Group Title: Press bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Title: Napier grass
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 Material Information
Title: Napier grass
Series Title: Press bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Physical Description: 2 p. : ;
Language: English
Creator: Thompson, John B ( John Bert ), b. 1878
Publisher: University of Florida, Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1919
Subject: Pennisetum purpureum -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Grasses as feed -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Cattle -- Feeding and feeds -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by J.B. Thompson.
General Note: Caption title.
General Note: "January 25, 1919."
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00005193
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAA6517
ltuf - AEP5889
oclc - 52861913
alephbibnum - 000934822

Full Text





Napier grass, Pennisetum purpureum, is a native of Tropical Africa
and was first introduced into the United States in 1913 by the Federal
Department of Agriculture. It is a rank growing perennial grass, with
non-saccharine juice, and ranges from 6 feet to 15 feet or more in height.
It is quick growing and bunchy, each plant bearing many coarse stalks or
canes with numerous broad succulent leaves. At the Experiment Station
it has shown a habit of sending out a branch from each of the upper joints
during the late summer months; and in October each of these bears a
long millet-like seed spike varying from 3 to 10 or more inches in length.

Napier grass may be propagated by either one of three methods. It
may be grown from joints of the canes, from divisions of the root bunch,
or from the seed. The mature canes may be cut before frost in the fall and
banked over winter by the method commonly practiced in the handling
of Japanese cane or sugar cane. In the spring these seed canes may be
planted horizontally in open furrows made 6 feet apart and the canes
dropped from 3 to 4 feet apart in the row. Where the number of seed
canes is limited and it is desired to adopt a system that will insure the
maximum number of plants from the canes available, single eye cuttings
may be successfully used. These are prepared by severing the canes
with a sharp slanting cut about an inch below each joint. In planting these
the lower end of the cutting is simply thrust obliquely into the plowed
ground to a depth of 4 or 5 inches. In preparation for planting the soil
should be thoroly harrowed to eliminate air spaces and prevent the cut-
tings from drying out too rapidly. If, however, the canes are sufficiently
mature, and the soil is in good condition both roots and sprouts will be
sent out from the same joint and a good vigorous plant will soon be estab-
lished. The root clump may also be divided into several parts, each of which
is capable of producing an independent plant. Napier grass seeds freely in
the latitude of Gainesville and has produced mature seed as early as the
last week in October. Many of these seeds are found to germinate; and
the practice of propagating plants by this method would seem entirely
practicable, at least while seed canes are not available in quantities ade-
quate to entirely supply the demand for them. The seed should be sown
in seed flats or boxes and the seedlings may be planted to the field when
about 6 inches high. Plantings should be made in rows 6 feet apart with

January 25, 1919

spaces of from 3 to 4 feet between plants in the row. On highly fertile
soil these distances should be increased.

With respect to soil requirements this grass does not seem as exacting
as are many of our more familiar forage plants. It thrives remarkably
well on good muck or other rich moist soil. It also does comparatively
well on the lighter drier soils having average fertility. There is an
impression rife among interested parties that this grass will produce
lage crops on any type of soil and that it requires little or no care. This
belief is unfounded. Plantings made in many parts of Florida during
the past year indicate that results will vary according to the fertility of
the soil, and that at least as much care and cultivation will be required
as is necessary to produce a good crop of Japanese cane. It is a drouth
resistant grass, but will thrive best where soil moisture is not lacking.
It seems especially able to appropriate plant food from comparatively poor
soil, but it can not continue indefinitely to produce heavy crops on a light
soil without some provision for returning the plant food removed.


There are, as yet, little data on the yields of this grass in Florida,
but there seems little doubt that where conditions are favorable, there is no
other forage crop that will excel it in the production of green feed. One
test made at the Experiment Station yielded at the rate of 19.5 tons to
the acre, while another planted at a different time and under different
conditions gave a crop weighing at the rate of 39.1 tons of green feed to
an acre of land. These results were obtained from new pinewood land
of 'rather better than average fertility but with no fertilizer. Two tests
made under government auspices in New South Wales resulted in yields
of 16 and 25 tons of green fodder respectively after a period of four
months from the time of planting. Napier grass is a splendid crop for
soiling purposes, as it ratoons freely, is palatable as a green fodder, and
very nutritious. An official analysis made by the Government Chemist
of New South Wales and reported in the Agricultural Gazette of New
South Wales, for July 1917, shows this grass to be unusually high in food
nutrients, containing in the green form 3.58 percent protein, and constitut-
ing a good balanced ration for a cow when yielding a good flow of milk.
Like other green roughage, a full ration would not, of course, contain
enough dry matter as a complete feed for fattening or forcing milk pro-
duction, and some concentrates would be required to produce best results.
State papers please copy.

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