Seeded bermudagrass varieties could someday compete with top-yielding sprigged varieties, says a researcher at Texas A&M University’s Overton Research and Extension Center.

The jury is still out, however. The verdict depends on the outcome of at least three more years of tests, says Gerald Evers.

The past two years, Evers has been testing experimental seeded bermudagrass lines developed by Charlie Rogers of Seeds West Inc., Maricopa, AZ. Some of those lines were as productive as top-yielding sprigged varieties such as Tifton 85.

The tests should be of interest to producers because of the cost difference in es-tablishing sprigged vs. seeded varieties. Sprigging can cost from $125 to $200/acre, depending on sprig costs, fertilizer prices and the cost of the actual sprigging. Although seed varieties can cost aout half that amount, existing seeded varieties can’t compete with Tifton 85 in terms of yields and digestibility.

Evers has been working with 166 experimental lines. He’s cautious about dis-cussing specific experimental lines because seed supplies for testing were lim-ited.

“With limited seed we just don’t have enough replications to talk about yields of specific experimental lines with confidence,” he says. “We feel good, though, that a dozen or so compare favorably in yield with Tifton 85.”

He also cautions that, with only two years of data, it’s hard to rule out variances due weather and other factors.

But some experimental lines produced, in 2002, the equivalent of 9,000 lbs/acre, compared with 6,300 lbs for Coastal and 8,900 lbs for Tifton 85. Results for 2003, a wetter year, were comparable; some experimental lines produced more than 14,000 lbs/acre compared to about 14,000 lbs for Tifton 85 and about 12,000 lbs for Coastal.

After another year of field trials, the top-yielding 12-15 lines will be crossed. When the crosses are made, enough seed will be available to do more extensive tests with more replications and other locations.

“Then we will have more reliable data and be able to talk about yield perform-ance with some confidence,” Evers says.