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It is a tall growing perennial forming dense tillers, which enlarge by short rootstocks or short creeping rhizomes. Leaves are long and broad. This grass is adapted to a wide range of soils and is drought and shade tolerant. Propagation is by seed and slips. The grass is recommended for cultivation in coconut gardens.

Soil and climate

Guinea grass thrives well in warm moist climate. It can grown from sea level to 1800m altitude. It is frost sensitive. It thrives between a temperature range of 15 to 38 c. The grass tolerates shade and grows under trees and bushes and is best suitable as an intercrop in coconut gardens. The grass is adapted to a wide range of soils. It usually grows on well drained light textured soil, preferably sandy loams, but is better suited to medium to highly fertile loams. It can not tolerate heavy clays or prolonged waterlogging.


The important varieties are Makueni, Riversdale, Hamil, PGG – 4, FR – 600, Haritha, Marathakom and Harithasree. Makueni is a drought resistant cultivar suited to rainfed situations in the state.


Under Kerala conditions, the best seasonof planting is with the onset of south west monsoon during May – June. As an irrigated crop planting can be done at any time of the year.

Planting materials

Seeds and slips can be used as planting material. Since seed germination is poorvegetative propagation is preferred. To obtain slips for planting, old clumps are uprooted and slips with roots are separated. For planting one hectare, 1.25 lakhs of slips are required. If seeds are used (3 kg per Ha), it should be sown in nursery and the seedlings transplanted in the main field.

Nursery management

The grass requires thorough cultivation to prepare a weed free seedbed for establishment. For this, two or three ploughings and one levelling are sufficient. In the prepared field, trenches of 10 cm width and 20 cm depth are made. In these trenches FYM should be applied along with phosphorus and pottassium fertilizers. Mix with soil cover the trenches and form ridges of 15 cm height for planting slips. In acid soils, application of lime @ 500 kg per Ha in alternate years is desirable.

Method of planting

Slips are planted on ridges @ 3 slips per hill. The spacing of 40 * 20 cm is followed when grown as an intercrop. For a pure crop, a wider spacing of 60 * 30 cm is required.


A basal dose of 10 tonnes of FYM, 50 kg phosphate, 50 kg potasj is recommended. For top dressing, use 200 kg N per Ha in two split doses, the first dose immediately after first cutting and the second dose during the northeast monsoon period. If irrigation facilities are available, topdressing can be given in more splits. The fertilizer may be applied on either side of the plants, along the row and earthed up.


At planting two irrigations are required within 7 to 10 days for quick establishment. The crop should be subsequently irrigated depending upon the rainfall and soil type. Usually irrigation once in 7 to 10 days is required. Irrigation with cowshed washing or sewage water within 3 – 4 days after cutting gives better growth.

Weed management

The delicate seedlings or newly emerged shoots from slips or cuttings require protection from weeds in the first two months. Two intercultivations should be given during this period. Later, intercultivation may be necessary after three or four cuttings.

Intercultivation practices

Guinea grass can be grown mixed with leguminous foder crops such as cowpea, stylo and siratro.


The crop is ready for harvest when it is ready for harvest when it reaches 1.5 m height. Cutting at 15 to 20 cm above the ground level is advised. The first cut is usually ready in 9 – 10 weeks after planting and subsequent cuts are taken at 45 to 60 days interval. About 6 to 7 harvests can be made in a year. Approximately 80 – 100 t per Ha of green fodder is obtained per year.

Processing and value addition

Forage Conservation

Silage and Hay making : Forage preservation is an important technique in intensive dairy management wherein it ensures adequate supply of plant nutrients during the lean season. Preservation means storing of green forage available during the lush season to feed the animals during the lean periods. Plants grow well with the onset of monsoon when moisture and temperature are not the limiting factors. It is important that all necessary action be initiated during this season to preserve surplus fodder.

There are two methods of forage preservation, which can be adopted by the farmers namely Silage and Hay.

