The Grass Guide: Large Crabgrass

Crabgrass leaves can be a bright green color.

Photo: Courtesy University of Arkansas Forage ID Website/UK

Name: Large Crabgrass (Digitaria sangunalis)
Life cycle: Summer annual
Native to: Southern Africa
Uses: Pasture and hay
Identification: Flat leaf covered in short hairs on both sides with a broad, flat stem

Large crabgrass grows well on sandy and clay-loam soils and can also tolerate both wet and drought conditions. Large crabgrass is very palatable and has a high nutrient content compared with other summer annuals, making it useful for grazing in the south. It is considered a weed farther north due to its short growing season.

Although crabgrass can be useful in pastures as a summer annual, it only grows during warmer weather and leaves bare areas in late fall, winter, and early spring. When planted in pure stands, livestock producers commonly plant annual ryegrass for grazing during the cooler months of the year.

Information provided by AnnMarie Kadnar, graduate student; Krista Lea, MS, coordinator of the University of Kentucky (UK) Horse Pasture Evaluation Program; and Ray Smith, PhD, professor and forage extension specialist. All three are part of UK’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

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