Tifton 9 is an improved variety of Pensacola bahiagrass bred cooperatively at Tifton, GA by the USDA-ARS and the University of Georgia Coastal Plain Experiment Station. Compared with common Pensacola bahiagrass, Tifton 9 has more vigorous seedlings, longer leaves, and is equally digestible. In the first 3-year replicated plot test it yielded 47% more forage than Pensacola bahiagrass. It has yielded at least 25% more forage than Pensacola bahiagrass in tests at other locations. In a 2-year replicated grazing trial, Tifton 9 provided 17% more grazing days and 25% more live weight gain per acre than Pensacola bahiagrass.
Tifton 9 will be well adapted wherever Pensacola bahiagrass is grown. Tifton 9 yields more forage than Pensacola bahiagrass from the same inputs. Its greater seedling vigor will facilitate quick establishment and permit the development of sod based rotations. Farmers report that turning under bahiagrass sod has significantly increases yields of peanuts, corn, and cotton. A two- or three-year rotation of Tifton 9 reduces soil-borne diseases and root knot nematode damage, and increases yield of vegetables.
Because Tifton 9 bahiagrass is a variable population and has no visible characteristics that can be used for its identification, it is necessary to depend on certification to preserve its identity. Tifton 9 has Plant Variety Protection under the Title V option. Seed of Tifton 9 can only be sold as a class of certified seed. Certified seed fields must be planted with foundation seed.
Foundation seed is available from the Georgia Seed Development Commission, 2420 South Milledge Avenue, Athens, GA 30605. Breeder seed of Tifton 9 will be maintained by USDA-ARS Crop Genetics and Breeding Research Unit, Coastal Plain Experiment Station, Tifton, GA 31793.
Bahiagrass seedlings are small and grow slowly. For good establishment in one year, weeds must be controlled by frequent mowing or grazing. Unfortunately, there are no selective herbicides to help. Plantings in newly cleared land will establish quicker than those in old cultivated fields because of fewer weeds. Grazing should begin when weeds such as crabgrass are young enough to be grazed down close to the bahiagrass seedlings.