Influence of Spacing on Performance of Elephant Grass (Pennisetum Purpureum Schum) during the year of Establishment in the Northern Guinea Savanna of Nigeria
A study was conducted using a split-plot design to determine the effect of within-row spacings of 90, 60 and 30cm at a constant 60cm inter-row distance on the forage yield and growth components of two elephant grass varieties, "Shika" and "Ngala", during establishment, at Shika in the northern guinea savanna of Nigeria.
With Closer spacing, dry matter (DM) yield increased from 11300 kg to 16700 kg/ha and 12300kg to 15300 kg/ha whilst crude protein (CP) yield increased from 517 kg to 644 kg/ha and 600 kg to 698 kg/ha, for "Shika" and "Ngala", respectively, during the wet season when most of the annual growth occurred. The data suggest that "Shika" was more sensitive to denser planting than "Ngala".
The stem and the green leaf made the greatest contribution to forage yield during the growing season. However, the green leaf accounted for a greater proportion of yield during the dry season when DM production fell drastically and crude protein content attained a peak.
Considerable stand mortality occasioned early July-planted "Ngala" and this provides evidence that it would not be beneficial to establish this more succulent variety at Shika untill ample rainfall has been recieved during the growing season. The low DM content of 18 per cent in 2.6 m tall "Ngala" suggests that successful ensilage of this crop would necessitate pre-wilting.
Wider spacing resulted in lower herbage yield and significantly greater weed competition.