By Mike Surbrugg

Globe Farm Editor

MOUND VALLEY, Kan. - Joe Moyer donned a tropical shirt and hat when he talked about growing Bermuda grass in Southeast Kansas.

Moyer, the forage agronomist at Kansas State University's Southeast Agricultural Research Center in Parsons, talked at a beef cattle and forage meeting last month at the center's Mound Valley Unit.

He first talked about production and then the economics of producing Bermuda grass planted with seed or by planting sprigs of Bermuda grass.

Bermuda grass is an option as a summer forage for producing hay or grass for animals to graze. Interest in Bermuda grass is moving north as varieties have been developed with more winter hardiness, he said.

Warm-season grasses are productive when cool-season fescue gets minimal growth in summer months.

He cited several years of research in Southeast Kansas, including one done from 2001 through 2003. Sprigged varieties were led by Midland 99 that averaged 7.8 tons of forage per acre each year and Ozark, 7.63 tons. Wrangler averaged 5.55 tons and Guymon, 5.47 tons to top yields from seeded varieties.

All plots were given the same management.

Seeded varieties yield no more than 80 percent of those from sprigged varieties, Moyer said.

He said it cost him $185.35 to establish an acre of seeded Wrangler and $223.35 for Midland 99 started with sprigs. It cost $54 for eight pounds of pure live seed and $65 for 25 bushels of the Midland 99 sprigs per acre.

Wrangler produced 222 square bales of hay per acre and the Midland 99 had 312 bales. Hay cost was $268.62 an acre for the Wrangler and $377.86 for Midland 99, tied to higher production.

Moyer's total costs per acre for establishing an annual cost for Wrangler was $391.29, and $539.86 for Midland 99.

Hay value dictates which variety has the most profit potential, he said. At $100 a ton, there is a slight advantage of Midland 99, but at $86.25 per ton, there is no difference between each variety, Moyer said.

Moyer valued nitrogen in 2005 at 37 cents a pound. It is now at 44 cents a pound, he said. The higher cost means the hay would have to bring in another $5 more per ton to break even. Using less nitrogen would mean less hay to cover production costs, he said.

Because an acre of Bermuda grass is productive only during summer months, he suggested using no tillage to drill wheat seed into the established Bermuda grass to get a longer grazing period.

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