Tifton 9 Bahiagrass is considered a very durable pasture grass for horses. Tifton 9 Bahiagrass grows faster than regular Pensacola Bahiagrass. Tifton 9 Bahia has more drought tolerance and more frost resistance than Pensacola Bahiagrass.
Hancock Farm & Seed Company first harvested and processed an 100-acre field of Tifton 9 Bahiagrass during the 2009 season. This field was planted with certified Tifton 9 Bahiagrass during 2003. Today we still continue to harvest our Uncertified Tifton 9 Bahiagrass. It is labeled and sold as Pensacola Bahiagrass for legal reasons.
Tifton 9 Bahiagrass is not recommended for lawns due to fast growth during the summer months.
Tifton-9 is an improved Pensacola Bahiagrass variety that was bred and developed by Dr. Glen Burton, Agricultural Research Service, U.S.D.A., and the Georgia Coastal Plain Experiment Station. It has several improved characteristics. Tifton-9 produces 30 to 40% more forage per year than the old Pensacola variety from which it was developed.
Tifton-9, as well as other Pensacola types, have more frost and cold tolerance than Argentine or Paraguay 22. Thus, it may produce more growth at the beginning and end of the growing season. Besides producing more forage, Tifton-9 is much more vigorous in the seedling stage, has longer leaves, and is equal to Pensacola in digestibility. The increased seedling vigor should provide for more rapid stand establishment and increased ability to compete with weeds. Grazing information is somewhat limited, but in one study steers made good weight gains on Tifton-9. This indicates that it is palatable and acceptable to cattle.
Tifton 9 Bahia grass is commonly used for pastures and hay production across the southern United States including: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Northeast Texas, and Southwest California.
Broadcast 25-50 lbs. per acre (25 lbs. takes 12 - 24 months to fully sod the pasture).
Overseeding rates depend on the amount of established or existing grass in the pasture area. Common applications for overseeding are 10 - 25 lbs. per acre.
Land preparation and planting:
An ideal site on which to plant Tifton 9 would be new ground, or areas where Bahiagrass has never been planted. Next would be fields that have been in row crops, or have been cultivated for several years. These sites should have almost no Bahiagrass plants and relatively low populations of Bahiagrass seed in the soil. This should result in a fairly pure stand of Tifton 9 plants. Old pastures that need to be renovated are a great option for Tifton 9. These may have been planted to Bahiagrass, or have been infested with Bahiagrass through movement of seed by animals from one area to another. The end result is that something needs to be done to eliminate the Bahiagrass plants present, and also reduce the population of seed in the soil. In order to convert an old Bahiagrass pasture to Tifton 9, the following land preparation and planting procedures are suggested:
Plow with a moldboard plow. This will bury much of the surface weed seed too deep to germinate.
Plant an annual forage crop, such as Pearl Millet or Sorghum-Sudangrass, during the warm season, and a small Grain, Ryegrass, or Clover, during the cool season. The growing of annual crops with associated cultivation helps to eliminate any remaining Bahiagrass plants and reduces the population of Bahiagrass seed near the soil surface.
Bahiagrass can be planted from February through July in most areas of Florida. Plantings made from late March through May can be lost due to drought, especially in South Central Florida. Thus it may be wise to avoid planting during this time period. Plant on a clean-tilled seedbed that has been prepared by using a heavy cutting disc, or other suitable tillage tool, plus a finishing disc that leaves a smooth surface free of trash.
If possible, use a cultipacker-type seeder or some other precision seeder in order to place all of the seed at a uniform depth. Seed should be planted at 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep.
Fertilization for Establishment:
The soil should be limed to a pH of 5.0 to 5.5 before planting. On land that has been cropped in the past, it may be more efficient to apply the major fertilizer elements after planting. Apply fertilizer when the Bahiagrass seedlings have emerged from the soil. Apply 30 to 40 lbs. of nitrogen per acre, along with phosphorus and potash (according to a soil test recommendation). When the Bahiagrass plants are large enough to start spreading, apply an additional 40 to 50 lbs. of nitrogen.
No herbicide is available for use at planting and while plants are young and immature. Therefore be sure to start with a clean-tilled seedbed. Use mowing to control broadleaf weeds. No control is available for grassy weeds, such as seedling Bermudagrass, Crabgrass, and the "old" Bahiagrass seed that might germinate. Once the grass is well-established, the phenoxy-type herbicides, such as 2, 4-D and Banvel, can be used to control broad leaf weeds.