SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.50 issue1Physicochemical and biological indicators in silages of taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott) tubers for animal feedingCharacterization of grains and panicles quality of Cuban sorghum cultivars harvested at two grain vegetative stages and two harvesting season author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  


Services on Demand




  • Have no cited articlesCited by SciELO

Related links

  • Have no similar articlesSimilars in SciELO


Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science

Print version ISSN 0864-0408On-line version ISSN 2079-3480

Cuban J. Agric. Sci. vol.50 no.1 Mayabeque Jan.-Mar. 2016


Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, 50(1): 131-137, 2016, ISSN: 2079-3480




Evaluation of three varieties of Megathyrsus maximus in the dry period


Evaluación de tres variedades de Megathyrsus maximus en el período poco lluvioso



Dayleni Fortes,I Daiky Valenciaga,I C.R. García,I M. García,I Ana M. Cruz,I Aida Romero,I

IInstituto de Ciencia Animal, Apartado Postal 24, San José de Las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba.




To characterize morphoagronomical and quality indicators of Megathyrsus maximus cv. Likoni, Mombaza and Tanzania in the dry period, a random block design with five replications and three treatments which corresponding to the studied varieties was used. Plots of 5x7 m were sown and the cutting height was of 10 cm above soil level. The study was developed during two consecutive years. The determined indictors were: dry matter content of the whole plant, height, dry matter yield, morphological composition, length and width of leaves, number of tillers and number of plants/m2. The quality indicators of plants were also analyzed: crude protein, neutral detergent fiber and acid detergent fiber. Mombaza and Tanzania had the highest yields (P < 0.001) during the first year, with values of 3.84 and 3.94 t/ha, respectively, while Likoni and Tanzania showed the highest yields(P < 0.001)  in the second year (2.49 and 2.46 t/ha, respectively). The Likoni variety showed the lower (P < 0.001) leaves percentage (65.42 % and 67.84 %) and higher (P < 0.001) of stems (34.58 % and 20.47 %) during the first and second year, respectively. The quality indicators: crude protein, EE, neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber, lignin, cellulose, hemicelluloses and in vitro dry matter digestibility showed no differences between varieties. It is concluded that the plants studied had an adequate agroproductive performance under the edphoclimatic and management conditions in which the study was carried out. The Mombaza and Tanzania varieties are a good option to counteract the lack of food in the dry period because of its higher leaves proportion, which provides a higher quality to the food.

Key words: Megathyrsus, quality, morphoagronomical performance, dry period.


Para caracterizar indicadores morfoagronómicos y de calidad de Megathyrsus maximus vc. Likoni,  Mombaza y Tanzania en el período poco lluvioso, se utilizó un diseño de bloques al azar con cinco réplicas y tres tratamientos que se correspondieron con las variedades estudiadas. Se sembraron parcelas de 5 x 7 m y la altura de corte fue de 10 cm sobre la superficie del suelo. El estudio se desarrolló durante dos años consecutivos. Los indicadores determinados fueron: contenido de materia seca de la planta íntegra, altura, rendimiento de materia seca, composición morfológica, largo y ancho de hojas, número de hijos y número de plantas/m2. Se analizaron además, indicadores de calidad de las plantas: proteína bruta, fibra neutro detergente y fibra ácido detergente. Mombaza y Tanzania tuvieron los mayores rendimientos (P < 0.001) durante el primer año, con valores de 3.84 y 3.94 t/ha, respectivamente, mientras que en el segundo año Likoni y Tanzania mostraron los mayores (P < 0.001) rendimientos (2.49 y 2.46 t/ha, respectivamente). La variedad Likoni mostró el menor (P < 0.001) porcentaje de hojas (65.42 % y  67.84 %) y mayor (P < 0.001) de tallos (34.58 % y 20.47 %) durante el primero y segundo año, respectivamente.  Los indicadores de la calidad: proteína bruta, EE, fibra neutro detergente, fibra ácido detergente, lignina, celulosa, hemicelulosa y digestibilidad in vitro de la materia seca no mostraron diferencias entre variedades. Se concluye que las plantas estudiadas tuvieron comportamiento agroproductivo adecuado en  las condiciones edafoclimáticas y de manejo en las que se desarrolló el estudio. Las variedades Mombaza y Tanzania constituyen una buena opción  para contrarrestar el déficit de alimentos del período seco por su mayor proporción de hojas, lo que le brinda una mayor calidad al alimento.

