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Bahiagrass: Seeding Pastures

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SEEDING BAHIAGRASS
PASTURES

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Seeding Bahiagrass pastures requires following correcting seeding recommendations and then following up with a regular fertilization and mowing program until the grass is properly established. 

You should mow at least monthly until establishment is achieved so as to keep the weed competition to a level that the Bahiagrass can overcome.

Pensacola Bahia

Bahiagrass Pastures - Steps to follow:

STEP 1- Prepare your site for planting.  - Obtain a soil test analysis.  Make pH adjustments if needed.  Harrow the area to be planted.   Usually you should tiller the soil to the same degree that you would plant a garden on. 

STEP 2- Once  you have harrowed up the site and killed out existing grasses and weeds, you will need to level the area prior to planting.  If you have a pasture drag or finishing harrow these will work well.  You can also make your own drag by attaching a post and combination of chain link fence wire to the the back of your tractor with a chain. 

Drag the planting area until you have a smooth, level, clod-free planting site.

READY TO SEED

STEP 3- Now that you are ready to seed, you need to determine how to properly distribute the seeds over the area to be planted.  There are several planting methods you can use, all requiring the use of some sort of equipment.  Hand sowing of the Bahiagrass seed is not recommended because of the inability to spread the seed uniformly - Four methods are as follows:

SEEDING METHODS

METHOD A: The cheapest method is to use a bag type seeder in which you walk and sow the seed while operating a crank device.  This method works fine for smaller lawn or pasture areas of only a few acres, but it is not so easy to accomplish on larger acreage.

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METHOD B: A broadcast grass seeder designed to fit on the back or front of your tractor.  These usually use electric motors and can be set for very small flow rates.  Do not use a fertilizer hopper spreader as they cannot be set at a low enough rate if sowing seed alone --- UNLESS... You have a proper way to mix your fertilizer with the Bahiagrass seeds, but you need to watch out for problems that can occur:

  • Bahia seed are light and will not spread as far as the fertilizer.
  • It is hard to obtain a good "mixture" ... usually a mechanical mixer is required. 
  • Do not allow the fertilizer and seed mixture to "sit" for more than a couple of hours --- Injury or death to the seed can result from extended contact with the Bahiagrass seed.

 
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METHOD C:
A turfgrass or pasture seeder such as the Brillion seeder at right.  
This seeder can plant grasses at precise depths and in fairly precise rates when properly calibrated.  It is especially ideal for precise planting at low quantities of seed
.

METHOD D: A grain drill can also be used if you can modify the drill so that the spring tension is removed from the planting disks... That way the seed planting depth is closer to the 1/4 inch Bahiagrass requires, rather than the 1-2 inch depth for small grains.

SOWING OR SEEDING?

If you seed your pasture using a planting device (grain drill or turf seeder), you are basically finished.  If you have broadcast the seed... you need to now cover the seed close to the 1/4" ideal planting depth for Bahiagrass.  This can be accomplished using the same "drag implement" that you used to level your field.  As you drag across your field a large amount of the broadcast seed will be covered by a light covering of soil.  Do not use your harrow to cover the seed.  Almost without fail, this method results in the seed being planted (covered) too deep to germinate.

A good final finishing touch to planting a Bahiagrass pasture is to roll the field with a large roller.  This compacts the soil around the seed, creating a more favorable environment for Bahiagrass seed germination. 

Bahiagrass

The ideal planting months in the South for Bahiagrass are June, July and August.  This is because in general both the soil temperature and rainfall are highest during these months.  If the rainfall pattern in your area is a little different (earlier?) - You can plant Bahiagrass earlier.  In general it can be planted year round, though seed planted in the winter will not germinate until next spring/summer.  Bahiagrass contains "dormant" seed, so not all the seed will germinate at the same time.  Planting higher seed rates can generally result in a faster pasture establishment rate.

Bahiagrass - Planting compared to lawns

The steps to follow in planting a pasture in Bahiagrass are similar to those used for turfgrass planting.  The only differences are that you will be planting on a much larger scale, thus generally you will use larger equipment and tractors.  Also, since it is not a fine turf that you are wanting, but a high yielding open forage..... The rate of seeds planted are much less per acre than those recommended for turfgrass lawns.

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