Typically warm-season grasses provide higher yields of poorer-quality forage than do the cool-season grasses. They require short, warm days for floral induction and produce several seed crops per year.
Tropical pasture grasses cover a wide range of species. The environments in which they are grown include the wet tropics, the semi-arid tropics and the arid zone. Most of the species are perennials and are characterized by possessing the efficient C4 photosynthesis pathway. They are primarily used by grazing animals for meat, milk, hide or fiber production or for draft animals in cropping areas. They tend to occupy the lower fertility soils not used for cropping.
Semi-arid and arid tropical environments are characterized by strong seasonality. Grasses grow rapidly following the onset of rains in the wet season. They mature quickly and, during the dry season, the standing forage is high in fiber and low in protein and minerals. The low nutritive value of the forage during the dry period is the major limitation to animal production in such environments.
Tropical species, unlike temperate species are sown when evaporation rates are high, and when probability of rain is often low The chances of adequate moisture being available in the top centimeter or two is much less than when sowing temperate species in the autumn/winter period.
Additionally, many of these species have low seedling vigor relative to sub clover, medic or Lucerne, and are therefore less forgiving of drying seedbeds, weed competition and deep sowing.
Despite these differences, the principles of establishment are similar, however the emphasis on some factors is greater to account for the drier, more hostile seed bed conditions.