Chloris gayana / Rhodesgrass – Katambora / Goats Fodder / Cattle Forage / Sheep Grazing / Haymaking!
Sowing Rate: 10kg per hectare.
Planting Time: September to March (Southern Hemisphere.)
Rhodes grass (Australia, United States, Africa); chloris, herbe de rhodes (French); rhodasgras (German); capim-de-rhodes (Portuguese); grama de rodas, pasto de rodas (Spanish); pasto rhodes (Peru); koro-korosan, banuko (Philippines); ya rot (Thailand); tucgiéân (Vietnam); zacate gordura; banuko; abu raseya; erigaru; ol’piripiri-andoi.
Uses / applications:
Chloris gayana (Rhodesgrass) is used in permanent pasture or as a short- to medium-term pasture ley to restore soil structure, improve organic matter levels, and reduce nematode numbers. Can also be under sown into maize. Makes good hay if cut at or just before very early flowering. Generally not suitable for silage . Provides fair standover roughage when mature, better than Cenchrus ciliaris and Panicum maximum due to its greater cold resistance and lower loss of dry leaves. Develops good ground cover and effectively controls erosion once established (needs regular defoliation to maintain cover). Also effectively suppresses woody regrowth provided trees and shrubs are not well established prior to planting the grass.
While preferring well-structured loams and clays of volcanic origin, Chloris gayana (Rhodesgrass) grows on most well drained soils, except very heavy clays, provided fertility is adequate. More tolerant of high than low pH, growing best in soils with pH between about 5.5 and 7.5, but will grow down to pH 4.5 and up to 10. Intolerant of high soil manganese.
Rainfall in its natural range varies from about 500-1,500 mm/yr. In cultivation, it is usually planted in areas with rainfall from 700-1,200 mm, but has been successful at lower annual averages. Chloris gayana (Rhodesgrass) does not thrive in areas with more than 1,800 mm rainfall. It is popular in irrigated pastures, particularly where irrigation water may be too saline for other species. Drought tolerance is less than that of Cenchrus ciliaris and Panicum maximum, but can still survive in areas with a 6-month dry season, by virtue of a root system that can extract water to a depth of more than 4 metres. Tolerates seasonal waterlogging, and up to 15 days of flooding.
Optimum growing temperatures, ranging from 20-37ºC, with extremes of 5º and 50ºC.
Although Chloris gayana (Rhodesgrass) can survive on infertile soil, it is very unproductive, and may eventually die out, particularly if grazed regularly.
Responds to phosphorus in poorer soils, and gives a linear yield and crude protein response of up to 300 kg/ha of nitrogen if other nutrients are adequately supplied. Split applications, each of 50-100 kg/ha N, are normally used when economically feasible.
Grasses: Cenchrus ciliaris, lower growing Panicum maximum cultivars (e.g. Petrie, Gatton), Setaria sphacelata.
Legumes: Centrosema pubescens , Clitoria ternatea , Desmodium uncinatum Neonotonia wightii , Lotononis bainesii , Macroptilium atropurpureum , Medicago sativa , Stylosanthes guianensis, Trifolium repens.
Dry matter production:
Chloris gayana (Rhodesgrass) – DM yields generally range from about (2-) 10-25 t/ha, depending on variety, soil fertility , environmental conditions, and cutting frequency. Yields in the second year may be double those of the establishment year, but this also depends on management and environmental conditions. While yields of 35-60 t/ha DM are reported, these are not the norm.
Chloris gayana (Rhodesgrass) can carry about 1-4 beasts/ha depending on pasture productivity. Annual liveweight gains of up to 160 kg/head and 850 kg/ha are achievable. Production declines without a vigorous legume or the use of fertiliser nitrogen.
Advantages of Chloris gayana (Rhodesgrass):
- Widely adapted
- Easily established
- Early nutritive value
- High salt tolerance
- Tolerant of heavy grazing
- Few pests or diseases of economic importance
- Some varieties can suppress nematodes (e.g. cv. Katambora)
- Good seed production.
Limitations of Chloris gayana (Rhodesgrass) :
- Short season of nutritive peak in many cultivars
- Fluffy seed difficult to sow
- Not adapted to acid, infertile soils
- Plants require high fertility to persist
- Low shade tolerance.