Tropical Grasslands (2007) Volume 41, 260–268

Effect of defoliation interval and height on the growth and quality of Arachis pintoi cv. Amarillo


1 NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongbar, New South Wales
2 Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Mutdapilly Research Station, Peak Crossing, Queensland
3 University of Queensland, School of Agronomy and Horticulture, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia


The effect of defoliation on Amarillo (Arachis pintoi cv. Amarillo) was studied in a glasshouse and in mixed swards with 2 tropical grasses. In the glasshouse, Amarillo plants grown in pots were subjected to a 30/20°C or 25/15°C temperature regime and to defoliation at 10-, 20- or 30-day intervals for 60 days. Two field plot studies were conducted on Amarillo with either irrigated kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum) in autumn and spring or dryland Pioneer rhodes grass (Chloris gayana) over summer and autumn. Treatments imposed were 3 defoliation intervals (7, 14 and 28 days) and 2 residual heights (5 and 10 cm for kikuyu; 3 and 10 cm for rhodes grass) with extra treatments (56 days to 3 cm for both grasses and 21 days to 5 cm for kikuyu).
Defoliation interval had no significant effect on accumulated Amarillo leaf dry matter (DM) at either temperature regime. At the higher temperature, frequent defoliation reduced root dry weight (DW) and increased crude protein (CP) but had no effect on stolon DW or in vitro organic matter digestibility (OMD). On the other hand, at the lower temperature, frequent defoliation reduced stolon DW and increased OMD but had no effect on root DW or CP. Irrespective of temperature and defoliation, water-soluble carbohydrate levels were higher in stolons than in roots (4.70 vs 3.65%), whereas for starch the reverse occurred (5.37 vs 9.44%).
Defoliating the Amarillo-kikuyu sward once at 56 days to 3 cm produced the highest DM yield in autumn and spring (5832 and 7121 kg/ha DM, respectively), although the Amarillo component and OMD were substantially reduced. Highest DM yields (1726 kg/ha) were also achieved in the Amarillo-rhodes grass sward when defoliated every 56 days to 3 cm, although the Amarillo component was unaffected.
In a mixed sward with either kikuyu or rhodes grass, the Amarillo component in the sward was maintained up to a 28-day defoliation interval and was higher when more severely defoliated. The results show that Amarillo can tolerate frequent defoliation and that it can co-exist with tropical grasses of differing growth habits, provided the Amarillo-tropical grass sward is subject to frequent and severe defoliation.

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