Written Paper

Breeding Bermuda grass for the southeastern United States  [1947]

Burton, G.W.

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The evidence available indicates that Bermuda grass, Cynodon dactylon, is a highly cross-pollinated tetraploid having 36 somatic chromosomes and several fragments. Since Bermuda grass can be economically propagated by vegetative planting, a breeding program designed to produce superior clones was used. Making controlled Bermuda grass hybrids is extremely tedious and time-consuming. Consequently, the breeding program was begun with 5,000 seedlings from open-pollinated seed obtained from common, Tift, and two South African Bermudas that were interplanted in a crossing block. Following one year's observations, 147 of the best of these clones representing a range in types, were planted in 4 X 24 foot plots in triplicate. Over 50 observations were recorded for each plot from 1939 to 1946. Characteristics studied included rate of spread, sod density, frost resistance, disease resistance, yield, percentage weeds, percentage cover, seed yield and seed set, the interaction when grown with crimson clover and with Kobe lespedeza, root-knot-nematode resistance, and longevity. Striking differences in all measurements were observed. Other experiments were designed to compare following features of a few superior clones: Fertilization requirements, chemical composition, palatability, and the yield and longevity when clipped to simulate close grazing. Coastal Bermuda, one of the best of these clones, equals or surpasses the parents in all characteristics, makes good qualit
y grass hay, and has produced nearly twice as much beef as common Bermuda grass when grazed. Station workers and farmers in the Southeast who have grown Coastal Bermuda report that it appears to be widely adapted and generally superior to common Bermuda. Coastal Bermuda grass sprigs are being certified by the Georgia Crop Improvement Association and a number of farmers are planting them.

From the journal

Journal of the American Society of Agronomy

ISSN : 0095-9650