Competition from other grasses and weeds is the number one reason for bermudagrass stand failure.
Taking steps upfront to reduce this competition will increase your chance of successful establishment.
When planting in fields or paddocks with a history of weeds, don’t get in a hurry to plant. If soil
temperature is not consistently 65○
For higher at a depth of 4”, bermudagrass will not germinate. When the seed does germinate it will be weaker and more susceptible to competition. Prepare the seedbed well
in advance to allow the first flush of crabgrass and other weed and grass competition to emerge. Use a
non-selective, non-residual herbicide such as glyphosate to kill this flush of weeds before planting
seeded varieties of bermuda like Cheyenne II, Ranchero Frio or Mohawk. Once the bermuda becomes
established, there are several herbicides that can be used to control many weed species.
Will Cheyenne II seeded-type forage bermudagrass revert back to common after only a few years
No. Cheyenne II is a certified, stable variety. It is not a mixture or blend of seed containing common
bermuda. As such, it remains as is; i.e. an excellent yielding, highly digestible, improved forage
bermudagrass year after year.
Can a field planted in seeded bermudagrass in late spring or early summer be overseeded with
ryegrass in the fall?
Pennington forage experts do not recommend overseeding newly established bermuda with winter
annuals or clover the fall following spring planting. Bermuda roots and stolons need time to establish
and mature prior to introducing competitive forages. In fact, if weather or other circumstances prevent
the bermuda from becoming fully established during year one, it may be necessary to delay overseeding
the field until the 3rd fall after planting.
Are there management techniques that can help insure successful seeded bermudagrass stand
Yes. For quicker germination and more vigorous seedlings, seeded bermudagrass planting should be delayed
until late spring when soil temperatures have stabilized at 65 degrees or higher. After the bermuda germinates
and begins to tiller (develop runners), apply 30-40 lbs nitrogen/ac. Monitor broadleaf weed and summer annual
grass emergence. If broadleaf weeds become troublesome, a low dose (1-1½ pts/A) of 2,4-D amine may be
applied when the bermuda begins to develop runners. If broadleaf weeds become a problem before runners
develop, mow the area as needed to reduce weed competition and shading of the seedling bermuda plants. Keep
annual grasses and johnsongrass periodically mowed until the bermuda is well established. Do not graze or
harvest for hay until the bermuda is 6-8” or more in height. If harvested for hay, leave at least a 2.0” – 2.5” of
stubble height. Allow the bermuda to obtain a minimum of 3-4” of re-growth prior to a killing frost.
What management practices are necessary to keep a bermuda stand thick and productive?
To begin, take a soil sample to determine soil pH, phosphorus and potassium levels. While bermudagrass is
considered a hardy and low maintenance forage, it cannot tolerate low soil fertility over long periods of time. To
cut costs, farmers often apply ample amounts of nitrogen but fail to maintain proper soil pH and adequate soil
levels of phosphorus and potassium. This leads to poor yields, plant decline and thinning stands. According to
forage specialists, for every ton of bermuda hay taken per acre, approximately 45 lbs. of nitrogen, 10 lbs. of
phosphorus and 48 lbs. of potash per acre are removed with it. Potassium is of particular importance because it
is a key component of cell wall structure giving the plant improved winter hardiness and disease resistance.
Potassium also increases rhizome and stolon production which allows bermuda stands to remain thick and
Weed Control: A selective, annual grass or broadleaf weed control pre-emergent herbicide that is labelled for use on bermudagrass and applied during late winter and spring will reduce many weeds the following summer. If a pre-emergent herbicide was not applied, then the resulting weeds will need to be controlled using post-emergent herbicides.
Late Summer: Depending on the soil type, apply ½ to 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet before August 15 using a fertilizer that is also high potassium, such as a 15-0-15. It is important for the soil to have sufficient potassium, especially late in the growing season as the grass enters dormancy. Potassium is important for disease resistance and cold weather hardiness.
Irrigation: Water to prevent drought stress. Monitor the lawn on a regular basis to assess the need for an irrigation. When the entire lawn appears dry, apply ¾ to 1 inch of water the next morning. Wait to irrigate again when the lawn shows moisture stress. There are several ways to determine when the lawn needs watering. One way is to monitor the lawn daily. When the turf begins to dry, it will appear to have a bluish color. Another method is to walk across the lawn late in the evening. If the grass blades in the footprints rebound, there is plenty of moisture in the turf. If the grass in the footprints do not rebound, then water the next morning.
September through December
Disease Control: For disease control, especially large patch, it is extremely important to treat with fungicides during the fall months. With warm temperatures through September and the possibility of excessive rainfall that may occur during that period, diseases can spread rapidly. However, with cooler nights and shorter day lengths, control can be quite difficult because of slow turf recovery during this time. Turf weakened by disease in fall will be slow to recover in the spring; therefore, fungicide applications are needed to control disease before the grass goes dormant. In certain situations where large patch has been prevalent yearly, preventative fungicide applications may be needed starting in early October to stay a head of the disease. For more information on disease control, please see HGIC 2150, Brown Patch & Large Patch Diseases of Lawns.
Producing a yearly maintenance calendar for managing turfgrass consistently year after year can be difficult in a state with such a diverse climate as South Carolina. Because of this, it is important to monitor temperatures and apply the needed management practices based on that year’s climate. Important times to monitor the weather are late winter or early spring when the turf is coming out of dormancy and early fall when first frosts are forecasted. Last frost dates and first frost dates can vary by several weeks to a month from coastal areas of South Carolina to the foothills of the Upstate.
Irrigation: During dormancy, water the lawn to prevent excessive dehydration. Winter desiccation can be a problem during dry winters. Watering to prevent drought stress can help eliminate turf loss during winter.
Selective grassy weed control herbicide that can be used during the summer is limited. If summer annual grassy weeds are a problem, a preemergent herbicide program will be the best choice.
Bermuda grass does well in full sun, but it will tolerate some shade.
As soon as the grass reaches 2 inches (5 cm.), it can be mowed with a sharp blade. Mowing will help the grass toughen up and spread.
The Spanish brought Bermuda grass to America in the 1500’s from Africa. This attractive, dense grass, also known as “South Grass,” is an adaptable warm-season turf that many people use for their lawns. It is also found in pastures, on athletic fields, golf courses, parks and more. Let’s learn more about how and when to plant Bermuda grass.
When to Plant Bermuda Grass
Bermuda grass is a cold tolerant, warm-season grass that will grow as far north as Virginia. In warmer tropical areas, Bermuda grass will remain green all year long. In other areas that drop below 60 degrees F. (15 C.), it will go dormant.
Start by raking the area to be seeded until it is as smooth as possible. Make a mixture of equal parts sand and seed. The seed can be broadcast using a spreader or by hand for smaller areas. To avoid skips in the lawn, distribute half the mixture lengthwise and half of the mixture crosswise.
The best time to plant Bermuda grass is in the spring once temperatures are consistently warm; this is generally in April or March in warmer regions.
Bermuda is not overly picky about soil type and will even tolerate salt spray, making it a good option for coastal regions.