The hybrid Napier for fodder is highly valued for its abundant herbage yield, palatability and good herbage quality. It contains 8.7-10.2% CP, 28-30.5% crude fibre and 10-11.5% ash on dry matter basis. It provides nutritious and palatable fodder all the year round. It grows faster and produces more herbage and the stems are hard.
It is triploid grass and thus does not produce seeds. The oxalate contain of some of the varieties may be high (> 3%). It can be mitigated if harvested at longer intervals (45-60 days). The grass is ideal for green fodder, silage and hay. Legumes fodder may be mixed with grass in the ratio of 1:2 to produce balanced silage.
A combination of napier grass with berseem, lucerne or cowpea provide good quality palatable fodder for cattle. It is considered as a soil restoring crop also as grass leaves the soil richer in organic matter.
It grow well at high temperatures, can withstand to drought conditions for fairly long spell. It grows in areas with rainfall of over 1000 mm but it cannot tolerate the flooding /water logging. The optimum temperature is 310 C but it performs well in areas having temperatures above 150 C. Light showered alternated with bright sunshine are very congenial to the crop. It is a tropical grass which can withstand drought for a short spell and regenerate with rains.
It can grow on almost all type and fertility status of soils but being exhaustive species, well drained clay loam soils are preferred. The crop can bear soils acidity to limited extent (pH-5.5).
|Varieties||Areas of cultivation||Green fodder (t/ ha)|
|IGFRI Hybrid napier No. 3 and 6||Central India, north-east hills and northern hills||80|
|Pusa giant & NB 21||Entire country||100-160|
|Co 1, Co 2 and Co 3||Tamilnadu, Karnataka, AP and Gujrat||120-170|
|IGFRI 7||Hilly, sub humid, and sub temperate India||140-170|
It is a long duration crop, hence periodical tillage activities like other crops are not possible after the crop occupies the field. Generally 2-3 ploughing followed by planking is required to obtain the fine tilth.
Seed & Sowing
It is propagated by stem cuttings with two buds called rooted slips. About 25000 to 40000 rooted slips or stem cuttings/ha are needed. Planting can be done at any time of year except during winter months. February planting is most suitable in areas where assured irrigation facility is available. Under rainfed conditions July-August planting is preferred.
Stem cuttings are placed into the soil at an angle of 450, so that one node is pushed into the soil and one remains above the soil surface. Rooted slips are prepared by uprooting a clump, dividing it into rooted slips with small stem. They should be planted in to field with a spacing of 70×50 cm for sole cropping and 100×50 cm for intercropping. Irrigation should be done just after the planting of crop.
Apply NPK fertilizers as per soil test values along with recommended FYM/compost. In absence of soil test results, 20-25 t FYM should be well mixed in soil at the time of land preparation. At sowing time a basal dose of 60kg N, 50 kg P2O5 and 40kg K2O/ha should be applied in bands prior to planting. Subsequently 20kg and 10kg N should respectively be top dressed just after and 20 days after the cut. Alternatively, the crop may be fertilized with 40 kg N just after the cut.
The crop should be planted in well moist soil condition. The crop needs regular irrigation at an interval of 15-18 days in March to May, at 10-12 days interval I summer months. During monsoon seasons the irrigation is rarely needed in event of long monsoon failure.
The gap filling may be done after 20 days of planting. Regular hand weeding/hoeing and ensures good aeration and crop growth as well as control weed growth.
Harvesting & Threshing
First cut at 60-65 days after planting and subsequent cuts are obtained at 25-30 days interval. At least 6-8 cuts are possible annually. In order to encourage quicker regeneration from the basal buds, stubbles of 10-15 cm are to be left out at harvest.