Red River Crab Grass

Scientific Name

Digitaria ciliaris (hairy crabgrass)

Short Description

'Red River' crabgrass is a high quality, high yielding summer annual forage used for grazing and haying.


'Red River' crabgrass was a selection released by the Noble Foundation in 1988.  'Red River' is a high yielding summer annual forage and is the first known crabgrass variety released.  'Red River' is a single plant selection found near the Red River region in southern Oklahoma.  'Red River's area of adaption extends from the subtropical areas of Florida and to the humid to semi arid southeastern to south-central USA.  This area encompasses part or all of the twenty-one most southeastern states from Nebraska, south and east to the Gulf and Atlantic coasts to similar climates worldwide.  Testing at the Noble Foundation showed 'Red River' yielded 25%  to 50% more forage than the native types over several years testing.  'Red River' has tested  to be 73% digestible.  Crude protein levels begin as high as 25-30% early in the season to 15-20% mid summer and 10% late in the season.

Suggested Planting Management for 'Red River' Crabgrass

Tilled and Planted in Spring

  1. Prepare the ground by discing and harrowing in spring. Firm soil to where a footprint leaves an impression 1/2".
  2. Using a drill or seeder with small seed box is best, but a grain does work, plant seed shallow when soil temperatures reach 50ºF in the spring. 
  3. When the grass begins to run apply nitrogen (50 to 100 lbs/acre).
  4. Graze when grass reaches 6 to 8 inches.

Broadcast in Small Grains

  1. Small grain forage such as rye, wheat, or triticale planted in the fall.
  2. Broadcast a mixture of 3 to 5 Pure Live Seed pounds of 'Red River' and fertilizer the following March through May. 
  3. Graze out the small grain pasture.
  4. Fertilize with nitrogen (50 to 100 lbs/acre) once the 'Red River' begins to form runners.
  5. Begin grazing once the grass reaches 6 to 8 inches in height.  Rotational grazing is best management to maximize quality and quantity.
  6. Apply additional nitrogen fertilizer as needed and if precipitation is adequate.
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