Congo grass is a summer growing species yielding high amounts of biomass under high nitrogen supply. DM yield could exceed 20 t/ha in Australia and South America and up to 25 t DM/ha in Sri Lanka under 366kg N/ha fertilizer (Husson et al., 2008; Cook et al., 2005). In low fertile soils of Coronel Pacheco (Brazil) with no N fertilizer, Congo grass yielded only 6 t DM/ha. The biomass production could be up to 12 t DM/ha after 150 kg N fertilizer application (Cook et al., 2005). Biomass production is at its highest level during the second year of establishment.
Congo grass can be propagated both from root stock as well as from seeds (Urio et al., 1988). If propagation by seeds is intended, the dormancy of seeds will be stopped after 6 months storage after harvest. or by chemical scarification (
Seeds can be broadcast on a well-prepared seedbed and should not be buried deeper than 2 cm. Congo grass seedling vigour is high and thus prevents weed development (Husson et al., 2008). If Congo grass is vegetatively propagated, stem cuttings with rooting nodes are necessary. Congo grass requires good fertility status, it is thus important to provide N, P and K fertilizers prior to planting and along grass growth (Cook et al., 2005).
Once it is established, and provided it receives enough N fertilizer, Congo grass spreads readily. Congo grass flowers later than signal grass (Schultze-Kraft et al., 1992). It should be cut before first flowering and then at six week intervals (ILRI, 2013). When grazed, Congo grass withstands moderately heavy grazing (Cook et al., 2005).
Association with legumes
Congo grass can be grown in association with a wide range of legumes such as stylo (Stylosanthes guianensis), puero (Pueraria phaseoloides), greenleaf desmodium (Desmodium intortum), centro (Centrosema molle) or leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala). In association, congo grass should be heavily grazed so that the sward become open and allow legumes to establish and persist (Cook et al., 2005).
When grown in associtation with Stylo, it can be harvested together to make good quality silage (FAO, 2015). It was also possible to make pure Congo grass silage with formic acid addition, best quality was obtained at 2 l formic acid/tonne of fresh Congo grass (Lowilai et al., 2002)