Forage Potential of Photoperiod-Sensitive millet (Pennisetum Americanum (Linn.) K. Shum.) in South Western Nigeria
In Nigeria, millet, an important cereal of the dry tropics, could be grown for forage in the low land forest zone where it is not normally cultivated and where the rainy season lasts eight or more months.
To determine its potential as an annual forage, 'Maiwa', which is a short-day photoperiod-sensitive millet (Pennisetum americanum (Linn.) K. Schum.), was evaluated in 1972 along with the following promising genotypes of three perennial forage grasses, for comparisons: Nchisi variety of Guinea grass (Panicum maximum Jacq.) S. 112, elephant grass (Pennisetum purpereum Schum.) S.12 a local selection, and F1 Pennisetum Hybrid No.18 an interspecific hybrid of 'maiwa' millet and elephant grass. The perennial grasses were harvested estimation while 'maiwa' was first harvested every five weeks for dry matter (DM) yield estimation while 'maiwa' was first harvested five weeks after sowing and then every four weeks thereafter.
Both total and daily DM production of 'maiwa' were significantly lower than those of all the perennial grasses. Annual DM production, average daily DM production and average DM content of 'maiwa', Guinea grass, elephant grass and the F1 Pennisetum hybrid were, respectively 10510, 18731, 16796 and 14900 kg/ha; 51.77, 89.19, 80.00, and 70.95 kg/ha; and 14.12, 19.32, 12.46 and 14.30%. However, 'maiwa' contained significantly more leaf in the freshly cut herbage with 55% compared to 46, 43 and 43% for Guinea grass, elephant grass and F1 Pennisetum hybrid No.18 respectively, When cut at four and five weeks crude protein (CP) values of 'maiwa' were 17.41 and 15.78% of DM respectively and were higher than those of Guinea grass (10.94 and 10.14%), elephant grass (12.68 11.17%). Crude fibre (CF) values of 'maiwa' at four and five weeks were 26.06 and 27.96% of DM respectively while those of the perennial grasses ranged between 26.14 and 28.61% and 27.35 and 30.64%, respectively. Mortality of 'maiwa stands increased from 6% early in the rainy season when the study was terminated. When grazed in 1975, 66.7% fo 'maiwa' DM on offer was consumed. The results indicated a superiority in quality of "maiwa' forage. Improvement in quality of 'maiwa' forage. Improvement in the level and seasonal distribution of 'maiwa' herbage production as well as quality can be realised through suitable agronomic practices as well as breeding.