Chloris gayana Kunth
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Rhodesgrass is one of the best grasses for rotation grasslands in tropical and
subtropical areas, useful for establishment of pasture leys. It is suitable
for silage and hay, as well as for fodder. Liked by all kinds of stock, it may
cause skin troubles in horses. Its ability to establish rapidly makes it
valuable for soil conservation (Reed, 1976). Persistent and drought resistant
when well managed, but ephemeral if poorly managed (Gohl, 1981).
No data available.
After Gohl, 1981
Perennial or annual grass, variable in habit, 0.61.6 m tall, forming tufts,
sometimes rhizomatous and spreading by rooting stolons; shoot-bases, and
leaf-sheaths compressed; leaf-blades flat or folded, 12.545 cm long, 1020 mm
wide; inflorescence of 615 one-sided spikes, clustered at end of stem; spikes
510 cm long with numerous spikelets, green, turning to copper-brown at
maturity; spikelets 34 mm long with 34 florets; glumes unequal, the lower 3
mm long and fertile, with an awn up to 5 mm long; the upper florets much
smaller and usually sterile. Seeds 3.34.4 million per kilogram (Reed, 1976).
Reported from the African Center of Diversity, Rhodesgrass, or cvs thereof, is
reported to tolerate alkali, drought, frost, high pH, low pH, nematodes, poor
soil, salt, sand, slope, and weeds (Duke, 1978). The plant may be more
sensitive to Lithium than beet, but it is relatively tolerant. Numerous
ecotypes or natural strains with different agricultural value occur in Kenya.
'Nzoia' strain originated near the river of that name and is in commercial seed
production; it is persistent under intensive grazing and of high pasture value.
'Giant Rhodes' (Mpwapwa Rhodes), is very frost-tender; 'Katambora Rhodes' is
moderately frost-resistant. Stoloniferous forms usually compete with weeds
better than tufted forms. Most seed on commercial markets is from cultivars of
Australian origin.(Reed, 1976). (2n = 20, 30, 40)
Native to South and East Africa, in areas from 660 to over 2160 m altitudes.
It was introduced into India from South Africa, and later into North America
(Gulf Coast and California under irrigation), Australia (especially in
Queensland), South America (Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay), North Africa, and
Ranging from Cool Temperate Wet to Steppe through Tropical Desert to Wet Forest
Life Zones, Rhodesgrass is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 3.1 to
40.3 dm (mean of 30 cases = 12.6) annual tamperatures of 8.4 to 27.8°C (mean
of 30 cases = 20.3), and pH of 4.5 to 8.4 (mean of 28 cases = 6.4) (Duke, 1978,
1979). Rhodesgrass is suitable and adaptable to tropical and subtropical
summer-rainfall areas with rainfall of 7.512.5 dm annually, and a moderately
long dry season. It does not thrive in areas with more than 18 dm rainfall.
Thrives on soda-rich alkaline soils too alkaline for sugarcane. Adaptable to
sands and alkaline clays, but grows best on fertile soils of medium texture.
It is moderately frost-resistant, but unsuited to areas with more than an
occasional heavy frost. Often forms almost pure stands (Reed, 1976).
Plants seed freely but also spread by stolons. However, it is easily
controlled and seldom becomes a troublesome weed. Good land preparation is
necessary to insure stands, maximum yields and minimum weed competition. Crop
may be propagated by seeding, at rate of 89 kg/ha broadcast or 23 kg/ha sown
in drills 5070 cm apart. Drilled seed should be mixed with a carrier, such as
rice hulls or sawdust, or mixed with fertilizer and sown with combine drill.
