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| Last Updated:: 09/01/2020

Fodder Crops of Kerala


Common Name: Guinea Grass

Scientific Name: Panicum maximum

Description: Guinea grass is a popular fodder grass of the tropics suited to the agro-climatic conditions of Kerala. It can be profitably grown as a component of agro-forestry systems and comes up well under coconut and other trees. As an excellent fodder it is much valued for its high productivity, palatability and good persistence. It is a perennial bunch grass; 0.5 to 4.5 m high. The stem is stout to slender, erect or ascending; glabrous or hairy. Leaves are 10 to 100 cm long and 3.5 cm wide. Panicle loose and much branched, the lower most branches being in a distinct whorl. The small seeds are enclosed in smooth glumes. The seeds shatter. The root system is deep, dense and fibrous.  Guinea grass thrives well in warm moist climate. It can grow from sea level to 1800 m altitude.It is frost sensitive. It thrives between a temperature range of 15 to 38 °C.Under Kerala conditions, the best season of planting is with the onset of southwest monsoon during May-June. As an irrigated crop planting can be done at any time of the year.


Common Name: Gamba Grass

Scientific Name: Andropogon gayanus

Description: Gamba grass is also known as 'Sadabahar'. It is a tufted perennial grass and the stems are usually 1-2 m high. The inflorescence is a large spathe or panicle. The grass tolerates drought and suits areas where dry season lasts for five months or so. In areas with less severe drought it can remain green throughout the year. It tolerates deep seasonal flooding. The grass avoids heavy soil, is resistant to grass fires and develops new leaves and shoots a few days after buming. The crop comes up well in partial shade and is a good intercrop in coconut gardens. The crop can be propagated through rooted slips or seeds lightly drilled.


Common Name: Set Aria Grass

Scientific Name: Setaria anceps

Description: Setaria anceps is also called as Golden Timothy. The grass comes up well in the medium rainfall areas in the tropics and subtropics. The grass is a tufted perennial with erect stems and grows 1-2 m in height. Leaves are about 40 cm long, 8-20 cm wide and green to dark green in colour. Panicle is dense, cylindrical, about 10 to 30 cm long and orange to purplish in colour. Spikelets are two in number, the lower one is the male or sterile and the upper one is bisexual. Usually the grass grows under an annual rainfall of over 750 mm. It grows vigorously under high annual rainfall ranging from 1000 to 1500 mm. It can also survive long, hot and dry seasons. The grass can be used as green cut fodder, silage and hay. The grass gives satisfactory silage with molasses. The grass can be used as green cut fodder, silage and hay. The grass gives satisfactory silage with molasses.


Common Name: Hybrid Napier

Scientific Name: Pennisetum typhoides x P. Purpureum

Description: Napier grass is also called as elephant grass due to its tallness and vigorous vegetative growth. The plants tiller freely and a single clump may produce 50 tillers under favourable climatic and soil conditions. Unfortunately, the grass is coarse-textured, the leaf blade and sheaths hairy, leaf margins sharply toothed and stems less juicy and fibrous. Compared to Napier grass, Hybrid Napier produces more tillers and numerous leaves. It grows faster and produces more herbage but the stems are hard and the plants less persistent. Pusa Giant Napier has larger leaves, softer and less persistent hairs on leaf blades and sheaths and less sharp leaf edges. The stems are also less fibrous than Napier. The tillers are more numerous and grow faster. The grass grows throughout the year in the tropics. The optimum temperature is about 31°c. Light showers alternated with bright sunshine are very congenial to the crop.


Common Name: Para Grass

Scientific Name: Brachiaria mutica

Description: This grass is also known as buffalo grass, water grass, Angola grass, Mauritius grass etc. The crop responds well to sewage irrigation and is usually grown near large sewage disposal firms. It is a coarse, trailing perennial that spreads by surface runners which root profusely at the nodes with flowering stems I to 2 m high. The culms are erect, leafy, hollow, succulent and glabrous with hairy nodes. The leaf blades are dark green in colour, 25 to 30 cm long and 1 to 2 cm broad. Inflorescence is a panicle. Flowering is hastened in shorter photoperiods.  The grass prefers hot and humid climate of the tropics and subtropics with high annual rainfall ranging between 1000 and 1500 mm. It can withstand short term flooding and water logging but cannot be grown in dry land in arid and semi-arid regions. It is sensitive to cold. It makes no growth during winter months. Seed yields are generally low. It is observed that shorter or longer day lengths hasten flowering. The correct stage of harvest is soon after the end of anthesis. Germination is affected if the seed is harvested late. There is no post-harvest dormancy for seed.


Common Name: Congosignal Grass

Scientific Name: Brachiaria ruziziensis

Description: Congosignal can be grown as a sole crop in open areas and as an intercrop in coconut gardens. It is a creeping perennial with dense foliage and therefore can be used for soil conservation purpose as strip crop. It grows to a height of about 50 to 100 cm and produces 30 to 40 tillers on an average. It prefers a warm moist tropical climate. It can be grown in almost all types of soils but cannot tolerate waterlogging. It also tolerates shade. So it is recommended as an intercrop in coconut garden. It can be grown either as a pure crop or mixed with other grasses and legumes. The crop is generally planted in May-June and September-October with the onset of rains.


Source: Kerala Agricultural Univesity