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  1. #1
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    Default Alternatives Techniques for Sprigging Coastal Bermuda

    In my area, there are several people that provide sprigging services via a sprigger to plant coastal bermuda sprigs. Is anyone aware of any other alternatives to sprig coastal sprigs without using a sprigger. The reason I ask is I had an individual tell me one could use a manure spreader to do such. I thought I would check with the folks at TBN to see if anyone has heard of any other alternatives. I have around 10-12 acres I would like to improve the pasture on, but many spriggers seem to want at least 20-25 acre minimums.

  2. #2
    Gold Member RWolf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternatives Techniques for Sprigging Coastal Bermuda

    I'm not well versed on sprigging but if you're only improving pasture for your livestock this is what I did. At first I was having some problems getting pasture seed (turns out the right hand didn't know that several sacks of seed were in the back stock room at the local TSC). I had contacted the manufacturer directly to try and get some seed. They had asked if I was sprigging, drilling or broadcasting. I told them that I was broadcasting and got the recommended amount. But I told them the problems I had in the years past and that this year I was going to broadcast and pull a drag harrow behind. That reduced the amount of seed I needed by more than half. I also said I was just improving my pasture and he agreed that was a good choice and it also reduced my cost.

    Benifits I can see is lower cost, breaks up just the topsoil without disturbing existing pasture much, spreading existing manure and areating the soil a bit.

    Good luck.
    2008 5103, FEL, 6ft. HD Box Blade, 6ft. Rotory cutter. And many more to come.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Alternatives Techniques for Sprigging Coastal Bermuda

    If you disc it to powder, spread the spriggs or tops, disc them in and get rain soon after...you'll likely get a good stand. I've got friends that have done it both ways using Coastal and Jiggs. I had one of mine sprigged with Tifton 85 it's a lot harder to start and usually has to be sprigged. However, I've had some sprout in my paddocks where we feed the hay, so I guess it might work with Tifton as well.

  4. #4
    Super Star Member EddieWalker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternatives Techniques for Sprigging Coastal Bermuda

    My neighbor has spriged his pastures three times in Bermuda. The first guy didn't get good results. It was also the first year of the drought, and it's doubtful that anybody could have done better.

    The next year, he disked the ground again and hired a different guy to sprig it. The same thing happened, but this time it was the second year of the drought.

    Both times the grass grew and I thought it looked pretty good. Especially considering we were gettting a quarter of our normal amount of rain!!!! Even with so little water, the bermuda took root and started to grow. He said it was too patchy and that both guys didn't do the job that he wanted them to do.

    The third year, he disked it all in again, had it spriged by a third guy and had record amounts of rain. It was the third wettest year in recorded history for our area. To me, the bermuda looked the same as the other two years, but he says different. He cut it last year for hay and was very pleased with how much hay he got. It's still patchy in areas, so until it gets thicker, he's not going to run any cattle on it.

    From watching all this happen three times, they all did it pretty much the same way, but with different looking machines. They were all trailers where the guys stood on the trailer and loaded the machine with bails of hay. I was told that it was freshly cut the day before and baled right away for sprigging. They would drive over the disked soul, feeding the machine with the hay, and the machine would spray it out the back to cover the field. Then the guy who works for my neighbor would drive over the hay with a drag tyle of thing that had a roller at the end of it, and sort of push the hay into the soil. Or at least most of it.

    For what was involved, I don't see why just throughing it out wouldn't work either. If you had access to the sprigs, which to my understanding are just fresh cut bermuda hay, and they drag it into the ground, you could do this by yourself.

    I just buy bermuda seed for my fields. I'm not feeding cattle or growing hay, it's just grass to me that looks nice. For spring/summer plantings, I get hulled seed so that it germinates faster. The unhulled seed needs longer time in the ground for the hull to rot off and release the seed.

    When buying seed, be sure to compare the actual percentage of seed in the sack. Some sacks have 50 to 75% filler, so if you buy a 50pound sack, you are actually gettting 25 pounds of seed or less. I buy 100% seed from my feed store, and his prices is the same as the 50% sacks of seed from other sources like Lowes and Home Depot.

    Eddie

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Alternatives Techniques for Sprigging Coastal Bermuda

    Interesting information Eddie. I bought haygrazer seed this year ( sorghrum sudangrass ). I was thinking about getting the place sprigged but didn't know all that is involved. Do you know which part of the plant can be sprgged. Is it a part of a stem or could it be a leaf as well. With this info I might try this myself on a small patch once I can get my hands on fresh cut coastal.

  6. #6
    Veteran Member jimg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternatives Techniques for Sprigging Coastal Bermuda

    Sprigs are nothing more than clippings. When they come in contact w/ soil theyll eventually root if given enough moisture. The alternative to sprigging is seed (which is very expensive).

