Brachiaria ruziziensis x B. decumbens x B. brizantha

Tropical forage grass and tropical pasture grass species

Mulato II is a three-way hybrid (Brachiaria ruziziensis x B. decumbens x B. 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 x 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 produces between 14 and 17 t/dry matter/hectare/year. 70% is produced in the six month wet season and 30% in the six month dry season without irrigation. Mulato II produces a very high leaf DM percentage. In trials in Thailand with other Brachiarias cultivars, Mulato II produced 71% leaf DM in the wet season and 86% leaf DM in the dry season, significantly more than ruzi grass, signal grass, Marandu brachiaria and Toledo brachiaria.

In southern China on better soils (pH 6.3), Mulato II planted at the end of April, has 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 has 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.

Animal production

In Florida USA, young animals grazing Mulato II pastures at 4-6 heifers/ha averaged 0.4-0.6 kg, liveweight 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 brachiaria.

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 dry matter and significantly more leaf dry matter than ruzi grass, signal grass, and 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 three 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 grazings 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 grazings 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 to give seed high viability (90%+), high germination (80%+) and high purity (98-99%). This good quality ensures rapid establishment of pastures.

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