Anthephora pubescens Nees

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Graminae

Common names

Wool grass (Australia).

Description

It is a leafy, palatable, perennial tussock grass.

Distribution

Africa and Australia.

Season of growth

Summer.

Rainfall requirements

In South Africa it occurs in the 250-650 mm rainfall areas, most common in the 350 mm area.

Drought tolerance

Excellent.

Soil requirements

Suited to the lateritic red earth soils and sandy soils with a pH range of 6-7. It will not grow on heavy soils (Smith, personal communication).

Ability to spread naturally

Poor.

Land preparation for establishment

It requires some rough soil disturbance.

Sowing methods

Broadcast the seed.

Sowing depth and cover

It is surface sown and uncovered in western Queensland.

Sowing time and rate

Sow just before the wet season at 4 kg/ha.

Number of seeds per kg.

It varies considerably, with an average of about one million caryopses or 125 000 spikelets.

Response to defoliation

It can stand some grazing, but during severe grazing tillers can be pulled from the ground.

Response to fire

Fire has little adverse effect on regrowth; it stimulates seed production in South Africa and at Charleville, south-western Queensland.

Dry-matter and green-matter yields

On sandy, lateritic red earths at Charleville its yield over four years ranged from 1 555-3 980 kg/ha with a mean of 2 898 kg/ ha. From one harvest on heavy soil the yield was 1 330 kg/ha per year.

Seed yield

Varies enormously. From one hand harvest at Charleville the spikelet yield was 175 kg/ha (Smith, personal communication).

Palatability

It is very palatable and is sought by domestic animals and wildlife.

Chemical analysis and digestibility

At Charleville, material growing on sandy lateritic red earth contained 1.08 percent N and 0.07 percent P. Göhl (1975) gives the analysis in Table 15.3.

Natural habitat

Widely distributed in Africa on sandy subtropical soils.

Tolerance to flooding

It will not tolerate flooding.

Fertilizer requirements

It responded to superphosphate at 250 kg/ha on a lateritic red earth soil at Charleville, Queensland (lat. 26°4'S, altitude 980 m and rainfall 450 mm) (Silcock, 1976). In South Africa it responds to lime or superphosphate (at 140 kg/ha) on acid sandy soils.

Genetics and reproduction

It is apomictic.

Seed production and harvesting

Severe chipping or burning prior to growing the seed crop increases seed production. The seed-heads are clearly exserted well above the leaf growth, making mechanical harvesting attractive. The seed on each head ripens fairly evenly and can all be harvested at once. Emergence of seed-heads continues for about a month, with a peak seven days after the first heads emerge, followed by a long tailing off period. Ripe seed can usually be harvested 28-32 days after emergence of the seed-head (33-39 days after first head emergence). With adequate water and fertilizer, seed can be harvested twice a year, once in early summer and once in autumn.

Economics

It is a useful grazing grass in South Africa in low rainfall sandy areas, and shows promise for sandy lateritic mulga (Acacia aneura) soils in south-western Queensland (altitude 325 m; lat. 26°4'S and average annual rainfall 450 mm).

Further reading

Silcock, 1976.

Dormancy

There is some post-harvest dormancy for about nine months. Dehusking greatly improves germination (Smith, personal communication).