Bahia grass, a drought-resistant grass, spreads by above-ground stems that root from nodes. It tolerates grazing and tramping by cattle and is grown primarily as fodder, although it can serve as turf. For optimal seed production, prospective growers should consider a number of tips relating to climate, soil, seed varieties and how to cultivate Bahia.
Bahia, drought resistant, is best grown at temperatures from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. In Australia, it has survived temperatures of 14 degrees F. Flowering will be inhibited if the temperature drops below 55 degrees F at night.
Bahia is best grown in sandy soils that have a pH of 5.5 to 6.5, although it will tolerate a wide range of soil pH.
How and When to Seed
Bahia grass seeds germinate slowly. To improve germination, especially of common Bahia, scarify seeds with sulfuric acid. The best germination temperature is 86 to 95 degrees F. Sow up to an inch deep, 10 to 15 pounds an acre. The seeds should germinate in a month. Seed thickly to avoid competition by weeds. Apply 40 to 60 pounds of nitrogen at seeding.
How and When to Fertilize
Apply 100 to 200 pounds of nitrogen per acre of established pastures. Apply two or three times during the growing season.
Tips on Harvesting
Bahia seed is ordinarily harvested from established pastures. Bahia produces seeds from June to November. The production is low and can further be reduced by ergot, the fungus Claviceps purpurea.
The seed ripens progressively over the summer. The best results are obtained when the seed is harvested with a beater harvester. The seeds should be dried immediately; their germination improves after they are stored for three years
Common Bahia has lower yields than other Bahia grasses and is least able to stand the cold. It has short broad leaves and oval-shaped seeds covered with a waxy husk that makes scarification necessary for good germination.
Horticulturalists have developed several high-yielding varieties.
Argentine has wide leaves and is preferred by cattle. It grows well in midsummer but is susceptible to ergot that damages the seeds and can poison cattle.
Paraquay, a tough, low-yielding hybrid with short, narrow leaves, was developed in Georgia. It is a general purpose turf grass.
Paraquay 22 is similar to Argentine, but surives cold better and is not susceptible to ergo. It produces more than Parquay.
Pensacola, the widely grown variety of Bahia, has narrow blades and small seeds that germinate easily. It is cold hardy and will produce ground cover and full sand in two to three months. It is considered cold hardy, but a moderate frost will kill the top growth.
Tifhi 1, Tifhi 2, and Pensacola X Common are hybrids developed in Georgia. Tifhi 2 yields 7 percent more dry forage than Tifhi 1 and is more disease resistant. It is difficult to produce seeds from these hybrids because they are self-sterile but cross-fertile.
Wilmington is the most resistant to frost.