Bermuda Couch Speedie Coated
For Forage In Australia
Bermuda grass, with a bright green/purple tipped blade, has consistently proven to be one of the best perennial grasses for irrigated summer pastures in Australia. More recently, it is being used as a source of green forage and hay. It is also a chosen variety for turfing sports fields.
Bermuda Couch has an extensive root system, giving it the best chance of surviving tough drought conditions. Due to the make-up of the roots, extended periods of drought or waterlogging can be survived.
It has runners that spread both above ground (called stolons) and below ground (rhizomes). This makes the grass great at ‘self-repairing’, and any bare patches that you may have from your initial sowing of seed will, more often than not, be quickly filled in without any need for a second sow.
Speedie Bermuda Grass has been dehulled and will germinate a little quicker that the normal unhulled Bermuda Grass.
It performs best in soils with moderate acidity (pH 5.8-7.0) but tolerates more alkaline conditions. It is suited for commercial pasture or hay production in areas where total soluble salts in water tend to restrict production of other crops.
Bermuda grasses are also a practical choice for small pasture plots where a homeowner wants to keep one or two horses and/ or pasture a few head of cattle.
In the irrigated areas of WA, Bermuda grasses normally can be pastured from mid-October and harvested until frost time in May. Over this seven-month period, a planting generally can carry four horses, eight head of beef cattle, or six cows and calves per hectare. Growing cattle will gain about ½ a kilo per day if no additional feed is provided.
Hay yields run from 11 to 22 tonnes per hectare a season harvested in about 6 cuttings. When properly fertilized, irrigated and harvested, Bermuda grass hay has a feeding value about equal to alfalfa hay in terms of total digestible nutrient (TDN), but has less digestible protein.
Establishing a stand
Ideal planting time is from mid-October to December. To establish a stand, broadcast the seed at the rate of 7 to 10 kg per hectare. When drilling, it is best to plant in dry seedbed and irrigate-up, unless the soil is disked first to kill germinated weed seed.
Planting depth is extremely important. For best result seed should be planted as near 6cm deep as possible. Do not plant too deep. It is a good practice to apply a light irrigation 3 to 5 days following the initial irrigation (or after planting in a moist seedbed.) This keeps the soil from crusting and the seed moist. It will be about 90 days from date of planting until first harvest. Do not mow or graze closer than 4cm during the first 2 or 3 harvests.
Soil must remain damp throughout the germination period of seeds and must be maintained for at least 1-2 weeks after sowing, through irrigation or natural rainfall.
Bermuda grasses are heavy and efficient uses of nitrogen. A total of 200 to 300 kg actual nitrogen per hectare annually is the normal recommendation.
This should be applied in 3 to 4 uniform applications of 75 to 80kg per hectare.
The first application should be made in early November as the grass begins to turn green, and the last application in late April or early May.
The water requirements of Bermuda grasses will vary from one year to the next and from one area to another. More frequent and lighter irrigation may be needed on sandy or shallow soils and heavier, less frequent irrigation of heavy soils.
Frequency of irrigation and amount of water needed each time depends on the soil and time of the year. During the growing season on most soils, if you are irrigating then use local evaporation figures plus 30 -75% weekly as a guide. This will vary across soil types; for example, on sand this may be as high as 50-75% above evaporation.
To get cattle to eat the maximum amount of available forage with a minimum of waste some form of strip grazing is recommended. This is best accomplished by confining the stock to a section of the pasture that will be grazed off in 2 or 3 days. With vigorous pasture growth a stocking rate up to 33 animals per hectare may be carried.
Following irrigation during the regrowth period, the topsoil should have time to dry before stock is put back on the plot. This will prevent soil compaction which will increase the length of stand and productivity of the pasture.
When grazing Bermuda grass, try to keep it under 15cm in height. During periods when the stock cannot keep the pasture grazed to this extent, it is advisable to cut the excess growth for green chop or hay. If clipped forage is not excessive, it can be wind rowed on the borders and left for the stock to eat.
Bermuda grass does not tolerate shade well.
As it is a warm climate grass it can lose its colour and become dormant over winter, particularly when exposed to frosts.
It may go into summer dormancy after prolonged drought, but it survives with an intact surface which will green up rapidly whenever rain falls.
- Recommended pH Rate: CaCl2 5.8 - 7
- Recommended Rainfall Rate: 650mm+
- Recommended Sow Rate:
Single species: 7 to 10kg/ha in pasture
Single species: 100kg/ha in turf