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Home Farming Tips Major Diseases That Affect Napier Grass

Major Diseases That Affect Napier Grass

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Jolly Kabirizi

Napier Head Smut Disease

Napier head smut disease is a fungal disease which spreads rapidly by wind and infected planting materials. The lesion is brown to reddish brown, oval to long oval, 1-5x 0.5-2cm in size.

The inner parts of lesions frequently show zonation and the surroundings of the lesion turn yellow. Infected plants show thinner, shorter stems and produce few small leaves. The shoot becomes hard and flowers prematurely. The head turns into smut.

Recommended Napier head smut disease management practices include (a) growing resistant varieties; (b) using disease-free planting materials, (c) keeping the plants healthy by providing proper nutrients and, (c) avoiding using manure from livestock that has been previously fed with smut infected plants.

Snow Mold Fungal Disease

Snow mold fungal disease is caused by a fungus and affects most of the Napier grass varieties. It is caused by soil-borne fungi and is associated with prolonged cold drizzly weather.

It mostly appears at the peak of rains. The disease does not affect the vigour of the plants and feeding livestock on the diseased leaves has no adverse effect.

Napier Grass Stunt Disease

Since the late 2000s, Napier grass plants have been hit by a disease which stunts its growth and often kills the plants. The disease was first observed in Masaka district of Central Uganda. Napier grass stunt disease is a considerable and growing threat to livelihoods and the future of the smallholder dairy sector.

The disease has been spreading rapidly in many districts of Uganda. The most affected areas are districts in the Lake Victoria Crescent zone.

These are also areas with a high population of stall-fed (zerograzing system) dairy animals where Napier grass fodder is cut or purchased and carried to the animal.

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