  7. #7
    Super Star Member EddieWalker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternatives Techniques for Sprigging Coastal Bermuda

    Jim answered it better then I could. All I know for sure was that my neighbor made a big deal on how fresh the sprigs were cut. That was very important.

    I've thought about getting my soil ready then going over to his place and offering to cut his field for him. Then use my landscape rake to drag all the cuttings into a pile and haul them over to my place to see if I could sprig them myself.

    Don't know if I'll do it or not, but it's one of those crazy things that I work around in my brain while moving dirt from one place to another.

    Eddie

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Alternatives Techniques for Sprigging Coastal Bermuda

    The sprigs are the stems or runners with joints. Rooting takes place at the joints.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Alternatives Techniques for Sprigging Coastal Bermuda

    Quote Originally Posted by jimg
    Sprigs are nothing more than clippings. When they come in contact w/ soil theyll eventually root if given enough moisture. The alternative to sprigging is seed (which is very expensive).
    How are the clippings done? Sickle bar, bushog, flail? At what height do you cut?
    larry

  10. #10
    Gold Member redlevel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternatives Techniques for Sprigging Coastal Bermuda

    Let an old Georgia boy tell y'all how it's done.

    First of all, unless something has happened in the last three or four years I'm not aware of, all that Bermuda you plant from seed is eventually going to revert back to regular Common Bermuda. That's not necessarily bad, because common makes a very dense sod, is more drought resistant than the hybrids, and cows love the forage and the hay. It doesn't look like it when it is growing, but if you have a good stand, fertilize it well, it will produce a lot more hay than you think. It just won't produce nearly as much as any of the hybrids, though. I just wouldn't pay the money for the fancy-named seed varieties, because in a few years, common Bermuda is what you're going to have. I imagine that is what Eddie Walker is talking about planting hulled and unhulled seed. Planting any kind of seeded bermuda is going to be much, much cheaper than sprigging, if the sprigging is done correctly.

    Eddie, the process you have described isn't actually sprigging, although I'm sure that is what the people who were planting it called it. In the first place, they were planting tops, not sprigs. Bermuda tops are the runners, or rhizomes that grow and run on top of the ground. They will develop roots at the joints, or nodes, on the runners. This is an accepted way to plant Bermuda, but it isn't nearly as good as actual sprigging. It sounds like what they were doing was spreading the tops with a manure spreader, then coming along with a culti-packer to try to get some soil contact and actually get some of the tops under ground.

    Specialized Planters

    The link shows a picture of the two specialized pieces of equipment needed to be big-time in the Bermuda sprigging business. By the way, sprigs are the underground part of the Bermuda plant, as opposed to the runners, or rhizomes that grow on top of the ground. One machine harvests the underground sprigs, and the other machine actually plants the material. When I had a 10 acre field sprigged with Russell Bermuda, (a hybrid by Auburn University and LSU) there was a lot more material under the surface than you could see above the ground. The rule of thumb is to plant at least twenty bushels of sprigs per acre. The more material you put out, the faster you will get coverage. We had a very good cover by the third year.

    There are several ways to plant hybrids. The process Eddie described is probably the way most is planted, with varying success rates. I would guess that the land owner probably did as much good by discing after the first planting as actually replanting the field. Once the stuff starts growing, everything you do to it seems to make it spread. Especially with common bermuda, the only way to get rid of it is with chemicals. I bet there isn't a cultivated row-crop field in South Georgia that doesn't have two or three patches of common bermuda scattered about. Every time you plow, you drag some sprigs to a different place and they take root.

    Another way to plant is to use an old vegetable transplanter. This would work well on small acreages. If the field you were getting the sprigs from is fairly close, you can chisel it up with a chisel plow, load the material on a truck or wagon with pitchforks, and haul it to the field each day and plant what you can in one day. Whether planting tops or dug material, it needs to be done within 24 hours of the time it is harvested. It doesn't need to go through a heat on the truck or wagon.

    If you are going to plant tops, or freshly harvested hay, you want it to be very mature. I would rather come behind the mower and load it on to a pickup or wagon with pitchforks than to bale it. If you bale it, you better get it out of the bale quickly, or you will have a fire.

    The very best way to plant, of course, is to have it done by someone with the specialized equipment shown.

    Here is some good information from the Missouri Extension. Any of the universities should have excellent information. What I have told you is from personal experience. I noticed they give as one of the major reasons for failure to establish a stand; "planting tops rather than sprigs."

    G4620 Bermudagrass, MU Extension

    Planting
    Bermudagrass is commonly propagated by planting plant parts as rhizomes or sprigs (underground storage roots), stolons (above-ground runners), or tops (mature stems).Only common, Giant, and NK37 can be planted by seed. Sprigs or rhizomes are planted in late winter to early spring. Stolons and tops are planted in the late spring through early fall as moisture for "rooting" is prevalent. Stolons and tops are subject to desiccation or rapid drying in dry soils.