Palabras clave: Megathyrsus, calidad, comportamiento morfoagronómico, período poco lluvioso.




Cuban livestock needs a feeding basis that facilitates the cattle to express their best production potential. Therefore, there must be count with species and varieties with high biomass production and quality, especially in the dry season, in which there is a great lack of food.

The plants of Megathyrsus genus are characterized by their great biomass and quality production potential (Medinilla 2012).That is why the varieties Megathyrsus maximus vc. Mombaza and Tanzania were introduced in Cuba, with the purpose of having species that increase the possibilities of feeding self-sufficiency in the cattle units. These could help to mitigate the need of food that cattle have, mainly in the dry season. However, their performance under the edaphoclimatic conditions of the western region of the country is unknown.

The objective of this research was to characterize the morphoagronomical and quality indicators of Megathyrsus maximus cv. Likoni, Mombaza and Tanzania, in the dry period.



Location, climate and soil. The research was carried out at the Experimental Center of Pastures and Forages “Miguel Sistachs Naya” of the Instituto de Ciencia Animal de la República de Cuba (ICA). The soil of the experimental area is red ferrallitic (Hernández et al. 2015).

In figure 1 is show the performance of the climatic variables during the two experimental years, according to data from the Meteorological Station of the Instituto de Ciencia Animal. In the evaluated period (October-April), the precipitations values during the first year were below 53 mm, with five rainy days as average, the minimum temperatures were approximately 16 °C and maximum were next 27 °C. The mean temperature was 21.6 °C. During the second year, precipitations were even scarcer, with 36 mm in the studied period, and less than two days with rain. The minimum and mean temperatures were also lower, with an average of 13.9 °C and 20.6 °C, respectively, while the maximum temperature was maintained at 27 °C.

Treatment and design. A random block design with five replications was used. Treatments consisted on the three varieties: Megathyrsus maximus cv. Likoni, Mombaza and Tanzania.

Procedure. The experiment was established in the rainy season of 2009. A conventional soil preparation was made, consisting on plough and harrow, with alternative sweeps of mean harrow and plots were maintained clean until their establishment. Plots of 5 x 7 m were sown at a 70 cm sowing distance between rows. The sowing rate was 8.0 kg/ha of a seed with 80% of germination at the sowing time. The study was developed in the dry period, during two consecutive years, from 2010.Two cuttings were carried out in this period, which were performed every 90 d. Cutting height was of 10 cm regarding soil level.  A fertilization of maintenance was made, with 50 kg/ha of N as urea in the rainy period. Irrigation was not applied in the two study years.

Measured indicators. In each cutting were taken the indicators dead matter (DM) content of the whole plant, height (cm), morphological composition (percentage of leaves, steams and MM), DM yield, length and width of leaves. In the second year of study the number of tillers/plant and number of plants per square meter were also measured, which were transformed according to √X.  Plant height was determined with a graduated rule, from soil level to the point where the flag leaf bends. Five plants were taken at random per replicate.

 For determining yields and their components, complete plot harvesting was carried out. Later, 200 g of the sample were weighed; leaves were separated from the stems and weighed separately, for determining leaf and stem yields, as well as their proportion. The dry matter percentage was determined by an air recirculation oven during 72 h, at 60º C, according to the Herrera (2007) methodology.

For data processing, the DM yield of the two cuts made in the evaluation period for each year of study was added. For other indicators, cuts values were averaged.

