Evaluation of desho grass (Pennisetum pedicellatum Trin.) morphology, yield and chemical composition under irrigation in northwestern Ethiopia
The study on the effect of altitude and harvesting dates (HD) on forage morphological characteristics, yield, and laboratory quality of desho grass ( Pennisetum pedicellatum) was carried out during 2015/2016 under irrigation at Mecha (mid altitude) and Farta District (high altitude) districs, northwestern Ethiopia. The objectives of the study were to assess the optimum harvesting date (HD) and suitable altitude for maximum biomass yield and better nutritional value of the desho grass in the study areas. The HD used in the study was 75, 105 and 135 days after harvesting. The experimental design employed was factorial design with two factors altitude (mid and high) and HD (75,105 and 135). Morphological data collected from the desho grass were plant height (PH), number of tiller per plant (NTPP), number of leaves per plant (NLPP), number of leaves per tiller (NLPT), and leaf length per plant (LLPP). Chemical composition such as crude protein (CP), organic matter (OM), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF) were analyzed and dry matter yield was quantified. Plant characteristics such as PH, NTPP and NLPT were significantly (P< 0.001) affected by altitude and HD. The higher PH, NTPP, and NLPT were recorded in mid altitude location with increasing trends of HD. HD significantly (P<0.001) affected the NLPP, LLPP and biomass yield; with highest value recorded at 105, 135 and 135 dates, respectively. Chemical composition parameters were not significant (P>0.05) by altitude but CP, NDF and ADF were significant (P<0.001) by HD; the highest value recorded at 75, 135 and 135 dates, respectively. PH was significantly (P<0.01) and positively correlated with majority of plant characteristics. Therefore, it can be concluded from the study that desho grass could be a promising fodder grass in the study area can be produced as long as irrigation scheme are available. Overall, from the harvesting dates, the intermediate HD (105 day) could be selected for better CP without compromising the biomass yield as far as this experiment is concerned.