New limpograss cultivars

What cattle ranch operations need to know

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) has released two new limpograss cultivars, both of which show superior traits over the current industry standard, according to UF Associate Professor and Forage Specialist Joao Vendramini.

The new cultivars, Gibgrass and KenHy, are named after cattle business veteran Gilbert Tucker and forage breeder Dr. Ken Quesenberry, respectively. The cultivars feature higher nutritional value and are more efficient for the cattle ranch operation, according to Vendramini. “We believe that we can have better production and cows with better body conditions, and we can increase pregnancy rate and ultimately have more calves,” Vendramini elaborates.

Development of the two new cultivars began when the Florida Cattlemen’s Association (FCA) prioritized new limpograss plants in 2004, with concerns of genetic vulnerability. The last release of a new limpograss plant was Floralta 25 years ago. Since that time, the strain has been planted in over 400,000 acres and is the second-most common grass for grazing, according to UF/IFAS. The FCA called for greater nutritive value and the persistent quality of Floralta under cattle for the new plants.

The UF Agronomy Department crossed two limpograss types, Floralta and Bigalta, in 2005 and studied the resulting hybrid plants. The two chosen cultivars performed as well as or better than Floralta in the specified categories. UF/IFAS held its release event for the two plants on August 7, with a description of the cultivars from Quesenberry and a tour of the limpograss fields.

The cultivars will be used in trial for the next year. According to Vendramini, the plants propagate by stem—which means there is a limited amount of plant material available. The FCA chose a small group of cultivar producers for 2014, and those producers will be responsible for multiplying the plant material and making it more widely available.

Vendramini expects more producers by 2015 for cattle ranch operations that are interested in incorporating the new strands into their fields. “Not just nationally but internationally, Vendramini explains. “Any cattle farm can be interested in this plant.”

photos courtesy of UF/IFAS

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