ForageFax: Native grasses for Texas

Source: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension | April 5, 2019

You may be surprised to learn that bermudagrass and bahiagrass are NOT native to Texas, much less to the United States. There are numerous species of grasses and forbs that can be utilized for forage throughout the state of Texas. Keep in mind as you select forages to be mindful of your production system goals, location (soil type and rainfall), and the nutrient needs of our livestock and/or wildlife.

Indiangrass and Little bluestem. Photo courtesy of Jack LeClair

Many livestock producers are considering forage species and varieties that do not require as much fertilizer as bermudagrass.

At the same time, many landowners have expressed interest in restoring native prairies for wildlife habitat enhancement. Native grasses are well adapted and quite persistent with good grazing management, but typically are not used for hay production.

vNatives grasses may require longer time to establish and are less tolerant of overstocking. If interested, check with your local county extension agentNatural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel, or Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist to determine which species are best adapted to your location.

Some native grass species:

  • Little bluestem
  • Indiangrass
  • Eastern gamagrass
  • Switchgrass
  • Sideoats grama
  • Big bluestem

Some native forb species:

  • Maximillian sunflower
  • Engelmann daisy
  • Illinois bundleflower
  • Bush sunflower

Dr. Megan Clayton, associate professor and Extension range specialist, has some excellent resources that can help guide the decision making process on the utilization of native forages. Click here to download a 7-page PDF “Using Goals and Profitability to Determine What to Plant in Pastures.”Deciding What to Plant

by Vanessa Corriher-Olson
Forage Extension Specialist, Soil & Crop Sciences, Overton
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Texas A&M University System

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