Guinea grass (panicum maximum)
Guinea grass (panicum maximum) is a perennial tufted grass with long creeping bases and deep roots which enable it survive long periods of drought. The stems have many nodes. It can grow to a height of 3m when mature. The grass can be stemmy and coarse under bad management.
The grass dies quickly if put under continuous grazing. But it is also highly palatable and very nutritious.
The grass is a poor seeder and establishes very slowly whenever seeds are used. Fast establishment is therefore through use of splits on small areas. It is tolerant to shades and drought but sensitive to frost and poorly drained soils. It is adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions.
The grass is suited to warm humid conditions and requires plenty of rain (at least 875mm). It responds well to fertilizer application.
In Kenya the grass is utilized in especially wet areas although the grass can survive in dry areas if under very good management.
Dry matter (DM) production is about 10 ton/ha/yr if harvesting is done at intervals of 8 – 10 weeks. The grass is a poor seeder. Seeding rate at 2.5kg/ha and seeds must be sown only on a well prepared seedbed in a depth of less than 7mm.