Chemical analysis. The dry matter(DM), crude protein(CP) and ether extract (EE) was determined, according to AOAC (2000).The neutral detergent fiber(NDF), acid detergent fiber( ADF), lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose, were determined according to Goering and van Soest (1970). The analyses were performed to samples taken in February cut, which is representative of the dry period (Herrera et al. 2014).

To determine the in vitro true digestibility of dry matter (IVTDDM), the protocol recommended for  the incubator DaisyII® (ANKOM Technology, Fairport, NY-USA), as defined by ANKOM Technology (2014) was followed. Samples were incubated during 48h in the DaisyII® for in vitro digestibility, at a temperature of 39.2 ± 0.5 °C, with constant circular agitation. After incubation, they were washed with cold water to stop fermentation. Incubation residues were in a neutral detergent solution at 100 °C for one hour. They included three successive washes with water at 90 °C and were dried in forced air oven at 105 °C for a minimum of two hours. Subsequently, the bags were weighed to obtain results in terms of in vitro true digestibility of DM (IVTDDM).

All chemical analyzes were performed during the second year of study, in duplicate, per treatment and replication.

Statistical analysis. A variance analysis was applied, according to experimental design. The program SPSS, version 14.0.1 (IBM Corporation 2006) and Duncan (1955) test was used for mean comparison in the necessary cases.



Table 1 show the performance of the agronomical indicators for the dry period. In the first year, there was no differences in the DM percentage between varieties, while in the second year, the highest DM percentage (P <0.001) was for Mombaza. The DM yields had variable performance, because during the first year Tanzania and Mombaza showed the highest yields (3.94 and 3.89 t/ha, respectively), while in the second was Likoni and Tanzania, with 2.49 and 2.46 t/ha, respectively. Tanzania variety showed good performance during the two experimentation years, which could be due to a better response to the  climate adverse effects, such as low temperatures and the amount of precipitations occurred during this climatic period (figure 1). Verdecia et al. (2008) found similar values of this indicator in Tanzania variety during the dry period in the eastern of Cuba. Homen et al. (2010) also found values of 2 to 3 tDM/ha.

Santos et al. (2011) stated that productivity and quality of grasses are affected by environmental factors, as temperature, solar radiation and precipitations, joined to intrinsic factors of the plant. The temperature and water availability limit the proper growth and grasses quality, besides to affect their morphological, physiological and biological structure. This could be the cause of the low yields of this period, in which the climate factors limit the forage productivity. Moreover, as it was explained irrigation was not used in the experiment.

Ramirez et al. (2010) found that the yield of forage of Mombaza grass during the rains was 559 % higher, compared with the yield during drought. This shows the negative effect of low precipitations and low temperatures in biomass production of these varieties.

Leaves percentage was higher in Tanzania and Mombaza varieties. The opposite occurred with the stems during the two evaluation years. If it is consider that animals mainly intake the leaf fraction (provided there is an adequate availability), the results suggest that Mombaza and Tanzania have the highest leaves proportion available for animal intake, which makes them promising on cattle feeding.

Height, length and width of leaves during the dry period did not show significant differences between varieties during the first experimental year (table 2). However, in the second, Mombaza showed lower height than Likoni and Tanzania. The highest values of leaf length were for Mombaza and Tanzania during the second year of study. This result could favor the biomass production in the plant, it could correspond with a greater leaf area which favors the light energy uptake and the transformation into chemical energy and biomass (Taíz and Zeiger 2010).

Tillering during the second year showed a similar performance for the three varieties studied. However, the number of plants/m2 was lower in Tanzania, showing that the low temperatures and precipitations in the dry season (figure 1) could influence on the plants population of this variety in the plots studied.

In table 3 is shows the chemical composition of the varieties studied in the dry season. The results indicated that the contents of CP, EE, NDF, ADF, hemicellulose, cellulose, lignin and IVIDDM in Likoni were similar to the evaluated cultivars Mombaza and Tanzania.

