Mun River Guinea

Megathyrus maximus
cv. Mun River

formerly Panicum maximum

It was introduced into Thailand from Costa Rica in 2015 and was evaluated in 3 years of field trials by Ubon Forage Seeds before being released in 2019.

Productivity

Mun River guinea grass is a perennial, tall, leafy grass, similar to Mombasa guinea grass but with broader and softer leaves. Mun River has a high proportion of leaves (80-85%). It is a perennial and will grow for 10 years or more under good management. It is a very productive leafy grass, producing between 15-20t/ha dry matter per year on poor soils in Thailand.

Mun River is not tolerant of waterlogging and only has moderate drought tolerance, It does not tolerate salty soils.

Establishment

Mun River can be established by sowing seed or transplanting seedlings or tillers with roots from a nursery.

  • For seed sowing, broadcast 8-10 kg/ha into a well-cultivated seed bed. Cultivate by ploughing, discing and harrowing to produce a fine seed bed.
  • Broadcast the seed over the field and then cover the seeds with 1-2 cm of soil by gently brushing or raking or harrowing. A light roller can also be used to press the seeds into the soil.
  • If planting tillers, plant the rooted tillers in rows, 50 cm apart into moist soil. Irrigate if no rain falls on the day of planting.

Management

Fertilizer

Apply 200 kg/ha of NPK fertilizer (15:15:15) at seed sowing and then after every forage cut or grazing.

Cutting

  • First cut is at 60-80 days after planting or when the plants are between knee and waist height (60-80 cm high). Cut down to about 10-15 cm or at ankle height.
  • After the first cut, cut thereafter every 40-45 days in the wet season or when the plants reach between 60-80 cm in height. If the grass is too tall (over 80 cm high) it is low in quality (low crude protein and high fibre).
  • In the dry season, cut when the plants reach between 50-70 cm in height or about every 60-70 days if there is no irrigation.

Crude Protein Levels

8-12% crude protein in Thailand on poor soils and 12-14% crude protein on better soils.

Digging out seedlings with roots for transplanting
Planting seedlings
Field of Mun River 80 days after planting
Field of Mun River for seed production

Ubon Paspalum

Paspalum atratum
cv. Ubon

Pasture atratum is a wild species native to the states of Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias and Minas Geriais in central-western Brazil. An accession of this wild species, BRA 009610, was originally collected near the village of Terenos, Mato Grosso do Sul State, Brazil, by Dr. J. Valls in April 1986. Small amounts of seed were subsequently distributed to research institutions in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Florida and the Philippines.

In November 1994, Ubon Ratchathani University received 100 grams of BRA 009610 from Dr. Werner Stur of the Forages for Smallholders Project based at IRRI, Philippines [a project funded by AustAid and managed by CSIRO (Australia) and CIAT (Colombia)]. Fifty grams of this seed were used for the initial evaluation research and the other 50 grams were used for seed multiplication.

Following 3 years of evaluation work in northeast Thailand, P. atratum was consistently found to be the best grass on seasonally wet-seasonally dry soils and in 1997 it was released for forage use by Ubon Ratchathani University as cultivar Ubon.

Productivity

In Thailand on low fertility, waterlogged soils, Ubon paspalum produces between 20 and 30 t/dry matter per hectare/year. 70% is produced in the 6 month wet season and 30% in the 6 month dry season under no irrigation. Ubon paspalum is not drought tolerant but it is very tolerant of waterlogging. It will survive short periods of flooding.

Crude Protein Levels

5-8% crude protein in Thailand on poor wet soils and 8-10 % crude protein on better soils in Vietnam.

Animal Production

Data from Thailand, showed that young steers grazing Ubon paspalum had an average daily weight gain of 0.5 kg eating only grass. Despite having relatively low crude protein levels compared to other grasses, cattle gain weight because Ubon paspalum is very leafy and highly digestible.

Grazing Management

Can be either rotationally grazed or set stocked. Management depends on the farmer’s experience. Therefore cut every 40-45 days in the wet season and 60-70 days in the cool season. It is important to cut Ubon paspalum frequently. If it becomes too mature and old (more than 50 days in the wet season and 70 days in the dry season), it becomes very unpalatable because of low nitrogen levels and high stem content. Cattle will refuse to eat it.

Establishment

Can be either rotationally grazed or set stocked. Management depends on the farmer’s experience. Therefore cut every 40-45 days in the wet season and 60-70 days in the cool season. It is important to cut Ubon paspalum frequently. If it becomes too mature and old (more than 50 days in the wet season and 70 days in the dry season), it becomes very unpalatable because of low nitrogen levels and high stem content. Cattle will refuse to eat it.

Seed

Seed is hand harvested in Thailand and has a very high purity (99%+) and high germination (80%+).

