Louisiana forage producers can plant a new variety of bermudagrass that has proved to outproduce traditional varieties in Coastal Plain soils, said W.D. “Buddy” Pitman, LSU AgCenter researcher at the Rosepine Research Station.
The new variety is named Little Phillip after the grandson of one of its discoverers, Clyde Sneed of Florien, La., who first observed the plant growing in his Alicia bermudagrass field in 1991.
“It was darker green and had larger leaves,” said Sneed. He showed it to his friend, Larry Herrington, another hay producer in the area.
“We continued to watch the plant grow and take over approximately a quarter acre until 1996,” said Herrington. “Then, when we thought we had something special, I called our county agent.”
LSU AgCenter Agent Paul Morris in Sabine Parish looked at the grass and called Pitman, who then planted the cuttings in research plots on the Rosepine Research Station, which is near Rosepine, La., and compared the plants with the other leading bermudagrass varieties – Jiggs, Tifton-85 and Russell.
Phillip out-produced the closest variety in the test by more than 3,200 pounds per acre per year in a four-year study. Also, the laboratory digestibility results of Phillip compared similarly to the other varieties in the study.
“Usually we have to spend years of research developing new varieties,” said Pitman. “This one just came to us. But additional research is needed at other locations in the state and on different soil types.”
At first, the LSU AgCenter recommended planting Phillip bermudagrass only on West Louisiana Coastal Plain soils in only a few parishes. However, as of the fall of 2003, the recommendations for Phillip have been extended to all of Louisiana. This is significant for qualifications for federal conservation programs, Pitman said.
“I have high hopes for Phillip bermudagrass,” said Herrington. “And I’m planting more acres.”
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture