Red River Crabgrass was developed by the Noble Foundation, following crabgrass research and development that, in part, looked at the historic use of Crabgrass by farmers for grazing and hay production. The parent plant for Red River Crabgrass was one plant of Hairy Crabgrass: Digitaria ciliaris. In 1988, Red River Crabgrass was officially named and released.
As a runner grass, Crabgrass spreads by stolons, which can grow to 4 ft. in length. Where the stolons touch the ground, roots are produced. Red River Crabgrass can grow to around 3 ft. high, and produces enough seed for volunteer re-establishment.
Crabgrass, including the Red River variety (RRCG), is one of the Summer grasses with the highest quality. These grasses are used in numerous Winter/Summer double-cropping syndromes and other forage approaches. Interest in Crabgrass forage has increased over the years, and the grass now is used in manure disposal and effluent and irrigation systems for cattle-confinement operations, including feed yards, and swine and poultry confinement enterprises.
This research was conducted in four replications over two years to determine production and quality parameters of RRCG under irrigation and high fertilization on a fine sandy loam soil. Harvests were made when grass was 12 to 24 in. tall, during late-grazing stages to early hay stages. Average total production of RRCG for the high-production treatment was 9,718 lbs. per acre, for a total fertilizer input of 325 N-92 P2O5-400 K2O (lbs. per acre) and 1.9 in. of total moisture per week for six months.
The nitrogen application averaged 1.9 lbs. per growing day, which is a good guide for upper-level production and quality management. Total yields were satisfactory but less than optimal because of 2,4-D suppression, some nitrogen damage to seedling stands, and excessive mower damage, all of which retarded initial growth and regrowth.
Crude protein averaged 15.2% per date of sampling, with a low of 9.1% at the last harvest at mature plant stages (RRCG was managed for volunteer stands) and a high of 19.9%. Seventy percent of harvests were 14% crude protein or more. The RRCG produced 1,527 lbs. of crude protein per acre per year, which indicated a nitrogen efficiency of 75%.
The RRCG averaged 76.8% in vitro neutral detergent fiber digestibility overall, 80.02% from June through August, and 65.7% from September through October in mature plants. These data indicate that RRCG pasture similarly managed would be capable of supplying growing heifers nutrition sufficient to produce 2.0 lbs. or more of average daily gain 70% of the season, except during the last growth of matured forage, when heifers maintain weight or make only slight gains.
These and other data show that RRCG is suitable for good forage production under intensive fertilizer/nutrient management and adequate moisture availability.
Crude protein and in vitro neutral detergent fiber digestibility quality parameters were excellent and the latter's content was superb. These data illustrate that RRCG can be a valid, high-quality forage alternative under irrigation, in the more humid southeastern one-third of the United States and other areas, and in manure disposal systems.
Plant at a rate of 4 to 10 lbs. per acre, when soil temperature reaches at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.