Tifton 85,’ a high-yielding Bermuda Grass that was released to certified growers in 1992, has a darker green color, longer and wider leaves and larger stems than the ‘Coastal’ variety. Although additional research is needed to determine the northern limits of adaptability of ‘Tifton 85,’ it has been a prolific forage producer on the well drained, sandy soils of the Coastal Plain. Hay yields for ‘Tifton 85’ were superior in a very dry year (1993); with adequate moisture, this hybrid may grow more rapidly, suggesting that our previous small-plot yield data may be repeated under larger field production conditions.
Also, ‘Tifton 85’ may be the fastest producing, highest yielding Bermudagrass released to date by the Forage and Turf Unit, USDA, ARS, Tifton. ‘Tifton 85,’ like other Bermudagrass hybrids, requires water and adequate fertilizer to produce optimum yields of forage for hay or grazing. These observations do not reflect maximum yield potential of ‘Tifton 85,’ which could be greater with more evenly distributed rainfall and increased N fertilizer applications. ‘Tifton 85’ should be highly productive on sandy, well-drained soils. Additional research is needed to determine yield performance and stand persistence on heavier clay soils and in the cooler environment of the upper Coastal Plain and Piedmont. ‘Tifton 85’ sprigs are available from a number of certified growers in Georgia and other southern states.
‘Tifton 85’ quality may decrease rapidly as it matures after four to five weeks; therefore, producers should harvest within 3-to-5-week intervals, depending upon weather conditions. ‘Tifton 85’ has the potential to produce as much hay in three to four weeks as ‘Coastal’ produces in six weeks of growth. Although other hybrids were not established in 1993 for direct comparisons with ‘Tifton 85,’ the observed yield potential of ‘Tifton 85’ under adverse weather conditions of 1993 certainly underscores the great yield potential of this new grass for cattlemen and hay producers.