Hybrid Napier Grass (CO-4, CO-3)

Hybrid Napier Grass Cultivation as a Sustainable Self Employment for Livestock Farming


Deepalayam Dhanapalan (+91 9446802464)

.....Livestock farming will give more profit than Agriculture. But without agriculture, it will never give a coin. Now, it is our time to think about the INTERCROPING OF AGRICULTURE AND LIVESTOCK FARMING. Whatever the LIVESTOCK we prefer to rear, we should primarily bother about feeding them. To purchase all the ingredients of feed is unprofitable. So we should produce the feeding materials our own. CONCENTRATES AND ROUGHAGES are the two major components of livestock feeds. Roughages require in bulk quantity than the concentrates. That is why we cultivate fodder grass.

As the Hybrid Napier is one of the widely cultivated fodder grasses, in this introductory session the Package of Practices of the cultivation of Hybrid Napier Grass in 1 acre land is detailed.



CO-3 was developed by the scientists at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) at Coimbatore and released for commercial cultivation in 1997 (TNAU, 2003). Later Animal Husbandry Department, Govt. of Tamil Nadu has taken up activities to popularize this grass among farmers (Policy Note, 2005/2006). It is an inter-specific hybrid between Bajra (Pennisetum americanum L.) and a selection of a common Napier (Pennisetum purpureum  Schum.).


 (a) Napier grass

 (b) Bajra grass


.....Napier grass is also called as Elephant Grass due to its tallness and vigorous vegetative growth. The plants tiller freely and a single clump may produce more than 50 tillers under favorable climatic and soil conditions. Unfortunately, the grass coarse-textured, the leaf blade and sheaths hairy, leaf margins sharply serrated and stems less juicy and fibrous. In 1953, a cross was made in India between Bajra which is more succulent, leafy, fine-textured, palatable, fast growing and drought resistant and Napier to combine these qualities with its high yielding potential. 
Hybrid Napier is a perennial grass which can be retained on field for 2-3 years. Compared to Napier grass, Hybrid Napier produces numerous leaves. It has larger leaves, softer and less persistent hairs of leaf blades and sheaths and less sharp leaf edges. The stems are also less fibrous than Napier. The tillers are more numerous and grow faster (See figure 1).

FIG1 Figure – 1


FIG2 Figure – 2





It is one of the highest yielding perennial tropical fodder grasses and considered as cut-and-carry forage for stall feeder systems. The  characteristic features of CO-3 fodder grass are: profuse tillering, high yield potential, high dry matter and crude protein content, quick regeneration capacity, high leaf to stem ratio, high palatability, free from pest and diseases and low in adverse factors.


Climate and soil

....The grass grows throughout the year in the tropics. The optimum temperature is about 31° C. Light showers   alternated with bright sunshine are very congenial to the crop. Total water requirement of the grass is 800-1000 mm. Hybrid Napier can grow on a variety of soils. Light loams and sandy soil are preferred to heavy soils. The soil has as to be wet at the root zone but should not be stagnated.  The grass does not thrive well on water logged and flood prone lands. Phenomenal yield are obtained from very deep fertile soil rich in organic matter and nutrient elements. It tolerates a pH range from 5 to 8. 

Land preparation

.....Clearing of the bushes, removal of thorns, weeds etc. are must be done at the beginning. Hybrid Napier requires a deep, thorough, weed free and compact seed bed. One disc ploughing may be followed by two or three fork ploughing, leveling and removal of clods . Basal application of farmyard manure is done before the preparation of ridges. Ridges are made across the slope far as possible at a spacing of 60 cm with a height of about 25 cm which enables irrigation uniform and easy.    


.....Spread farmyard manure at the rate of 10 MT/Acre before ploughing. Apply fertilizer as per soil test recommendations. The standard recommendation for a barren land is as follows:
N:P:K @ 8:10:5 kg/Acre as basal application. The above fertilizer recommendation can be given at the time of the first weeding, normally30 days after planting.

Spacing and seed rate

.....The spacing recommended and adopted is 50 cm X 50 cm. 16000 cuttings are planted per acre.

.....Planting is done with the onset of monsoon or any time, if irrigation facility is available. Being a sterile hybrid, the grass is planted by rooted slips or by stem cuttings. Cuttings with 2 nodes from the middle portion of moderately matured stems (3 – 4 months old) are preferred. The cuttings are planted at a slanting position at one side of the ridges with one node buried in the soil (See figures below).  The underground node develops roots and shoots while the upper node shoots only.  The soil around the stem has to be pressed tightly for better root growth.     



Top dressing
.....Application of Nitrogen @ 30 kg/acre after every harvest with gentle raking of the soil produces more tillers. 

Irrigation and drainage
.....The field should be provided with good drainage during the rainy season as the crop cannot stand water stagnation. The first irrigation is done at the time of planting and the life irrigation on the 3rd day after planting. Frequencies of subsequent irrigations depend upon the rainfall and weather conditions. The standard irrigation interval during summer is 3-4 days (depending upon the soil quality).

Weed control
.....Weeding should be done within 30 days of planting and second weeding is essential only if there is heavy weed growth (See figure).

.....The first cut is taken from 60 to 75 days after planting. Subsequent cuts are taken after 30-45 days or when the plants attain a height of 1˝ m (See figure).  Annually at least 6 to 8 cuts are possible. The fodder has to be cut closer to the ground level for more profuse tillering. 




100  - 150  MT/acre/year  green  fodder  is  obtained  on  an average if it is cultivated as a single crop. Hybrid Napier can be cultivated as a single crop or intercrop with banana etc. (See figure above). Vegetative growth is reduced to dormant during winter.

