Livestock producers know that the health and abundance of a quality forage can directly affect the health and productivity of their livestock. Thus, livestock producers often think of themselves as “forage farmers” because they spend a large amount of time and resources growing and managing forages. Producers in the southern half of Florida have many unique challenges when it comes to growing healthy pastures. These challenges include: extreme heat, humidity, very dry winters, very wet summers, poorly drained soils, and an abundance of pests and plant diseases. Adding to these challenges is the fact that a number of forages that perform well in other parts of the southeast United States don’t always perform as well in the southern half of Florida. So is there a solution?
In 2000 Dr. Paul Mislevy, a professor at the University of Florida, came across an off-type of bermudagrass plant present in a Tifton 85 bermudagrass field. He collected the plant, multiplied it in a greenhouse, and later planted to a field where Mislevy became established in 2001. With nearly 20 years of trails, analysis, and research Mislevy was then released to livestock producers, particularly those in the southern half of Florida.
So what makes Mislevy different than past cultivars such as Tifton 44. Tifton 85, Jiggs, or Coastal? Well during these 20 years, the University of Florida conducted a broad network of research throughout the state. This included the 12 UF/IFAS RECs and six different research and demonstration sites. During this span, Mislevy, along with the other common bermudagrass cultivars, went through a series of trails. These trails tested everything from herbage accumulation, nutritive values, grazing frequencies, and disease tolerance. Upon completion of these trials this is what the University of Florida has to say about Mislevy.
Mislevy is the University’s 107th grass cultivar and is a natural bermudagrass hybrid. Mislevy is propagated by mature tops and sprigs. In subtropical regions, this cultivar has superior herbage accumulation (HA) in the early spring months. This early herbage accumulation is of great importance to producers because early spring and fall are periods of limited forage. Having an early spring forage option can offer livestock producers the option to decrease the need of supplemental feed. Nutritive value was similar among Mislevy and other bermudagrass cultivars.
In addition, Mislevy had greater herbage accumulation at longer regrowth intervals. This is an important characteristic that can give flexibility to producers to delay forage harvest during Florida’s unpredictable weather. Another characteristic of Mislevy is its thinner stems, thinner than Tifton 85, making it an attractive option for hay producers. Thinner stems means the forage will dry faster once cut and can also be better for marketing purposes due to the perception that thinner stems results in better nutritive value. Due to the early spring growth hay producers are also more likely to have the opportunity to produce hay earlier in the spring allowing for greater market opportunities.
Mislevy is a potential new bermudagrass cultivar for South Florida. If you are interested in learning more about Mislevy bermudagrass and/or would like to know where to obtain planting material please contact your local county Extension agent.
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.