Row spacing should be such as to permit rapid formation of a complete ground
cover. Also propagated by rootstocks, between 25,000 and 37,500 stools/ha
required, planted 4560 cm each way. May be planted anytime during year, but
February gives good results in the Puniab. Elsewhere, practice is to plant at
onset of fall wet season to insure good survival, rapid growth and complete
ground cover. Rhodesgrass may be planted with various legumes or other
grasses. Combines well with lucerne at rate of 0.51.5 kg/ha; with Phasey bean
(Macroptylium lathyroides) at rate of 12 kg/ha, or Bur Medick
(Medicago tribuloides), or may be sown between rows of pigeon pea or
Leucaena. Sometimes mixed with the more slow-growing Paspalum
dilatatum to give rapid growth. Successfully established by drilling or
broadcasting between rows of corn, cotton, or sorghum. In Queensland,
Sudan-grass and white panicum are also used as companion crops for summer
sowing. Light sowing of oats or wheat provides protection for winter sowing.
It also does well under irrigation, as in California and Israel, where it grows
on soils unsuitable for other grasses (Reed, 1976).
New stands should be allowed to flower and set seed before being grazed or
mown. Rotational grazing is desirable, as continuous heavy grazing permits
rapid invasion of weeds, especially on sandy soils. Hay should be cut at early
flowering stage, with 78 cuttings per year (Reed, l976).
Crops yield 11.517.2 MT/ha DM annually, with even higher yields reported when
planted in 25 cm rows and fertilized with 150 kg N/ha. Seed yields range from
65 to 650 kg/ha (Reed, 1976). In Saudi Arabia, Rhodesgrass gave the best
yields (12.3 MT/ha) of ten grasses studied, with more uniform establishment and
best winter growth (Farnsworth, 1977). Principle value of this warm-season
pasture and hay grass lies in the ease and low cost of establishment and
management, tolerance to wide range of soil types, moisture, and pH, and its
ability to provide a sustained production of palatable forage throughout
recurrent dry seasons or in the drier areas in the Tropics. Widely used for
these purposes in the regions mentioned above (Reed, 1976).
According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b), annual productivity ranges from
2 to 20 MT/ha; 7 MT in Egypt, 26 MT in South Africa, 612 in Australla, 38 in
Zambia, 412 in Fiji, 1620 in Thailand, 819 in Cula. In Israel, the plant is
sometimes grown with sewage irrigation, fertilized plots averaging 12 MT/ha DM
from 5 cuts (Vaisman et al, 1980). It is perhaps the most suitable of all
tropical cultivated grasses for saline soils (Bogdan, 1968).
Following fungi have been reported on Rhodesgrass: Aspergillus flavus,
Cerebella andropogonis, Cladosporium sp., Claviceps sp.,
Cochliobolus heterostrophus, Fusarium equiseti, F. oxysporum, Helminthosporium
carbonum, Himaydis sp., Nigrospora sphaerica, Puccinia chlorides,
Pythium aphanidermatum, Tolyposporium chlorides, Trichoderma sp.,
and Uromyces kenyensis. Striga lutea and S. asiatica
parasitize this plant. Nematodes isolated from Rhodesgrass include:
Helicotylenchus dihystera, H. nannus, H. pseudorobustus, H. cavenessi,
Hemicycliphora truncata, Hoplolaimus pararobustus, Meliodognye acronea, M.
incognita acrita, M. javanica, Pratylenchus brachyurus, Rotylenchulus
reniformis, Scutellonema clathricaudatum, Trichodorus minor, Tylenchus
spiralis, Xiphinema elongatum, X. ifacolum. Insect pests include Fall
armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) and caterpillars of Mocis
latipes, both easily controlled by insecticides.