Nutritive value (Approximately)
Dry matter                                16.20 %
Crude Protein                           9.38 %
Calcium                                    0.88 %
Phosphorus                              0.24 %
Oxalates (Max)                          2.97 %
Digestibility                               58.00 %


Herbage quality

Leaves (Foliages) are larger and greener, sheaths are softer, and margins are less serrated; so the herbage is more palatable. It is juicier and succulent at all stages of growth. It is less fibrous and more acceptable.

Cost of cultivation for 1 acre  (1st  year)

Land Preparation:



Disc Ploughing:

2 Hours X Rs. 350

= 700

Fork Ploughing:

3 Hours X Rs. 350

= 1050

Cleaning Stubbles and clearing clods:

5 Man days X Rs.150

= 750

Formation of ridges :

10 Man days X Rs.150

= 1500

Planting Cost :

5 Man days  X Rs. 150

= 750

Irrigation (Annum)

150 Man days X Rs.150

= 22500

Weeding after 30 days of planting:

20 Man days X Rs. 150

= 3000

Raking and earthing up 3 times a year:

30 Man days X Rs.150

= 4500

Harvesting 6 times a year:

15 Man days X Rs. 150

= 2250

Electricity & miscellaneous Charges


= 5000

Input Cost:



Farm Yard Manure:

10 MT X 1000

=  10000

Cost of planting materials:

17500 (Including mortality)
X Rs. 0.21

=   3675

Cost of Fertilizer:



Ammonium Sulphate:

38 kg X Rs. 6.00

=   228

Super Phosphate:

60 kg X Rs. 10.00

=   600

Muriate of Potash:

8 kg X Rs. 10

=   80

Urea (for top dressing):

65 kg X Rs. 8 X 3

=   1560 


=      58143


Cost of cultivation (2nd  and 3rd  year)

Irrigation (Annum):

150Man days X Rs. 150x2

= 45000

Raking and earthing up 6 times a year:

60 Man days X Rs. 150x2

= 18000

Harvesting 6-8 times a year:

25 Man days X Rs. 150x2

= 7500

Input Cost:

Farm Yard Manure:

10 MT x 1000 x 2

= 20000

Urea (for top dressing):

65 kgX3X Rs. 8 x2

= 3120 

Electricity & miscellaneous Charges


    = 10000



= 103620





1st   year:              Green grass from 0.5 acre:

50 MT x Rs. 1.2 / kg

=      60000

                                Sale of stem cuttings from 0.5 acre:

80000x 20ps

=      16000

Total                                                                                                                               =     76000


2nd  nand 3rd   year:

Green grass:

75 MT x Rs. 1.2 x 2 yrs

=    172800

Sale of stem:

(0.5 acre) 80000 x 20ps x 2 yrs

=      32000

Total                                                                                                                              =    204800


Fiscal Analysis for 3 years:


1st   Year

:Rs.        58143

2nd  + 3rd Years

:Rs.      103620 

Total                                                                                                                         :Rs.      161763 

1st Year

:Rs.        76000

2nd  + 3rd Year

:Rs.       204800


:Rs.       280800

Net Profit for 3 years (280800-161763)

:Rs.       119037

 Few important points  to be remembered:




Easy planting method This planting method is suitable and recommended for large-scale

establishments. Land should firstly be ploughed and harrowed up to 10-12 inches in depth. Cuttings are planted through furrows prepared next to harrowing. Single pit “Tambukiza” method This method is called “Tambukiza” and has been developed in Kenya for Napier grass planting and recommended for small-scale fodder planting (Tambukiza, 2002).


Figure 04: Single Pit “Tambukiza” method

Figure 05: Continuous pit “Tambikiza” method



Table 02: A fertilizer application program for CO-3 grass


Stage of application





Before or at planting


Organic manure

(compost, cow dung or poultry






7 –10 days after planting


Triple super phosphate

Muriate of potash












After 1st cut

(2 months after



Triple super phosphate

Muriate of potash









After each cutting

(30 - 45 days) intervals







Under average management conditions, 5 kg of green fodder per bush in every 30 - 45 days could be simply obtained.


CO-4 Yield Potential

: Throughout the year in all districts Hybrids recommended : CO-4



Plough with an iron plough two to three times to obtain good tilth.

25 t/ha

Form ridges and furrows using a ridger, 60 cm apart


i. Apply NPK fertilizers as per soil test recommendation as for as possible. If soil testing is not done, follow the blanket recommendations of 150:50:40 of NPK in kg/ha.
ii. Apply full dose of P,K and 50% N basally before planting. Top dressing of 50% N on 30 DAS.
iii. Repeat the basal application of 75 kg N/cut for sustaining higher yield
iv. Application of Azospirillum (2000g) and phosphobacterium (2000g) or Azophos (4000g) along with 75% of recommended dose of N and P fertilizers enhanced the yield besides saving of 25% of fertilizer dose.


i. Irrigate through the furrows and plant one rooted slip/stem cutting per hill.
ii. Spacing 50 x 50 cm and 40,000 planting material are required to plant one ha.
iii. As a mixed crop, 3 rows of Cumbu Napier Hybrid and one row of Desmanthus can be raised to increase the nutritive value.


Immediately after planting, give life irrigation on the third day and thereafter once in 10 days. Sewage or waste water can also be used for irrigation.


Hand weeding is done whenever necessary.


First harvest is to be done on 75 to 80 days after planting and subsequent harvests at intervals of 45 days yields around 400 t/ha.


400 t/ha

1. Quartering has to be done every year or whenever the clumps become unwidely and large.



Cost of CO4 Hybrid Napier grass slips

·        1 slip = Rs 0.40

·        1 acre requires 16,000 slips

·        ie Rs 6,400