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Prof C S Dannhauser


The annual, summer grasses are limited to:

  • Hybrid Pearl millet (Baster Babala), 
  • Teff and 
  • Forage sorghums (Voersorghum).

Hybrid Pearl Millet (Baster Babala)  

Hybrid Pearl millet is a drought resistant annual fodder crop, adapted to the most areas in South Africa with a rainfall of above 400 mm. It can be used as green grazing, hay crop, silage and even its grain for human consumption. New cultivars produce high, they are drought resistant and no prussic acid poisoning, Combined with annual legumes like Dolichos and Cowpeas it produces good forage. Fertilization should be low to medium.

Seeding rate (Oct – Des):

3 – 5 kg/ha in dry areas, 6 – 10 kg/ha with higher rainfall & 10 – 15 kg/ha (Irrigated).

Hay production: 3 – 15 t/ha           Grazing capacity: 1.0 – 2.5 MLU/ha          Cultivars: Nutrified, Milkstar, Hypearl millet

Fodder Sorghum (Voersorghum)

Fodder Sorghum is adapted to most soils and Provinces in areas with a rainfall of 500 mm and higher. It can be used as green grazing, green chop, hay, standing hay and silage. Fertilization should be medium to high. Plant from October in warm areas and November/December in cooler areas. Three to four cuttings or grazing cycles are possible. There are different cultivars to be used for every purpose, as shown in the table below:

Supergraze, Pan 888, Pex 505, Niagrall, Kow kandy, Multicut, JumboGrazeHay, Green chop
Silage King, Sugargraze, Supasweet, Hunnigreen, Sweet Kandy, Nutritop, Kow Kandy (BMR),Silage, Hay, Standing hayGraze, green chop

Seeding rate:

20 – 25 kg/ha (1 bag) (irrigation)

1 bag per 2 ha (12.5 kg/ha) (medium rainfall).

1 bag per 3 ha (8 kg/ha) (dry areas).

DM production: 3 – 15 t/ha (up 25 t/ha at silage stage)

Teff (Tef)

Teff is an annual, fine stem and fine leaf hay grass that does well in the cooler parts of the country (the same areas as Weeping love grass). It is not at all meant for grazing, animals do not graze it. However it is an excellent hay crop, which is very popular amongst horse breeders. In the rest of Africa it is also used as grain crop for human consumption. Fertilization should be medium to high. The most popular cultivar is SA Brown.

Seeding rate (Oct-Dec.):

5 – 10 kg/ha up to 12 – 15 kg/ha in clay soils an high rainfall

Hay production: 3 – 12 t/ha


These winter growing grasses came mostly from areas with a cool or cold climate (like Europe or the Western Cape). In other words they will grow in the cooler areas of the world, where rainfall occurs in the winter. It is therefore, important to take notice that these crops will not grow all over South Africa, under dry land, for that reason irrigation is in most areas important. They grow more actively during the cooler months, thus during autumn, winter and spring, and must be irrigated in most parts of Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KZN, Free State and North West. Where the yearly rainfall is higher than 650 mm, in the mentioned provinces, they might survive without irrigation, but then there should be a good rainfall late in summer and autumn (February to April)

The best known grasses in this group are:

  • The winter cereals (annual).
  • Annual Rye grass (annual). 
  • Tall Fescue (perennial). 

Annual winter cereals (several species)

The annual winter cereals used for fodder crops are Oats (Hawer) Stooling rye (Stoelrog) and Triticale (Korog).These winter fodder crops can be divided into two different groups according to their growth habit. Some cultivars grow faster than others and they also differ in flowering behavior. The following two types are available: Short- and Long-duration types, as shown in the table below.

These grasses will grow in areas with a rainfall of higher than 650 mm, especially when part of it is during March/April. It is also important to plant on soils with a good moisture holding capacity. Shallow soils are not recommended. Under irrigation they also grow in low rainfall areas. The seedbed preparation for these crops, is very important. Remember these crops will grow in winter with moisture that was gathered during late summer and autumn. To maximize water conservation the seedbed should be kept weed free, with a rough surface for maximum water penetration, until planting.

These fodder crops are ideal for productive animals like dairy cows, growing fat lambs and beef cattle steers. But remember the areas where it could be planted under dry land conditions are very limited.

Seeding rate:

Oats: Dryland:  50 kg/ha Irrigation:  50 – 75 kg/ha

Stooling rye and Triticale: 25 – 50 kg/ha

Hay production: 3 – 10t/ha (dryland)   Grazing capacity: 1.5 – 2.5 MLU/ha/180days

Annual Rye grass

Annual rye grass can be divided into two distinct cultivar groups: 

  • Italian ryegrass, requires a long period of low temperatures to grow April to July. It will start flowering when it is cold in June/July, then growth slows down and it becomes less palatable. 
  • Westerwolds ryegrass will not flower when it is cold (mid-winter), but will go soon over to flowering in spring/early summer. It grows about the whole winter

The grass is ideal for dairy or sheep farmers, in a high rainfall area or under irrigation.  Seeding rate is10-20 kg/ha. Because it is an annual and it requires a high fertilization program, it is an expensive pasture. In the table below the different types and cultivars are shown

Italian rye grassWesterwolds rye grass
Needs low temperature to flower. In Nov/Dec (early summer) the days become longer than in winter, then flowering starts and growth stops
Autumn plant (Feb. – Apl).Autumn planting (Feb. – Apl).
Highest production in autumn/winter. Starts flowering in mid-winter, becomes then less palatable Grazing will be available from Apl/May until Nov/Dec. Best production mid-winter to early summer
Cultivars:Caversham, Enhancer, Concord, Dargle,  Barmultra ,  Turtetra, Jeanne (Parfait), VoyagerCultivars: Mispah,  Agrimix (early season), Barspectra, Caramba, Energa, Captain, Agreco,  Jivet.

Seeding rate:

15 – 20 kg/ha (Diploid cultivars)

25 – 30 kg/ha (Tetraploid cultivars)

Hay production: 8 – 16 t/ha         Grazing capacity: 3 – 5 MLU/ha for 180 days.


Tall Fescue (Langswenkgras)

Last but not the least! In areas with less than 700 mm rainfall, this perennial grass should be established under irrigation. Irrigation especially in winter and spring (June – September) and early summer. In all-year-round rainfall areas, with 700 mm and more per annum, it can be grown without irrigation. In SA that is only in the south-western Cape, in the rest of the country under irrigation. It can be established in April/May (or March in cold areas) and in September/October. One fact to remember is that its seedlings are sensitive to weed compition and for that reason establishment in autumn will be better.  Under wet conditions it can produce for 9 – 10 months of the year, with peak production in autumn and spring. High levels of fertilization should be applied. It grows well on loam and clay soils and can even withstand water logging.

Cultivars: Amelie for palatability and production, Barcel for palatability and Cajun for production.

Seeding rate:

15 – 20 kg/ha (rows)

25 – 30 kg/ha (broadcast, irrigation)

Hay production: 8 – 16 t/ha            Grazing capacity: 3 – 4 MLU/ha

Prof Chris S Dannhauser


Veld & Pasture consultant

Cell no (+27) 082 873 4736     E-mail: [email protected]

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