Setaria

Page last updated: Thursday, 16 May 2019 - 12:32pm

Management

In the first year defer grazing until the plants are well anchored. Test the plants to ensure they are strongly anchored before grazing.

When established, heavy grazing is required to maintain vegetative growth and palatability. Young leafy regrowth has good digestibility, but this decreases rapidly as the plant matures, so regular rotational grazing is required.

Setaria is often used for hay and silage in South Africa.

Companion species

Can be grown with other bunch grasses and Rhodes grass, but under good growing conditions is reported to suppress the growth of companion grasses. Should be compatible with a range of annual legumes.

Cultivars

There are four cultivars of S. sphacelatavar. sericea and one seeding hybrid. The early cultivars grown in Australia were Nandi and Kazungula.

Nandi (public variety) is from a highland region of Kenya and was selected for leafiness and vigour. It has less drought tolerance than Kazungula and is susceptible to frost damage. Nandi contains the lowest levels of oxalate (3.0–3.7%) among the commercial varieties.

Kazungula (public variety) is an ecotype from Zimbabwe that has good flood and drought tolerance and has slightly better frost tolerance than Nandi. It is a more robust and coarser grass than Nandi and flowers about one month later in spring. Kazungula contains high levels of oxalate (3.3–7.0%).

Narok (public variety) was bred for improved frost tolerance and will withstand frosts of -3°C with negligible leaf damage, although heavier frosts will kill the leaves. It has better cool season growth than Nandi and Kazungula and is also more leafy and palatable. It contains moderate levels of oxalate. Seed production is poor, as it has a low number of flowering tillers.

Solander (public variety) is similar to Narok in both appearance and agronomy, but has superior seed production. It was developed because of problems with low seed production in Narok.

Cultivar Splenda (PBR) is a seeding hybrid from a cross of S. sphacelata var. sericea and S. sphacelata var. splendida. It is a tall (>2m at flowering), robust, leafy grass which is later flowering than Nandi and Narok and has some frost tolerance. It has a high content of oxalate with the concentration in young leaf (4.7%) comparable to Kazungula. Splenda was developed for the humid tropics of north Queensland, but has shown some promise in field testing in the coastal districts of WA.

Contact information

Geoff Moore
+61 (0)8 9368 3293

Author

Geoff Moore