|Pasture type and use||Perennial, spring/summer/autumn growing grass. Grazing, silage, hay, amenity (lawns, sporting fields, coast and inland irrigated).|
|Area of adaptation||Coast, Hunter, Metropolitan, irrigated areas.|
|Min. average annual rainfall||800 mm|
|Soil requirements||Medium to well-drained; high fertility. Highly tolerant of acid soil.|
|Varieties||Select varieties on the basis of propagation method and tolerance to kikuyu yellows.
|Sowing rates||Whittet: 1–4 kg/ha
Common: 1 cutting (runner) per square metre.
|Sowing time||Spring to early autumn, depending on district.|
|Companion species||Not compatible with other grasses. Italian ryegrass or oats often direct-drilled or surface-sown in autumn into suppressed kikuyu for year-round feed.
White clover, Kenya clover (Far North Coast).
|Major nutrient deficiencies||Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur.|
|Main insect pests||Army worms, sod web worms, african black beetle.|
|Main diseases||Kikuyu yellows, leaf spot.|
|Management||Graze to maximise leaf, minimise stem. Hard graze to 5 cm in height. If pasture height exceeds 15 cm, slash to 5 cm to remove stem and rank growth and to maintain quality.
Optimum quality coincides with the 4½ leaf stage of regrowth.Use adequate fertiliser, especially nitrogen, to promote quality growth for dairy production.
Hard grazing helps maintain white clover with kikuyu.
|Livestock disorders of particular note||Frequently hyperparathyroidism (‘big head’) in horses, occasionally nephrosis or hypocalcaemia in ruminants, due to oxalates. Occasionally nitrate poisoning.
Kikuyu poisoning — unusual disorder, but occurs sporadically in cattle, especially where rapid growth follows a protracted dry period.
|Additional tips||Quality, rather than bulk, is the key to high animal production from kikuyu pastures.|
Advice on livestock health disorders was provided by Dr Chris Bourke, Principal Research Scientist, NSW Agriculture, Orange. His contribution is gratefully acknowledged.
Photo: Warren McDonald, Former Technical Specialist (Pastures), NSW Agriculture, Tamworth