Better Pastures for the tropics - banner


Rhodes grass
(Chloris gayana)

Rhodes - illustration  
  • tufted perennial with runners
  • suited to subtropics
  • moderate frost tolerance
  • combines well with many legumes
  • fast cover for erosion control.

Chloris gayana Kunth 1 Habit;
Ligule; 3 inflorescence; 4 spikelet

Rhodes grass forms strong bunch-type stools; its runners rapidly cover the ground surface, anchoring at the nodes and producing plantlets. Its vigorous root system gives a degree of drought resistance but it performs best in the 700-l,000 mm belt. Rhodes grass shows moderate frost tolerance, but is primarily a summer grower.

Rhodes grass is quite versatile in its soil requirements, although it grows best on softwood scrub red loams and the stronger brigalow soils. It is quite salt tolerant, and is one of the best grasses for sowing on earthworks. Rhodes grass will combine with siratro, stylo, lotononis and Wynn cassia in coastal and sub-coastal areas of higher rainfall, and with lucerne in inland districts.

Common rhodes grass or Pioneer rhodes is a short, early flowering variety. It is drought tolerant but not particularly palatable after seeding.

Callide and Samford rhodes are vigorous,`giant', tetraploid types; they are late flowering,and remain leafy and palatable into autumn. While more vigorous and palatable than Pioneer and Katambora, they demand higher fertility and may not persist as well on lower fertility soils. They are also less drought-tolerant than Pioneer in more arid districts. Seed production can be checked by the early onset of cool weather in inland areas of the subtropics. The seed of Callide and Samford has a longer awn than the other varieties, and this can made seed flow through machinery more difficult.

Katambora is a fine-leafed, mid-flowering variety with excellent stolon development. Being less demanding of fertility than the giant types, it persists for longer on typical speargrass country. It is also more cool-tolerant and shoots earlier in spring than Pioneer, Callide or Samford.

Katambora was originally selected for its nematode resistance for rotations in tobacco cropping, but there is considerable variation in resistance, and also in morphology. Katambora grown in the Callide Valley appears to be finer leafed than that from the Burnett.

Topcut and Finecut are cultivars selected from Katambora and Pioneer for hay production for the Middle East market. They have finer leaves and stems than Pioneer and are higher yielding.

Nemkat is a variety selected from a sample of imported commercial Katambora seed. Compared to commercial Australian Katambora, Nemkat is finer-stemmed, more stoloniferous and more uniform. It was identified as more reliably resistant than Katambora to all of the major nematodes that affect tobacco crops in northern Queensland.

Creator: Ian Partridge
Date created: 03 April 1998  Revised:15 January 2003

Better Pastures home page