R. Bras. Zootec.01/Jan/2008;37(1):18-26.
Evaluation of Panicum maximum cvs Mombaça and Massai under grazing
A new cultivar of Panicum maximum (Massai) was evaluated for commercial release, at the Embrapa Beef Cattle, Campo Grande, MS, Brazil, from November 1993 to April 1999. At establishment, 2,7 t/ha of lime, 400 kg/ha of 0-20-20 and 50 kg/ha of FTE were applied. Maintenance fertilizer was 200 kg/ha of 0-20-20 NPK and 50 kg/ha N, annually. The Panicum maximum cultivars tested were Mombaça and Massai. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with two treatments and two replicates. The paddocks (1.5 ha) were divided in six, and submitted to a rotational stocking with 7 days of grazing and 35 days of rest. Four steers (testers) were kept in each paddock for a whole year and additional steers were allocated and removed from each paddock to assure post-grazing residues higher than 2 t/ha of dry matter. All pastures were sampled, before and after grazing, to estimate forage availability, percentages of the morphological components and nutritive value. The animals were weighed each 42 days. Steers grazing Mombaça pasture performed better than those grazing Massai pasture, averaging 437 and 300 g/steer/day, respectively. However, the Massai pasture sustained higher stocking rate than the Mombaça pasture, with stocking rates of 2.15 and 1.86 AU/ha, respectively. This higher carrying capacity was not enough to compensate for the lower liveweight gain in the Massai pasture, resulting in lower productivity when compared to the Mombaça pasture, with averages of 626 and 691 kg/ha/year, respectively. The satisfactory performance presented by cv Massai, associated with other important characteristics of adaptability, attest the value of this cultivar as an alternative pasture for different beef cattle systems as well as a contribution to their sustainability.