    The entire rhizome or "sprig" is planted in a furrow immediately behind an opening device, covered, and rolled in a single operation. The depth of planting is determined by the availability of moisture and the texture of the soil. Placed too deep, the new growth may die. Placed too shallow, the sprig may dry out without irrigation. Under dryland conditions, 2 to 2 1 /2 inches deep is generally adequate. Under irrigation, plant at a depth of 1 1 /2 to 2 inches with occasional sprigs showing above ground. The "ideal" sprig is 5 to 6 inches long, planted with one end 2 inches deep and the other end at the soil surface.

    If the soil is dry, water should be applied immediately after planting to prevent desiccation of sprigs. If the sprigs are planted in moist soil, irrigation may not be necessary or may be applied as needed.

    Use fresh sprigs from a vigorous coastal field or a certified grower. Sprigs should be thick, tan to amber-colored, and crisp. After digging, it is important to keep sprigs moist and cool and to plant as soon as possible. Exposure of sprigs to the sun and wind after digging will increase desiccation and rapidly reduce their viability. If sprigs have been dug for more than 24 hours, they should be soaked in water for 12 to 15 hours before planting.

    Table 2. Relationship of Exposure Time to Percentage of Sprigs Alive at Planting.
    Exposure Time % Sprigs Alive Exposure Time at Planting
    No exposure 100
    2 Hours, 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. 94
    4 Hours, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. 72
    2 Hours, 12 noon - 2 p.m. 30
    4 Hours, 12 noon - 4 p.m. 3
    8 Hours, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    (shaded and moist) 100
    Bermudagrass can be sprigged at many different rates. The faster a stand is desired, the more sprigs should be planted. The closer the spacing, the faster the sprigs will completely cover the area. The following table can help determine sprigging rates to use:

    Table 3. Sprigging Rates.

    Bushels/Acre Square feet for one sprig
    5 8.7
    10 4.3
    20 2.1
    30 1.5
    40 1.1
    50 0.9
    Weed control is important to reduce competition for moisture, plant nutrients, and light. Weeds can be controlled either by mowing or through the use of herbicides. There are only three materials currently labeled for use in establishing new fields. Diuron (Karmex, Diuron, or Drexel Diuron are some product trade names) can be applied immediately after planting but before new growth emerges. For the herbicide to work properly, it should be "watered in" either by rainfall or irrigation. Diuron kills broadleaf weeds and some grasses before they emerge. The other herbicides are Banvel and 2,4-D, which are applied after weeds germinate. These products are subject to some restrictions in areas where cotton or other broadleaf crops are grown. Refer to the label for complete rate and timing instructions before using any pesticide.

    Under dryland conditions, plant during the period when rainfall is most likely to occur, or shortly after a rain while the soil moisture is adequate.

    Most failures in establishing hybrid bermudagrass are due to:

    Poorly prepared seed bed.
    Inadequate moisture at planting.
    Using desiccated or dried sprigs.
    Planting too few sprigs.
    Covering sprigs too deep.
    Not firming the soil around sprigs.
    Severe weed competition.
    Severe grazing before plants are established.
    Planting Tops Rather Than Sprigs

    Planting tops is somewhat different from planting sprigs in establishing bermudagrass. Sprigs are underground roots that are dug and planted. Tops are above-ground, green, mature stems. Tops, unlike sprigs, must develop roots at the nodes to become a plant. For a top (stem or runner) to root, it must be mature, about 6 weeks old, and 18 to 24 inches long, and it must have 6 or more nodes.

    Planting tops allows producers to plant throughout the growing season as long as soil moisture is sufficient. Tops have been planted from late April through September. Fall-planted tops must have enough time to form roots and become well established before frost, or they will die during the winter. Tops planted in the late spring or early summer have the best chance to survive.

    Planting tops has also allowed producers to establish a nursery and transplant runners to larger fields as they mature. This practice can decrease the cost of paying for complete sprigging and can be done by the producer.

    The new Tifton 85 and Jiggs are easier to root by tops than other hybrid grasses.
    The following suggestions will increase the chances of success:

    Plant 5 to 7 bales per acre.
    Cut the tops with a sickle mower, bale immediately, and plant as soon as possible before the bale becomes hot enough to kill the grass. With small plantings, "pitching" the newly cut grass on a trailer and spreading is adequate.
    Scatter and disk tops into moist soil before they wilt. Tops can die within minutes.
    Pack the soil immediately(using a roller) around new runners to prevent excessive moisture loss and ensure good soil contact.
    Last edited by redlevel; 06-02-2008 at 07:03 PM.

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