In this regard, Moreno (2004) states that when the nutritional value of forage is compared, the variability is low between cultivars and even between species and genus of tropical grasses in relation to differences between physiological ages. This makes difficult the comparison of the results available in the literature that, mostly, comes from the analysis of collected forages in different physiological ages (different growth periods).

Under the edaphoclimatic conditions of livestock areas in Jimaguayú, Camagüey, Cruz et al. (2012) obtained higher results (P≤0.05) in CP content in Megathyrsus maximus cv. Mombaza regarding Tanzania, when cuts every 90 d were made. This different performance in both studies could be due to the edaphoclimatic differences in both regions of the country. Lazarin (2013), when performing the nutritional evaluation of different tropical grasses species in Veracruz, Mexico, obtained CP and IVTDDM contents for Mombaza similar to those of this study.

The CP and IVTDDM values of leaves were higher than the stems. The opposite occurred with the NDF, ADF, hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin. Alves de Brito et al. (1999) quantified the percentage of different structural tissues present in the leaf and stem, and found higher proportions of vascular tissue with sclerenchyma and parenchyma lignified in stems with respect to leaf blade and leaf sheath, which have high epidermal tissues proportions.

The IVTDDM lower values of stems are related to the content of the cell wall components, that favors great formation of covalent links of the lignin with the structural carbohydrate of the cell wall and limit their digestion (Villareal et al. 2014).

It is concluded that the studied varieties showed good agroproductive performance under the edaphoclimatic and management conditions used. The Mombaza and Tanzania varieties are a good option to counteract the lack of food of the dry period, due to its higher leaves proportion, which provides higher quality to the food.

It is recommended the use of Mombaza and Tanzania in the dry season and the evaluation of all studied varieties with the use of irrigation and fertilizers to get higher yields. In addition, it should continue the nutritional value studies of these cultivars under different edaphoclimatic conditions and in both climatic periods, so that their use can be recommended according to the conditions of each region.



Alves de Brito, C. J. F., Rodella, R. A., Deschamps, F. C. & Alquini, Y. 1999. ‘‘Quantitative anatomy and in vitro tissue degradation in elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach.) cultivars’’. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 28 (2), pp. 223–229, ISSN: 1516-3598, DOI: 10.1590/S1516-35981999000200001.

ANKOM Technology. 2014. Neutral Detergent Fiber in Feeds-Filter Bag Technique (for A200 and A2 00I). no. NDF Method 6, Inst. ANKOM Technology, USA, Available: <>, [Accessed: February 12, 2014].

Cruz, M. C., Rodríguez, L. C., Viera, R. G., Mouso, J. P., Cabrera, D. M., Escobar, Y. T., Pérez, L. E. R., Hernández, M. P., Cuza, L. F. & Socarrás, Y. C. 2012. ‘‘Evaluación agronómica de tres gramíneas bajo condiciones edafoclimáticas’’. Revista Producción Animal, 24 (2), ISSN: 0258-6010, Available: <>, [Accessed: February 12, 2016].

Duncan, D. B. 1955. ‘‘Multiple Range and Multiple F Tests’’. Biometrics, 11 (1), pp. 1–42, ISSN: 0006-341X, DOI: 10.2307/3001478.

Goering, H. K. & Soest, P. J. V. 1970. Forage Fiber Analyses (apparatus, Reagents, Procedures, and Some Applications). (ser. Agriculture handbook, no. ser. 379), U.S. Agricultural Research Service, 24 p., Available: <>, [Accessed: February 12, 2016].

Hernández, A., Pérez, J., Bosch, D. & Castro, N. 2015. Clasificación de los suelos de Cuba 2015. Mayabeque, Cuba: Ediciones INCA, 93 p., ISBN: 978-959-7023-77-7.

