Smutgrass is an invasive, well-rooted perennial that has long been recognized as an aggressive weed throughout Florida and in the subtropical regions of the United States. Small smutgrass and giant smutgrass are the two predominant smutgrass varieties found in Florida. The native soil pH of Florida flatwoods is 4.5 to 5.0 which is lower than the level of soil pH recommended for optimum bahiagrass growth. Therefore, replacement series experiments were conducted in a greenhouse in 2010 and 2011 to compare the competitive ability of bahiagrass with each of the two varieties of smutgrass at three levels of soil pH (4.5, 5.5, and 6.5), two densities; 4 (low) and 8 (high) plants pot−1, and at five planting ratios of 100 ∶ 0, 75 ∶ 25, 50 ∶ 50, 25 ∶ 75, and 0 ∶ 100. Relative competitive ability and aggressivity of giant smutgrass was greater than bahiagrass across all pH levels and densities, whereas relative competitive ability and aggressivity of bahiagrass was greater than small smutgrass in all pH levels and densities, except at pH 6.5. At pH 5.5, biomass accumulation of giant smutgrass was at least 73% higher than bahiagrass, whereas small smutgrass biomass was at least 46% lower than bahiagrass at equal planting ratios of both low and high densities. Differential responses were observed on bahiagrass competitive ability with small and giant smutgrass. Amending soil pH is not a likely option to increase the growth and competitive ability of bahiagrass over giant smutgrass. However, for small smutgrass, it is likely to increase the aggressivity of bahiagrass in bahiagrass–small smutgrass mixture, unless the soil pH is raised above 5.5.
Nomenclature: Giant smutgrass, Sporobolus indicus (L.) R. Br. var. pyramidalis (P. Beauv.) Veldkamp.; small smutgrass, Sporobolus indicus (L.) R. Br. var. indicus; smutgrass, Sporobolus indicus (L.) R. Br. SPZIN, bahiagrass, Paspalum notatum Flueggé.