Ubon paspalum pasture on wet soils in northeast Thailand
Ubon paspalum tolerates waterlogging
Beef cow grazing Ubon paspalum in northeast Thailand
Dairy cows grazing Ubon paspalum in northeast Thailand

Tanzania Guinea

Megathyrus maximus
cv. Tanzania (Purple guinea)

formerly Panicum maximum

Tanzania guinea grass was introduced into Thailand from the Ivory Coast in the late 1980s. It was immediately accepted by Thailand farmers, because it was far more productive than common guinea grass and it produced very high yields of good quality forage. It was also easy to produce seed and so seed was readily available.

Productivity

Tanzania Guinea is a tall grass, 1.5-2.5 m high, which is very suitable for cut-and-carry forage. In South America it is grazed, but in Thailand it is mainly used for cut-and-carry forage. It is the main grass for fresh grass sales in Thailand. It is a very productive leafy grass, producing between 12 and 20 t/ha dry matter per year. However, its dry matter yields are usually 28% or more lower than that of Mombasa guinea grass.

Crude Protein Levels

8-12% crude protein in Thailand on poor soils and 12-16% crude protein on better soils.

Animal Production

In South America, cattle liveweight gains of 720 g/hd/day during the wet season and 240 g in the dry season have been achieved from grazing Tanzania guinea grass pastures.

Grazing Management

Tanzania guinea grass can be either rotationally grazed or set stocked. Management depends on the farmer’s experience. All farmers in Thailand prefer cut-and-carry. Therefore cut every 40-45 days in the wet season and 60-70 days in the cool season.

Establishment

Tanzania guinea grass can be either planted in rows, 50 cm apart, or broadcast sown at 6-8 kg/ha. Sow the seed on to the soil surface, brush the seed with soil by using tree branches or large brooms. Bury the seed no more than 1-2 cm under the soil. It is easy to plant from rooted tillers. It needs well drained, good fertility soils to grow well.

Seed

Seed produced in Thailand is harvested by hand and has a purity of over 98% and germination of 70-80%. It is pure-to type with no other guinea grass seeds in Tanzania guinea grass seed from Thailand.

Tanzania guinea pasture in Thailand
Tanzania guinea pasture planted in rows in Thailand
Tanzania pasture in northern Vietnam

Mombasa Guinea

Megathyrus maximus
cv. Mombasa

formerly Panicum maximum

It was introduced into Brazil from Tanzania in 1993, from near Korogwe, Tanzania. Large tussocks to 2 m, stems tinged with purple. Leaves are long, to 3 cm wide, with short hairs on the upper surface; leaf sheaths are glabrous. Good drought and cold tolerance. Dry matter yield 28%-40% more than that of Tanzania guinea grass.

Productivity

Mombasa guinea grass is a tall grass, similar to hybrid Napier grass in habit, but far more leafy and is very suitable for cut-and-carry. It is a very productive leafy grass, producing between 15-20 t/ha dry matter per year on poor soils in Thailand. Does not tolerate waterlogging and has average drought and cold tolerance. Dry matter yields 28%-40% more than that of Tanzania guinea grass.

Establishment

Sow the seed at the beginning of the wet season when there is good rain. If the seed is sown in the dry season, irrigation will have to be used.

  1. Cultivate the soil well. Plough, disc and harrow. Remove all weeds.
  2. Disc the soil into a fine seed bed before sowing the seed at 8-10 kg/ha.
  3. Broadcast the seed over the soil and then cover the seed with only 1-2 cm of soil. Cover by raking or brushing with large brooms or tree branches, or by gently rolling over the seeds with a light roller to press the seeds into the soil.
  4. If there is no rain, irrigate as soon as possible after sowing.

Crude Protein Levels

8-12% crude protein in Thailand on poor soils and 12-14% crude protein on better soils.

Animal Production

No data from Thailand, but in South America, live-weight gains of 770 kg/ha/yr compared with 600, and 590 kg/ha/yr from Tanzania guinea grass and Tobiata guinea grass have been reached. It is more productive than Tanzania guinea grass producing between 20-30% more dry matter in trials in Thailand.

Management

Fertilizer

Apply 200 kg/ha of NPK fertilizer (15:15:15) at seed sowing and then after every forage cut or grazing.

Cutting

  1. First cut is at 60-80 days after planting or when the plants are between knee and waist height (60-80 cm high). Cut down to about 10-15 cm or at ankle height.
  2. After the first cut, cut thereafter every 40-45 days in the wet season or when the plants reach between 60-80 cm in height. If the grass is too tall (over 80 cm high) it is low in quality (low crude protein and high fibre).
  3. In the dry season, cut when the plants reach between 50-70 cm in height or about every 60-70 days if there is no irrigation.

Seed

Seed produced in Thailand is harvested by hand and has a purity of over 99%. It is pure-to type with no other guinea grass seeds in Mombasa seed from Thailand.

