Unlimited access >

Bermudagrass vs Bahia grass pasture?

I have bahiagrass pastures. Unfortunately the crabgrass has invaded and is far more drought tolerant than the Bahia. The horses do not like the Crabgrass. I’ve been resting my front pasture for several weeks. The crabgrass looks great (lush and green). The Bahia looks good in some areas but is completely gone/dead in others from the drought this spring. Bahia really needs frequent rains to do well or it just dries up.

Now that we should be getting more rain I was thinking of putting seed down and debating if I should try something different like Bermuda grass?

Is Bermuda more drought tolerant than Bahia? Will my horses graze the Bermuda or will they have a preference for the Bahia? Or should I just stick with Bahia?

Bermuda is more persistent than Bahia in my paddocks. That said, all Bermuda is not the same. IME “common” Bermuda is readily available as it is a popular lawn grass. “Common” Bermuda does not produce the same tonnage of forage per acre that pasture / hay production varieties such as Coastal or Alicia etc. produce. Some varieties are available as plugs only as I understand. IME it’s difficult to source small quantities of pasture varieties of Bermuda seed. Ditto for small quantities of “plugs” of pasture Bermuda varieties. I don’t know what quantities you’re looking for … But for myself looking to overseed small areas, Bahia is a better choice. I do live in an area with lots of rainfall on the Gulf Coast. I’ve had excellent results with both Bahia and Bermuda seeds.

The Bahia in my pasture is pretty drought tolerant. My horses don’t seem to like it much except for the seedheads. They love the seedheads. They prefer the bermuda grass but I think Bahia will crowd out the bermuda. But I guess that depends on the soil. I have patches of bermuda where I have dropped stall cleanings, mostly shavings, on the way out to the back of the pasture. It seems to like areas that are bare and fills them in. And loves to grow on top of dumped wet spots from the stall.

And yes, a lot of the bermuda varieties used for hay are sprigged and not grown from seed. I have used lawn bermuda seeds to fill in bare spots on a fenceline and it spread pretty well until the horse started fence walking and tore it all up.

Just a note about bermuda for you who don’t know. Coastal bemuda, a very popular forage grass here in the sunny south, has been around since 1948. So long that many new folks think of it as a native species. But it is a hybrid developed at the University of Georgia, and while it produces seed, the seeds are mostly sterile, as with many hybrids. Coastal bermuda needs to be put in as springs, plugs, or as sod.

2 Likes

Bahia requires more water than Bermuda, so not appropriate for my area. There are varieties of Bermuda grass seed suitable for forage that don’t require being put in as sprigs or plugs. I’ve bought those for a small stand very near my barn, that I can keep watered during drought times so that there is always a little something green on which to graze, even if only for brief periods at a time (I figure 20 to 45 minutes, once or twice a day, is better than nothing during a drought).

There are businesses run by agronomists that offer seed in smaller quantities (by the pound, for instance); I suggest looking in one’s region for such a business, or checking with a land-grant university in the region, and following their recommendations.

Our pastures otherwise are kept in a mix of native grasses, occasionally over-seeded with a native grass pasture mix.