Growth and Yield Evaluation of <i>Urochloa</i> Grass Cultivars in Sub-Humid Region of Kenya

Abstract

Livestock production in sub humid region of Kenya is constrained by inadequate and low quality pasture. Astudy was conducted to evaluate growth and productivity of eight improved Urochloa grass cultivars inlower midlands, upper midlands and lower highlands agro-ecological zones (AEZ) in Eldoret, Kitale andAlupe respectively, western Kenya. The grass cultivars were; Urochloa brizantha cvs. Marandu, Xaraes,Piata, and MG-4, U. decumbens, cv. Basilisk, U. humidicola cvs. Humidicola and Llanero and Urochloahybrid cv. Mulato II. Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana) and Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum cv.Kakamega 1) were included as controls. At establishment stage, growth parameters (height, cover andspread) and dry matter yield (DMY) were monitored at 14 weeks after seedling emergence (WAE) andstandardization cut conducted to stimulate uniform plant growth. Thereafter (production stage), the plantswere repeatedly harvested for DMY determination at 6, 8 and 12 weeks intervals. The growth parametersand DMY varied significantly (p < 0.05) among the cultivars in all the AEZ in all the measurement dates.Napier grass recorded the highest mean height (60 to 120 cm) at the end of establishment period whileamong Urochloa cultivars, MG-4, Basilisk and Xaraes recorded the highest mean height and plot coveracross all AEZs. All Urochloa cultivars gave significantly (p < 0.05) lower DMY than Napier grass in Kitaleand Alupe while Basilisk and Xaraes recorded similar DMY to Napier grass in Eldoret. In Eldoret, Xaraesrecorded the highest DMY (2.54 t ha-1) while in Kitale and Alupe the highest DMY was recorded in MG-4(3.7 t ha-1) and Basilisk (4.72 t ha-1), respectively. Increasing cutting interval increased DMY but reducednutritive value of Urochloa cultivars in Kitale. Basilisk, MG-4, Xaraes and Piata showed potential toestablish and grow well across AEZs and to maximize production and nutritive value cutting at 8 weeksinterval is recommended.

Description

Keywords

Urochloa Cultivars, Dry Matter Yield, Nutritive Quality, Height, Plot Cover, Spread

Citation

Kifuko-Koech, M. N., Ndung’u-Magiroi, K. W., Mutoko, M. C., Kamidi, M., & Njarui, D. M. (2021). Growth and yield evaluation of Urochloa grass cultivars in sub-humid region of Kenya.

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