Cultivation of Hybrid Napier Grass for Cattle Feeds; A Full Guide of Information

Cultivation of Hybrid Napier Grass for Cattle Feeds ; A full Guide of Information

Cultivation of Hybrid Napier Grass for Cattle Feeds; A full Guide of Information

Napier Grass or elephant grass  (Pennisetum purpureum Schum) belongs to the family Poaceae (alt. Gramineae) It is a perennial grass that provides and palatable green fodder year-round it is also as  Uganda grass.  For hay-making, this grass is too coarse, but it can be for silage making. A combination of Napier grass with lucerne or cowpea provides good quality palatable fodder for cattle. Napier is considered as a soil-restoring crop as grass leaves the soil richer organic matter  

Napier or elephant grass is a native of Rhodesia in South Africa,  The name *Napier grass’ is given in honor of Col. Napier, who first drew attention to the value of this grass as fodder.
Napier grass is a tall perennial grass growing to a height of 150 to 200 centimeters. It is similar to sugarcane, in habit of growth in clumps of 20 to 30 stalks. The plant tillers profusely. When full-grown the stems are reed-like. The lower part of the stem is usually smooth the portion near the top is usually hairy. The leaves are dull green long growing to about 90 centimeters. 

Nutritive Value of Napier Grass ;

Napier grass is a favorite food for the elephants that is why it is called Elephant Grass Due to its high productivity it is considered a forage and biofuel crop.
it contains about 8.2% protein, 34% crude fiber, 10.5% ash with both calcium and in proper balance. The total digestible nutrient ranges from 55-58%.

Required Climatic Condition for Napier Grass Cultivation ;

It can be grown in tropical and subtropical regions but it gives the best result under warm tropics. It produces the best growth between 25 and 40°C, and little growth below about 15°C. The growth ceases at 10°C. It normally grows in areas with rainfall >1,000 mm It is highly susceptible to frost and waterlogged conditions It may stand under drought conditions for a shorter spell and it regenerates in the rainy season.

Important Varieties of Napier Grass ;


Suitable for the Regions

Central India, North East Hills and Northern Hills

IGFRI Hybrid Napier – 3

Whole Country

Pusa Giant & NB -21

Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, AP, and Gujrat

Co-1, Co-2 ,Co-3 ,Co-5

Hilly, Sub Humid, and Sub Temperate India



PBN – 83

Whole Country

IGFR- 10


Super Napier Grass;

This is an interspecific hybrid between Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) and Bajra (Pennisetum typhoides). It is widely known as Bajra-Napier Hybrid  Hybrid Napier is a perennial grass that can be retained in the field for 2-3 years.

Comparison Between Napier Grass and Super Napier Grass;


Napier grass

Super Napier Grass

Height  after 60 Days of Sowing

6 ft

10 ft

First Harvest

90 – 120 days

90 days

Days Till Every Succeeding Harvest

42-56 days for Animal Feeding

60-90 days (4-6 times a year)

45-60 days for animal feeding

3-4 months for energy

Crude Protein % at First Harvest

8 – 12 %

16- 18%

Cow to Hectare Ratio



Fresh Yield/Hac

300 – 400 tones per Ha

570 tones per ha

Dry Matter Yield/year

40 tones/Ha

140 tones per Ha


Crop Rotations and Mixed Cropping

The following cropping patterns involving hybrid Napier much used for a wide range of climatic conditions. 

(1) Hybrid Napier is intercropped with cowpea during the Kharif and with berseem during Rabi. 
(2) Hybrid Napier is intercropped with cowpea during Kharif and lucerne during Rabi. 
In the above two rotations, Hybrid Napier may be planted from February end to June-July. Earlier planting is better to get me timely production but it needs assured irrigation. NB-21 and Pusa Giant varieties are better for intercropping. Two budded stem cuttings or rooted slips should be planted at a spacing of 90 centimeters between rows and 60 centimeters between plants. Cowpeas should be planted between the rows to increase the yield and quality of forage, build up soil fertility, suppress weed growth, and also conserve soil moisture. With the start of winter, the growth of Hybrid Napier is checked due to low temperature, particularly in the northern parts of India, and hence berseem or lucerne may be planted to get forage during that period. Hybrid Napier supplies fodder for four to five years. The stumps of Hybrid Napier become old and the tillering capacity diminishes considerably, hence fresh planting is taken up after four to five years.