| || ||As % of dry matter || ||DM ||CP ||CF ||Ash ||EE ||NFE
|Fresh pasture, Zimbabwe ||28.2 ||8.9 ||37.9 ||6.0 ||1.0 ||46.2|
|Fresh, first cutting, early bloom Tanzania ||20.0 ||9.5 ||32.5 ||11.8 ||1.7 ||44.5|
|Fresh, second cutting, early bloom Tanzania ||25.0 ||7.1 ||38.7 ||10.2 ||1.0 ||43.0|
|Fresh, mature, Hawaii ||28.8 ||8.0 ||37.2 ||13.1 ||2.0 ||39.7|
|Hay, dry season, 6 weeks, 55 cm, Thailand ||84.1 ||9.9 ||33.4 || 8.9 ||27.0 ||45.1|
|Hay, dry season, 8 weeks, 60 cm, Thailand ||91.5 ||9.0 ||35.6 ||8.3 ||2.5 ||44.6|
|Hay, dry season, 10 weeks, 95 cm, Thailand ||88.1 ||6.8 ||36.5 ||8.6 ||2.4 ||45.7|
|Hay, dry season, 12 weeks, 95 cm, Thailand ||90.1 ||4.1 ||38.2 ||6.7 ||1.8 ||49.2|
|Hay, first cutting, Tanzania ||87.0 ||3.7 ||43.5 ||8.7 ||1.3 ||42.8|
|Hay, second cutting, Tanzania ||87.0 ||3.7 ||42.0 ||8.7 ||1.2 ||44.4|
|Silage, Nigeria ||23.6 ||4.5 ||37.2 ||13.4 ||2.2 ||42.7|| || || Digestibility (%)
| ||Animal ||CP ||CF ||EE ||NFE ||ME|
|Pasture ||Cattle ||62.3 ||75.2 ||36.0 ||67.4 ||2.42|
|First cutting ||Sheep ||69.5 ||83.7 ||47.0 ||77.8 ||2.58|
|Second cutting ||Sheep ||62.0 ||74.4 ||30.0 ||63.3 ||2.24|
|Mature ||Oxen ||58.0 ||70.0 ||50.0 ||60.0 ||2.08|
|Hay, 6 weeks ||Sheep ||55.0 ||60.0 ||45.0 ||56.0 ||2.81|
|Hay, 8 weeks ||Sheep ||54.0 ||62.0 ||54.0 ||56.0 ||2.01|
|Hay, 10 weeks ||Sheep ||43.0 ||61.0 ||58.0 ||55.0 ||1.95|
|Hay, 12 weeks ||Sheep ||17.0 ||51.0 ||36.0 ||52.0 ||1.71|
|Hay, first cutting ||Sheep ||31.4 ||56.6 ||46.0 ||50.9 ||1.77|
|Hay, second cutting ||Sheep ||32.4 ||55.5 ||42.0 ||46.6 ||1.68|
|Silage ||Cattle ||8.9 ||72.0 ||22.7 ||52.7 ||1.83|
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Bogdan, A.V. 1969. Rhodes grass. Commonwealth Bureau of Pastures and Field
Crops, Hurley, Berkshire, England, Herbage Abstracts 39(1):113.
- Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 161. In: ASA Special
Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc. Agron.
- Duke, J.A. 1979. Ecosystematic data on economic plants. Quart. J. Crude Drug
- Duke, J.A. 1981b. The gene revolution. Paper 1. p. 89150. In: Office of
Technology Assessment, Background papers for innovative biological technologies
for lesser developed countries. USGPO. Washington.
- Farnsworth, J. 1977. A comparison of tropical grasses grown on a reclaimed clay
loam soil at Hofuf, Saudi Arabia. Pub. Joint Ag R & D Proj., Univ. Coll.
Wales and Min. Agr. & Water. Saudi Arabia No. 77.
- Gohl, B. 1981. Tropical feeds. Feed information summaries and nutritive values.
FAO Animal Production and Health Series 12. FAO, Rome.
- Reed, C.F. 1976. Information summaries on 1000 economic plants. Typescripts
submitted to the USDA.
- Vaisman, I., Kipnis, T., Shalhevet, I., Feigin, A., Sharabani, N., and
Bnei-Moshe, S. 1980. Dry matter production of rhodes grass grown on sand dunes
and irrigated with secondary sewage effluents. Herbage Abstracts 51:2165.
Last update Tuesday, December 30, 1997