Breakeven Cost of Irrigating Bermudagrass, Tall Fescue, and Orchardgrass Hay Production in Tennessee
Zhou, X., C. Boyer, J. A. Larson, and B. G. Leib.  2014.  Agronomy Journal, 106: 6: 2227-2234.

Little is known about the economic feasibility of irrigating cool- and warm-season grass species for hay production in the southeastern United States. The objective of this study was to determine the breakeven cost of irrigating bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.], tall fescue [Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort., formerly Festuca arundinacea Schreb.], and orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) for hay production in Tennessee. Yield response to three irrigation levels during three harvest periods was estimated for the three grass species using data obtained from a 5-yr study in a mixed model analysis. Partial budgets were developed to calculate annual net returns for irrigated and unirrigated hay production and to calculate the annual breakeven cost of irrigation for each grass. Orchardgrass and tall fescue hay yields negatively responded to irrigation during the spring harvest but positively responded for the summer and fall harvests. Similarly, bermudagrass hay yield positively responded to irrigation during the summer and fall harvests. For all three grass species, hay yield was greatest at the highest irrigation level (3.05 cm wk–1) during the fall harvest only. The breakeven costs of irrigation for hay production ranged between US$59 and US$87 ha–1 for orchardgrass, between US$66 and US$136 ha–1 for tall fescue, and between US$222 and US$335 ha–1 for bermudagrass. Results suggest that a producer would be more likely to increase net returns by irrigating bermudagrass than irrigating cool-season grass species in the southeastern United States.