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Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) response to summer prescribed burning

Treadwell, M. L.. 2019.

Abstract

ermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.) is one of the principle hay and forage crops throughout Texas. However, maintaining the productivity of those pastures can be challenging due to high input costs such as fertilizer and herbicide. To offset fertilizer costs and increase vegetative reproduction of bermudagrass stands, a summer prescribed burn was implemented on an irrigated bermudagrass pasture in west-central Texas. Summer fires took place on 30 July 2015 near San Angelo, Texas. Soil response to burning was measured using plant root simulator probes (PRS Western Technologies) to determine the belowground effects of a hot summer prescribed burn. Vegetative reproduction of bermudagrass was assessed by determining active, dormant, and dead vegetative buds on bermudagrass tillers. Forage quality of bermudagrass hay samples were also assessed to determine prescribed burn effects. Prescribed burning was beneficial to bermudagrass irrigated pasture. Bioavailable nitrogen (N), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), and sulphur (S) increased following the prescribed burn compared to the non-burned control. Burned bermudagrass had increased bud bank activity and density compared to non-burned controls. Forage analysis also showed positive responses to prescribed burning with increases in crude protein (cp), total digestive nutrients (TDN), K, and Ca in hay forage samples compared to samples taken from non-burned controls. Prescribed burning presents a positive, inexpensive alternative to fertilizer on irrigated bermudagrass pastures. Prescribed burning offers both below-and aboveground positive effects through increased forage quality, soil fertility, and vegetative reproductive buds of bermudagrass.

Key Words

bud banks,tiller,vegetative reproduction