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Yellowing in Bahiagrass Pastures

Yellowing in bahiagrass hay field

Yellowing in bahiagrass hay field

Yellowing in bahiagrass pastures may be caused by micro-nutrient deficiencies associated with a high pH ( greater than 7.0) or soil borne insects associated with a low pH (less than 5.0).  The target pH for bahiagrass pastures is 5.5 with an acceptable range of 5.0-6.5.

A soil pH of less than 5.0 has been associated with increased mole cricket damage.  Mole crickets are insects which burrow and tunnel in the soil, damaging grass roots.  Yellowing from mole cricket damage usually begins with patches in the pasture.  The affected areas turn brown and eventually die.  Mole crickets do most of their damage late August to early October.  Mole crickets have a biological control – the Larra wasp.  These parasitoids are attracted to shrubby false buttonweed and partridge pea.

Another cause of bahiagrass yellowing is iron deficiency associated with a high pH (greater than 7.0).  Iron is less available for uptake by the grass at a pH greater than 7.0.  A foliar application of iron sulfate should be applied if the yellowing is caused by an iron deficiency.  Also, ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate fertilizers will lower the soil pH.

The soil pH plays a vital role in the health of bahiagrass pastures.  A soil test should be the first step when yellowing is observed in a pasture.  Also, scouting for insect damage such as mole crickets is important.  Changing the soil pH is a slow process, so it is critical and cost efficient to test for pH at least once a year.

EDIS publication:  The Impacts of Soil Acidity on Bahiagrass Pasture Performance


Author: Jennifer Bearden – heady@ufl.edu

Agriculture Agent
Okaloosa County

Jennifer Bearden

Permanent link to this article: http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/10/04/yellowing-in-bahiagrass-pastures/