Herrera, R. S. 2007. ‘‘La muestra y su procesamiento en los experimentos de evaluación’’. In: II Congreso Internacional de Producción Animal Tropical, La Habana, Cuba: Instituto de Ciencia Animal, ISBN: 978-959-7171-12-6.

Herrera, R. S., Martínez, R. O., Martínez, M., Tuero, R., Cruz, A. M. & Romero, A. 2014. ‘‘Frecuencia de corte en indicadores de calidad de variedades de Pennisetum y Saccharum durante el período poco lluvioso’’. Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, 48 (2), pp. 159–166, ISSN: 2079-3480.

Homen, M., Entrena, I., Arriojas, L. & Ramia, M. 2010. ‘‘Biomasa y valor nutritivo del pasto Guinea Megathyrsus maximus (Jacq.) BK Simon & SWL Jacobs.‛ Gamelote’en diferentes períodos del año en la zona de bosque húmedo tropical, Barlovento, estado Miranda’’. Zootecnia Tropical, 28 (2), pp. 255–266, ISSN: 0798-7269.

IBM Corporation. 2006. IBM SPSS Statistics. version 14.0.1, [Windows], U.S, Available: <>.

Lazarin, Z. 2013. Evaluación nutricional de pastos tropicales según la estructura del CNCPS. Graduate Theses, Universidad Veracruzana, Veracruz,  México, 104 p.

Medinilla, L. 2012. Crecimiento, productividad y calidad de Megathyrsus maximus bajo cobertura arbórea de Gliricidia sepium. Master These, Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, México, 115 p.

Moreno, L. S. B. 2004. Produção de forragem de capins do gênero Panicum e modelagem de respostas produtivas e morfofisiológicas em função de variáveis climáticas. Master Science Thesis, Escuela Superior de Agricultura ‘Luiz de Queiroz’, Universidad de Sao Paulo, Brasil.

Ramírez, R. O., Garay, A. H., Silva, S. C. da, Pérez, J. P., Júnior, S. J. de S., Rivera, R. C. & Quiroz, J. F. E. 2010. ‘‘Características morfogénicas y su influencia en el rendimiento del pasto mombaza, cosechado a diferentes intervalos de corte’’. Tropical and Subtropical Agroecosystems, 12 (2), pp. 303–311, ISSN: 1870-0462.

Santos, M. C. S., Lira, M. A., Tabosa, J. N., Mello, A. C. L. & Santos, M. V. F. 2011. ‘‘Response of Pennisetum clones to periods of controlled hidric restriction.’’. Archivos de Zootecnia, 60 (229), pp. 31–39, ISSN: 0004-0592.

Taiz, L. & Zeiger, E. 2010. Plant Physiology. 5th ed., Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc., 782 p., ISBN: 978-0-87893-866-7.

Verdecia, D. M., Ramírez, J. L., Leonard, I., Pascual, Y. & López, Y. 2008. ‘‘Rendimiento y componentes del valor nutritivo del Panicum maximum cv. Tanzania’’. REDVET. Revista Electrónica de Veterinaria, 9 (5), pp. 1–9, ISSN: 1695-7504.

Villareal, G. J. A., Hernández, G. A., Martínez, H. P. A., Rodríguez, G., de Dios, J., Zebadúa, V. & Eugenia, M. 2014. ‘‘Rendimiento y calidad de forraje del pasto ovillo (Dactylis glomerata L.) al variar la frecuencia e intensidad de pastoreo’’. Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Pecuarias, 5 (2), pp. 231–245, ISSN: 2007-1124.

Horwitz, W. (ed.). 2000. Official Methods of Analysis of AOAC International. (ser. Official Methods of Analysis of AOAC International), 17th ed., AOAC International, 2200 p., ISBN: 978-0-935584-67-7.



Received: December 8, 2014
Accepted: March 10, 2016



Dayleni Fortes, Instituto de Ciencia Animal, Apartado Postal 24, San José de Las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba. Email:

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License