.05) in the top section of forages collected at the initial and middle sample dates previously harvested twice. Stockpiled bermudagrass can reduce the need to feed grain supplements and harvested forages during the winter months to gestating beef cows; however, frequency of harvest during the growing season may decrease the mass of stockpiled bermudagrass.