In one method the forage preservation consists of chaffing of green forage and storing in the specially constructed underground or above ground structures ensuring that no air or moisture enters these structures. The green forage thus stored ferments under anaerobic conditions without appreciable loss to the nutritive value of the material preserved. The acids formed during the process of fermentation act as preservatives. The product thus obtained is termed ‘silage’.

The other method consists of harvesting at appropriate stage of growth, and drying to a safe level of around 15 to 16% moisture content without much bleaching, wetting or shattering of leaves. The forage preserved in this manner is called ‘Hay’.


Green forage in succulent form having a high moisture content preserved under controlled fermentation conditions is called silage. Ensilage is the name given to the process, and the container or the structures used for storing the forage crops is called the silo. Preservation is dependent upon the fermentation of soluble carbohydrates present in the plant material, into lactic acid resulting in a lowering of pH to within the range of 3.8-4.2. Material of this type is described as ‘well preserved silage’ and normally has a lactic acid content within the range of 8-12% of the dry matter. Success in achieving a lactic acid concentration of this level depends upon many factors, but basically upon having an adequate supply of soluble carbohydrates, and achieving and maintaining anaerobic conditions. Silage of pH about 4 will normally remain stable as long as the mass is kept under anaerobic conditions. However, if rain is allowed to enter the silage or if lactic acid concentration is inadequate, a secondary clostridial fermentation is likely to occur. Here the lactic acid is broken down to butyric acid and the aminoacids to ammonia, organic acids, amines and CO2, which are not desirable. If the material comes in contact with air, organic fermentation occurs leading to over heating resulting in a blackish form of mass, which is referred to as ‘mouldy silage’. This is often noticed in the surface and sides of silos. Such damaged materials should not be given to animals as it may contain nitrogenous decomposition products, which are toxic.

Types of soil

The basic principle involved in these structures is to accommodate the maximum quantity of forage in minimum space by avoiding the entry of air and water as far as possible for proper fermentation of the material. The size of silos can be determined on the basis of the quantity of forage material to be ensiled, and the number of silos depends mainly on the number of animals to be fed and period of feeding. The type of silo depends upon the climatic conditions prevailing in the area.

Silage generally gets ready for feeding in about six to eight weeks time and can be preserved for 2 to 3 years provided the material does not come in contact with air or moisture. '

The best quality silage has a pH range from 3.8 to 4.2 and is greenish yellow in colour. The materials should not stick to each other. The brown colour of silage is due to a pigment, phaeophytin that is a magnesium free derivative of chlorophyll. The smell would be fruity type.

While opening the pits for feeding the animals, the pit should not be fully exposed to air. Required quantity could be removed and fed to the animals. 10 to 15 kg/day/adult animal is the recommended quantity of silage that can be fed. Preferably, silage should be fed as the first feed of the day as forced feeding (when it is hungry) could increase the intake.


The commonest method of conserving green crops is by hay making, the success of which depends up on having a period of fine favourable weather.

The aim of haymaking is to reduce the moisture content of the green crop to a level low enough to inhibit the action of plant and microbial enzymes. The moisture content of green crop depends on many factors, but may range from about 65 to 85%, tending to fall as the plant matures. In order to store a green crop satisfactory in a stack or bale, the moisture content must be reduced to 15-16%. The custom of cutting the crop in a mature state when the moisture content is at its lowest is a sensible procedure for rapid drying and maximum yield, but unfortunately the more mature the herbage, the poorer is the nutritive value.

Paddy Straw

The vegetative portion of paddy plant after harvesting the grain is dried and used as roughage feed for cattle. It is high in crude fibre, low in protein and low in energy value. Paddy straw forms the staple roughage of the cattle of Kerala. Well cured straw will have golden yellow colour and has a TDN value of 40 to 44%. Treating the material with urea at the rate of 4 kg per 100 kg dry straw at 50 to 55% moisture level and keeping the material under anaerobic condition for atleast 6 weeks can improve the nutritive value of paddy straw.