Broadcast sowing seed on to a fine seed bed
Cover the seed by raking lightly
Mombasa guinea is a tall leafy grass
Mombasa pasture in Thailand

Mulato II

Urochloa ruziziensis × U. decumbens × U. brizantha
cv. Mulato II

formerly Brachiaria ruziziensis × B. decumbens × B. brizantha

Mulato II is a three-way hybrid (Urochloa ruziziensis × U. decumbens × U. brizantha). Mulato II is the result of three generations of crosses and screening carried out by CIAT’s tropical forages project. Mulato II was developed at CIAT in Colombia from an original B. ruziziensis × B. decumbens cross, followed by 2 generations of hybridisation by open exposure to B. brizantha pollen in the field and was commercially released by Grupo Papalotla in 2004. It is the second Brachiaria hybrid developed by CIAT, and being an apomictic hybrid it is genetically stable and does not segregate or divide from one generation to the next.

Productivity and Forage Quality

In Thailand on low fertility, acid soils (pH 4.7), Mulato II has produced between 14 and 17 t/dry matter/hectare/year. 70% was produced in the 6 month wet season and 30% in the 6 month dry season without irrigation. Mulato II produces a very high leaf DM percentage. In trials in Thailand with other Brachiaria cultivars, Mulato II produced 71% leaf DM in the wet season and 86% leaf DM in the dry season, significantly more than ruzi, signal, Marandu and Toledo.

In southern China on better soils (pH 6.3), Mulato II planted at the end of April, produced 35 t/dry matter/ha in seven months, with 11% crude protein, low fiber and a high leaf ratio (85%).

In trials in Central and South America, Mulato II produced more dry-season forage and had better milk production over time than Mulato and other Brachiaria cultivars.

Crude Protein Levels

10-14% crude protein in Thailand on poor soils and 12-17% crude protein on better soils in Florida, USA. In Indonesia crude protein levels of 21.6% have been achieved.

Animal Production

In Florida USA, young animals grazing Mulato II pastures at 4-6 heifers/ha averaged 0.4-0.6 kg live-weight per day with no concentrates.

In work carried out by CIAT, milk production of cows grazing different types of Brachiaria cultivars was studied. Milk production from cows grazing Mulato II produced 11% more milk during the dry season and 23% more milk during the wet season compared to production from cows grazing signal grass or Toledo.

In Mexico, dairy cows grazing Mulato II produced 30% more milk than cows grazing signal grass because of better forage quality and persistence, which allowed for higher stocking rates.

Drought Tolerance

Mulato II has an extensive root system which allows it to tolerate drought and enables it to have rapid regrowth at the onset of the wet season. Its pubescent leaves allows Mulato II to efficiently use moisture deposited on the leaves by the evening dew until late the next morning.

In trials in Thailand, Mulato II produced significantly more dry season DM and significantly more leaf DM than ruzi, signal, Marandu and Toledo Brachiaria cultivars.

It is the ability of Mulato II to maintain green leafy DM during the dry season (85% leaf ratio) that makes it an outstanding, dry season forage.

Adaptation to Acid Soils

In Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, Mulato II grows very well on very acid soils with a pH of 4.5-5.0. However, for persistence, phosphate fertilizer must be applied to the Mulato II pastures to avoid aluminum toxicity. In trials on highly acid soils over 3 years in Thailand, Mulato II produced significantly more DM and leaf DM than other Brachiaria cultivars.

Grazing and Cutting Management

Mulato II can be either rotationally grazed or set stocked. Management depends on the farmer’s experience. However, because of its superior forage quality and excellent forage production, Mulato II is very suitable for intensive rotational management. During the wet season, 30-45 day rest periods between grazing are recommended depending on soils and fertilization. During the dry season, without irrigation, longer rest periods of 50-60 days are recommended.

Most farmers in Southeast Asia prefer cut-and-carry, feeding their cattle in stalls. Cutting to about 5 cm above ground level every 40-45 days in the wet season and 60-70 days in the dry season is recommended.

On good soils with fertilizer applied, quicker grazing and more frequent cutting can be practiced.

Mulato II is very suitable as a high quality forage to make hay and silage.

Establishment

Mulato II can be either planted in rows, 40-50 cm apart, or broadcast sown at 10-12 kg/ha. For drilling the seed through seed drills, be very careful to not bury the seed more than 2 cm depth. Roller drills are preferred because they do not bury the seed.

For broadcast sowings, seed can be spread mechanically or hand sown. The seed must be covered after sowing by harrows or using tree branches or large brooms. Bury the seed no more than 1-2 cm under the soil.

Seed

Mulato II seed is acid scarified by the seed producer to give seed high viability (90%+), high germination (70%+) and high purity (98-99%). This good quality ensures rapid establishment of pastures. All Mulato II seed from Thailand is acid scarified before sale.

Mulato II pasture in Thailand
Mulato II for cut and carry forage in Thailand
Mulato II pasture planted in rows in Thailand
Mulato II pasture in northern Vietnam
Mulato II pasture during dry season in northern Vietnam
Mulato II between rubber trees northern Vietnam