Greener pastures could lie ahead for Florida beef cattle producers.
Florida producers are growing two new grass varieties created by UF in partnership with Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Inc.
The grass, which contains a better nutritional value and lifespan, could save cattlemen money, said John C. Beuttenmuller, executive director of FFSP.
“Being able to graze on improved quality forages that perform well prevent them from having to supplement feed and other things in their operations,” Beuttenmuller said.
The new grass was developed and tested by four UF professors starting in 2005. They bred more than 50 varieties of grass and tested them for six years for persistence and nutritive value. The two new hybrids, 4F and 10, were released last spring.
Joao Vendramini, an associate professor and forage specialist at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona, helped develop the varieties.
He said the grass grows waist tall and thrives in warm weather.
Vendramini said the grass spreads by planting the cut stems, which is a longer process and more labor-intensive than growing by seeds.
The FFSP worked with the Florida Cattlemen’s Association to select a handful of producers to start growing the grass from north and south Florida.
Only a few producers are currently growing it because of its limited availability, Beuttenmuller said.
The group of producers will pay annual membership dues of $25 to FFSP. Producers will also pay a one-time fee to offset the costs of development.
Current producers will cut the grass varieties in July and pass along the stems to other producers who can plant it on their land and spread it around Florida.
[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 10/28/2014]
Cows graze at the UF Beef Teaching Unit on October 27, 2014. UF created two new grass varieties that will bring better nutritional value and a longer lifespan to cows.