Smutsfinger Grass

Smutsfinger Grass (Digitaria eriantha)

  • Well adapted to medium and low potential soils
  • Succesfull on soils with high clay content
  • Palatable until late in winter

    Requirements and uses

    • Areas with rainfall higher than 500 mm
    • Well adapted to medium and low potential soils
    • Successfull on soils with high clay content, but cannot withstand waterlogging
    • Mainly a pasture grass – utilized from mid summer and later
    • It is a sweet grass and keeps its palatability until late in winter – even after being killed by frost
    • Excellent as fodder
    • Good quality silage if its chopped fine enough
    • Invasion of Eragrostis can pose a problem for the lifespan of Smutsfinger grass



    • November, January and February best sowing months
    • Stop 8 weeks before the first frost is expected
    • Where weeds are not a serious problem, you can sow during September/October


    Irene: A diploid, tufted perennial with high palatability. Well adapted to most well drained soils and grows well in mixtures with Rhodes grass. Difficulties in seed production.


    Tiptop: A diploid, tufted perennial, selected from ‘Irene’ by ARC for seed quality, homogeneity of growth form (upright), early flowering, better leaf:stem ratio and rust resistance. It tolerates very cold winters and grows well on shallow, stony soils.



    Soil preparation

    • Soil surface must be dry. Germination will take place with first rains.
    • The subsoil must be wet. This will benefit if dry weather is experienced after germination.
    • The protein content and the digestibility also decreases with longer intervals, but the total protein/ha will be higher as an effect of the higher DM production.



    • Does not like heavy grazing
    • Prefer long rest periods
    • Should be grazed before piping for highest crude protein
    • Used in summer – CP about 10%
    • Used in winter – CP about 8%
    • Withdraw animals after December for winter usage


    Seed mixtures

    • Smutsfinger grass with Rhodes grass is 2 kg Rhodes + 4 kg Smutsfinger per ha
    • Works well with lucerne (in rows), bloating still a possibility
    • Four grass mix: Smutsfinger, Rhodes grass, Panicum maximum en Anthephora pubescens 1 kg each per ha for uncoated seed



    Sowing rate (uncoated)
    3 - 7 kg/ha
    Sowing rate (coated)
    12 - 20 kg/ha
    Subtropical Grasses

    Subtropical (warm season, C4) perennial grasses are traditionally grown in summer rainfall environments. However, they can be successfully grown in the Mediterranean environments due to a combination of drought tolerance and the mild winter conditions...