Bowie vs. Cody Buffalograss


Bowie and Cody buffalograss are cultivars of Bouteloua dactyloides, a prairie grass native to large parts of the Great Plains, from Montana to Texas. Both varieties were developed as turfgrass by horticulturists at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. They are known for being winter hardy and using little water.

Buffalograss Basics

The fine-textured buffalograss is a warm-season grass, meaning it goes dormant in the winter. It dominates the Midwestern plains along with blue grama, Bouteloua gracilis. It grows from 2 to 5 inches high through most of its range, although it can grow as high as 12 inches. It spreads both by seeds and by stolons, shoots on top of the ground. Buffalograss provided the sod that many pioneers used to built houses on the prairie.


Both Bowie and Cody are dense, low-growing, dark green cultivars of buffalograss that were developed from native strains as turfgrass. They are slow-growing and require infrequent mowing and little watering. In areas of sparse rainfall and cold winters both are useful for highway medians and are useful for golf fairways and lawns, parks and playgrounds that are not heavily used. Neither Bowie nor Cody do well with heavy traffic.

Soil and Sun

Chemically treated Bowie and Cody seeds need to be chilled at 5 to 10 degrees F for 6 to 8 weeks to break dormancy. They are best planted in April and May in well-drained soil. They don't do well in sand. They need 6 to 8 hours of sun per day in the spring and summer. Studies conducted by the U.S. Golfing Association show that buffalograss can get along with as little as 1 inch of irrigation or rainfall per month in the growing season.


Texoka buffalograss, released in 1974, was the first buffalograss cultivar marketed commercially. Funded by the U.S. Golfing Association, the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, began research in native turfgrasses in 1984. Nebraska horticulturists released Tatanka, a seeded version of Texoka buffalograss in 1995. In 1997, they released Cody, a dark green, dense buffalograss. Cody grows quickly from seed, and its stolons spread rapidly. Cody is winter-hardy. Cody was the top-ranked buffalograss among the 15 cultivars tested by the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program between 1996 and 2000.


The University of Nebraska released Bowie, a seeded turf-type buffalograss in 2001. Bowie is a darker green than earlier buffalograss cultivars. It survives winter cold and is resistant to mealybugs. Bowie buffalograss is seeded at the rate of 2 to 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet. It grows best in temperatures above 60 degrees F. It should be mowed 2 to 4 inches high. Mature turf needs infrequent watering. Before Nebraska horticulturists released Bowie, Cody was the top-ranked seeded variety of buffalograss in comparative tests conducted in 28 locations by the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program between 1991 and 1995.

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About this Author

Richard Hoyt, the author of 26 mysteries, thrillers and other novels, is a former reporter for Honolulu dailies and writer for "Newsweek" magazine. He taught nonfiction writing and journalism at the university level for 10 years. He holds a Ph.D. in American studies.