Phil Busey Agronomy
Consulting Inc.


 

Bahiagrass

Mowing roadside right-of-way

Roadside mowing

(see Vehicular turf)

Bahiagrass, Paspalum notatum, is a drought resistant turf. It does well in lawns and along highways, and is best used in large sunny areas in warm humid regions. Its roots extend to 8 feet deep.

In Florida, bahiagrass survives in level areas with no irrigation, but often fails on sandy embankments. In Florida highway construction, the Florida Department of Transportation normally require a "muck blanket" as a planting bed for road shoulders and slopes. Bahiagrass can be ruined by excess watering, when none is required in level areas, and by excess fertilization. Bahiagrass normally goes semidormant during winter, yet people sometimes fertilize and water it to keep it green in winter, and thereby encourage weed populations. There are no postemergence herbicides for grass weeds in bahiagrass, which can be a major problem. Most weed problems in bahiagrass can be avoided by proper seed establishment and timely mowing. The large state agencies responsible for maintenance of utility turf struggle to find funds to keep bahiagrass mown properly. In summer its rapid vertical growth and exuberant seedhead production can be overwhelming, but on balance it is probably reasonable to call it a low maintenance turfgrass where it is used and maintained appropriately.

Argentine and Pensacola bahiagrass seed size

Bahiagrass seed

The cultivar 'Argentine' bahiagrass is superior to 'Pensacola' for use as turf in south Florida. It has a more abundant root system and is lower growing than Pensacola. Unfortunately, 'Argentine' winterkills more readily than 'Pensacola', thus 'Pensacola' is more often used in southeastern United States other than Florida. For most turf purposes, seed should be planted in the spring at about 100 pounds per acre (112 kg/ha) in clean seedbeds, incorporated 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep (6 to 12 mm) deep, and pressed in. Straw mulch is helpful, cast on the surface at 2 tons per acre (4500 kg/ha) and lightly disked in. In Florida, no irrigation is need to bring the seedlings out of the ground. Fertilization should be postponed until about the 5th week after planting, or after seedlings have begun to tiller, and have adventitious roots. Soon, within 2 months after planting, or whenever weeds have begun to be competitive, the area should be mown.

Scientific Papers on Bahiagrass

Adjei, M. B., P. Mislevy, R. S. Kalmbacher, and P. Busey. 1988. Production, quality, and persistence of tropical grasses as influenced by grazing frequency. Proc. Soil Crop Sci. Soc. Florida 48:1-6.

Busey, P. 1989. Progress and benefits to humanity from breeding warm-season grasses for turf. p. 49-70 in: D. A. Sleper, K. H. Asay, and J. F. Pedersen (eds.). Contributions from breeding forage and turf grasses. CSSA Spec. Publ. 15, Crop Science Society of America, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

Busey, P. 1989. Genotype selection and seeding rate in bahiagrass establishment. pp 40-45 in: Transportation Research Record 1224, TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C.

Busey, P. 1992. Seedling growth, fertilization timing, and establishment of bahiagrass. Crop Sci. 32:1099-1103.

Busey, P. 2003. Cultural management of weeds in turfgrass: A review. Crop Science 43:1899-1911.

Busey, P. and B. J. Myers. 1979. Growth rates of turfgrasses propagated vegetatively. Agron. J. 71:817-821.

Busey, P. and R. W. White. 1993. South Florida: A center of origin for turfgrass production. Int. Turfgrass Soc. J. 7:863-869.

Fluck, R. C. and P. Busey. 1988. Energy for mowing turfgrass. Trans. ASAE 31:1304-1308.

Neel, P. L., E. O. Burt, P. Busey, and G. H. Snyder. 1978. Sod production in shallow beds of waste materials. J. Am. Soc. Hort. Sci. 103:549-553.

Reinert, J. A. and P. Busey. 2005. Response of bahiagrass, Paspalum notatum, genotypes to feeding damage by tawny mole cricket, Scapteriscus vicinus. Internat. Turfgrass Res. Soc. J. 10:767-771.