Digital image analysis (DIA) can potentially provide rapid, objective assessment of pasture canopy development. In pastures of ‘WW-B.Dahl’ Old World bluestem [Bothriochloa blad-hii (Retz) Blake], we compared the DIA programs ImageJ and Canopeo for ground cover estimates, their ability to estimate canopy functions, and their time savings for vegetation analysis relative to a manual method. The DIA procedure involved processing overhead canopy images into two color groupings corresponding to green ground cover and non-green (dead) cover plus bare ground for ground cover calculation. ImageJ analysis of ground cover agreed with two types of Canopeo applications (r2 values of 0.97 and 0.98). The prediction regression for percentage photosynthetically active radiation interception (PARI) using ImageJ, y = 0.94x − 2.91 (r2 = 0.72), was not different from Canopeo. Predicted values of leaf area index (LAI) and biomass increased exponentially with ground cover, likely owing to overlapping leaf area in older canopies. Two-dimen-sional ground cover had limited power of estimating LAI and biomass when ground cover exceeded 60%, LAI exceeded 1.8, and biomass exceeded 1500 kg DM ha–1. The time required for estimating PARI, LAI, and green biomass using ground cover from both DIA methods was reduced to 3.6% of manual methods. The use of DIA with ImageJ provided measurements of ground cover that are simple and conducive to large batch analyses. Regressions of ground cover were deemed useful for rapid estimations of PARI and LAI, but of lesser value for biomass, especially when canopies developed stems and seedheads.