If you raise beef in Florida, then you know that the success of your operation is related to your forage. The fact that the amount and quality of forage you feed your cattle is directly related to the health, heartiness and size of your cattle is plain to see. It’s one topic where the researchers with UF/IFAS can offer some assistance in choosing the best perennial forage for your ranch. Read a summary of a publication from the South Florida Beef Forage program below.

Perennial Forage Benefits

According to the publication, utilizing a perennial forage is about saving money. “As a general rule, readily available pasture of good quality is your cheapest source of feed nutrients,” it reads. Cattle producers with small acreage will benefit from improving the forage in their pastures.

Perennial Forage Options

Find below information and details for the common perennial forages in Florida, from the UF/IFAS publication:

Bahiagrass – “A widely adapted, productive, persistent, and easily managed grass. It can be grown on most soil types with limited use of fertilizer. The greatest production occurs in summer, with limited growth during the fall. Varieties include: Argentine, Tifton 9, Pensacola, and TifQuick, and UF Riata. Bahiagrass is used primarily for grazing, but excess growth can be harvested for hay. Producers can also use bahiagrass as a cash crop by harvesting and selling seed or sod.”

Bermudagrass – “Improved hybrid bermudagrasses can be used for pasture and are well suited for hay production when grown on fertile, well-drained soils. In south Florida, they are as productive as stargrass; however they have limited tolerance to poorly drained soils. Bermudagrasses need high fertilization and management requirements. Several improved varieties are available: Jiggs, Tifton 85, Florakirk, Tifton 44, Callie, Coastcross-1, Suwannee, and Coastal.”

Stargrass - “Related to bermudagrass, stargrass is more productive in warm regions due to its lack of cold tolerance and is generally planted south of Orlando. Stargrass is very high yielding when fertilized with high rates of nitrogen, and produces more fall growth than bahiagrass. Some varieties available are: Okeechobee, Florico, Florona, and Ona. The stargrasses should be used under conditions of intensive grazing and high soil fertility. They are also suitable for hay or silage.”

Limpograss – “Limpograss is only adapted to poorly drained flatwoods soils and is recommended for use on land that is too moist to grow other grasses. It has excellent fall and spring growth in south Florida. Growth can be accumulated or stockpiled in the late summer / early fall to be grazed as a standing hay crop in the late fall / early winter. Recommended varieties include: Bigalta, Floralta, Gibtuck, and KenHy.”

Digitgrass – “A high-quality, high-producing forage for grazing or harvest. Pangola and Taiwan are the principal varieties of digitgrass, which can be grown in south Florida on most soil types. New plantings are generally restricted to new land, or land that is free of weedy grasses such as common bermuda and bahia. Digitgrass will not tolerate close grazing and is easily invaded by the aforementioned, less desirable grasses. Fall growth is minimal, and digitgrass is often slow to grow in the spring.”

Perennial Peanut – “A legume that is persistent and very high in quality, perennial peanut is adapted to well-drained soils and will not tolerate flooding. Planting is accomplished by digging and planting rhizomes. Without adequate soil moisture, establishment is risky, often requiring two or more years to develop an adequate stand. Perennial peanut can be grazed, or used for hay production. The most important cultivars are: Florigraze, Arbrook, Peave, Tito, and Ecotuf.”

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.