History and economic importance. Rhodesgrass (Chloris gayana Kunth.), family Gramineae, is a very useful, fast-growing summer forage. Its native land is South Africa, and it is commonly cultivated in the USA, Australia, Hawaii, Uganda, and other countries of both the tropical and temperate zones. Once sown it can provide forage for 7-10 years. Under our ecological conditions, it can promise reasonable forage return for three or four years. There are both annual and perennial types.
Climate and soil. Rhodesgrass thrives in a warm and humid climate, and can be planted throughout Pakistan except in the colder areas. It is fairly drought-resistant. Sandy loam ‘to clay loam soils are the most suitable. Land preparation and manuring. A good seedbed is prepared by giving two or three ploughings, each followed by planking.
The land should be well-levelled and almost free from weeds. At sowing, 2V2 bags of DAP per hectare should be used. Later, after each harvesting, 2V2 bags of urea should be added to the soil. Seed rate and method of sowing. The seeds of rhodesgrass are very small and light. In the Peshawar region, the seed is broadcast at the rate of 6-10 kg/ha. In the Lahore and Hyderabadregions, however, it is planted vegetatively.
For this purpose, 25-35 thousand cuttings are required for one ” hectare. Planting in shallow furrows 45-60 em apart, with good moisture, is recommended. It should preferably be sown after leguminous crops like berseem or senji.
Sowing time. The best time to plant this crop is in February. IntercuIture and weeding. Hoeing is not necessary; however, tall weeds affecting the developing crops should be pulled out in time. Irrigation. Rhodesgrass can withstand drought conditions, and in areas with high rainfall it seldom requires irrigation.
Time of harvesting. It may be grazed or cut. For cutting, the best stage is at re-fl wering. Delayed cutting reduces forage quality and palatability. From a February sowing, four forage harvests can be taken by the second week of October.
Seed production. Rhodesgrass flowers three or four times a year and produces spikes/heads abundantly. All the seeds do not mature at the same time; therefore the spikes must be collected at suitable intervals so as to avoid shattering loss. If seed production is the objective, the crop should not be cut after flowering.