Sustainable Agriculture Agent
UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County
Ranchers from across southern Florida gathered for a day of learning, networking, and tours of the forage research projects being conducted by University of Florida professors and graduate students, at an Oct. 24 Field Day at the UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research and Education Center (REC) in Ona.
Pastured livestock producers sometimes jokingly call themselves “grass farmers” because they know that the health of their livestock depends on the health and abundance of the grasses growing in their pastures. The southern half of Florida has unique challenges in growing healthy pasture: extreme heat, humidity, very dry winters, very wet summers, poorly drained soils, and an abundance of pests and plant diseases. Pasture grasses that perform well in other parts of the southeast United States don’t always perform as well in the southern half of Florida.
The University of Florida has conducted forage grass research for many years, part of a broad network of research activity that includes 12 UF/IFAS RECs and six research and demonstration sites. In fact, the university released its first pasture grass cultivar in 1892. And at the Oct. 24 Field Day at the Ona REC, Dr. Joao Vendramini, the forage specialist at the facility, announced the release of the University’s 107th grass cultivar, Mislevy Bermudagrass.
Dr. Paul Mislevy, for whom the new variety is named, discovered the plant in 2000 while walking through a trial planting of a common variety of Bermudagrass. He noticed a single grass plant that was substantially taller than all the other grass in the field. He dug up the plant, carefully multiplied it in a greenhouse, and then planted it out into a field. Nearly 20 years of trials, analysis, and research has culminated in the release of that Mislevy Bermudagrass, uniquely adapted to both grazing and hay production in southern Florida.
Mislevy Bermudagrass will be available to producers at three different UF research stations, including the Ona REC, beginning in the summer of 2020. For more information, call 863-735-1314.