Elephant (nappier) grass (penisetum puperum)

This is a perennial grass which can grow to 4 – 5 m high if left undisturbed. Leaves range from hairy to smooth types. The grass is not suitable for grazing as it cannot withstand trampling by livestock. However it can be used for stall feeding and zero grazing when chopped into smaller sizes. It is also suitable for silage.

The grass is very high yielding, nutritious and palatable when young (at 100 – 150 – 200cm)napier grass

It prefers warm conditions and rainfall above 1000mm/yr. it can withstand long dry spells because of their roots.

The best soils are deep loams though can grow in many types. Top dress with nitrate fertilizers if the soils are poor. Also add nitrate fertilizers or farm yard manure after every cutting.

The grass is sensitive to weed competition therefore regular weeding is necessary. It can be established vegetatively through:

  1. Cuttings with 3 – 4 nodes placed at an angle
  2. Cuttings with 3 – 4 nodes buried completely in furrows
  3. Whole stem and leaves placed in furrows and covered
  4. Whole stems without leaves and covered in furrows.

The cost of planting as in (3) is the cheapest but in terms of dry matter (DM) production the last choice (4) has the more followed by 3, 2,1.


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