By Mike Surbrugg
ARDMORE, Okla. — Just because R.L. Dalrymple retired at the end of 1999 as an agronomist after 36 years at the Noble Foundation it does not mean he has lost his zest to develop a better crabgrass.
Since 1972, he has done research and work with crabgrass that led to the Noble Foundation releasing Red River Crabgrass, which is a big step ahead of native cultivars.
Dalrymple and his family own and operate Elstel Farm and Seeds in Ardmore, which has the slogan: “The Crabgrass Seed Folks.”
They also are marketing Dalrymple’s Quick-N-Big (QNB) Crabgrass variety. It gets its name because it is bigger and taller than the Red River variety, according to information provided by Elstel Farm and Seeds.
In Dalrymple’s tests, the newer variety germinates and grows quicker and gets to grazing or hay stages faster than Red River. The seed is about 117 percent larger by weight and has the same length and is about 110 percent wider than Red River seed. Germination is three to seven days faster.
QNB’s larger plant size also enables it to stand erect at a taller height than Red River, but both are lush forages with a pliable stem.
Both also make sufficient seed to perpetuate the annual variety to the next year.
The percent of crude protein in each variety is similar, ranging from 11 to more than 18 percent. Based on a variety of growing conditions in which QNB was tested in Oklahoma, it is believed to be adapted to the same 23 to 25 southeastern states.
Elstel priced QNB in 2007 at $8.95 per pound of new crop pure live seed and $9.95 for aged seed.
Red River non-certified seed is $4 per pound of pure live seed and $7 for a pound of aged certified seed.
QNB “held up to its name for us in 2007,” Dalrymple wrote. In the middle of summer at seed harvest time it averaged 43 to 56 inches tall with free-standing measurements.
“This was the tallest crabgrass I have seen in all my 35 years or working with it from a professional and farmer perspective,” he said.
Elstel Farm and Seeds can be reached at (800) 858-7333.
The address is 2640 Springdale Road, Ardmore, Okla. 73401-9157.
Dalrymple said the true test and success of any new forage is how it works on ranches and farms.
John Gaither, Columbus, Kan., has several acres of Red River Crabgrass. He was unable to obtain QNB seed last year.
Gaither has a stocker cattle operation and rates crabgrass as a good forage for grazing and for hay. He has grown crabgrass for three years.
“It is not hard to manage,” he said.
Cattle on the grass gain two or more pounds per day. Gaither also can plant no-till wheat into some of the crabgrass in the fall to get year-round grazing.
Mike Surbrugg is The Joplin Globe farm editor.
By Mike Surbrugg
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