Field Preparation for Napier Grass Cultivation

The land should be prepared well and should be free from weeds. A good seedbed that is firm and well-leveled is required for plant Napier grass. Give the first ploughing with a mold-board plough and the subsequent two ploughings with a cultivator or harrow. Planking should follow every ploughing.

Seed and Sowing of Napier Grass;

 a) Sowing Time A well-prepared seedbed with adequate moisture is essential for its establishment at the end of February or March. The Best time of sowing is between 15 Feb to 15 March

 b) Seed Rate The grass does not produce viable seeds, hence it is propagated by vegetative means. 
c) Sowing Method  

Both stem and root cuttings are used for their propagation when stem cutting is used for planting it must have two or three nodes with potent buds. It should be planted with a spacing of 90 x 60 centimeters. One bud is buried underground for the sprouting of roots and the rest one or two are kept at and above ground level for the sprouting of shoots. When rootstocks are used they are separated into root slips and planted to a depth of 25-30 centimeters in the soil at a spacing of 90 x 60 centimeters in February. March or in July at the onset of monsoon. About 27,800 root slips or stem cuttings are needed for planting one hectare of land.

The requirement of Manures and Fertilisers ;

Hybrid Napier is quick-growing and responds to high fertility. Add 15-20 tonnes of farmyard manure or compost to the soil at least one month before planting. 

Apply phosphorus and potash as per the soil at the time of sowing. It should be followed by the top dressing of nitrogenous fertilizers at the rate of 100 kg nitrogen per hectare. The topdressing should be done twice a year; one fifteen days after planting at the rate of 50 kg nitrogen per hectare and the other towards the end of the winter season. Il convenient, divide the whole amount of nitrogen into three or four equal doses and apply after each cutting for quick growth.

Water Management in Napier Grass cultivation ;

Immediately after planting, the plot should be irrigated heavily Subsequent irrigations should be given at weekly intervals for about two to three weeks by which time the planting would get established. Later the plot would need irrigation at intervals of a fortnight or so, depending on rainfall and other seasonal conditions. During the rainy season after continuous rains, excess water from the field should be removed heavy and continuous rains excess water from as Napier grass is very sensitive to waterlogging conditions

Weed Control in Napier Grass Field ;

In the initial stage, intercultural operations are necessary to keep down while the grass is getting established. Two to three weedings have controlled the weeds. Weeding may be done either with a hand hoe or through a wheel hoe.

Diseases and Insect Pests of Napier Grass 

There is no problem with diseases and pests in Napier are occasionally attacked by grasshoppers and stem borers. They controlled by spraying Endosulfan 35 EC at the rate of 1.5-liter in 1000 liters of water per hectare. Two sprays are enough to control these Sprayings should be done at least 30 days before cutting of fodder

Harvesting of the Napier Grass;

If the planting is done in February March, the crop will be ready for the first cut by the middle of May. Subsequent cuttings can be taken every 45 to 50 days, except during the winter months of November to January, when growth is rather slow, and the interval of cutting would have to be extended. While cutting the grass, it is desirable to leave stubble height of at least 10-15 centimeters from the ground level so as to avoid damage to the young growing buds near the base of the plant. The crop should not be allowed to completely mature as the cattle will not relish the fodder and at the same time its nutritive value falls drastically

The yield of the Napier Grass

Napier grass yields about 1200-1500 quintals of green fodder annual basis under good crop management.

Further, Read;

Cultivation of Berseem

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