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Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science

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

Cuban J. Agric. Sci. vol.53 no.2 Mayabeque Apr.-June 2019  Epub Apr 01, 2019


Pasture Science

Study of morphoagronomic indicators of Cenchrus purpureus clones for biomass production

R. S. Herrera1  * 

Dayleni Fortes1 

M. García1 

Ana M. Cruz1 

1Instituto de Ciencia Animal, C. Central km 47½, San José de las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba


Using a randomized block design with four replications, clones of Cenchrus purpureus (CT-6, CT-9, CT-13, CT-15, CT-24 and CT-28) obtained by in vitro tissue culture were evaluated and compared with their progenitor (CT-115) in typical red Ferralitic soil, for two years without irrigation and fertilization. In both evaluation years during the seasonal periods the height differed (P<0.001) between the clones and the CT-28 surpassed the CT-115 was highlighted. There were differences (P <0.001) in the percent of DM and their values varied in narrow range (17-23 % and 19-21 % in the dry and rainy season, respectively). With the exception of CT-24, the rest of clones showed leaves contents higher than 50 % and differed among them, but the highest value (64.88 %, P <0.001) was showed by CT-28 during the rainy season. The leaves length varied (P <0.0001) between clones and CT-9 was highlighted in both years (73.73 and 84.23 cm for the dry and rainy season, respectively for the first year and 68.6 and 76.7 cm for similar stages of the second year). Similar response pattern was obtained in the leaf width. The leaf area also differed between clones and the highest values were recorded in the rainy season of both years. There were significant differences between the clones in the seasonal and annual DM yield and the clones CT-9, CT-15, CT-24 and CT-28 were highlighted. There were also significant differences in the population of the clones at the beginning and end of the experiment, but when comparing these two stages there were not variation and the values ranged between 5.43 and 9.49 bunches/5m. In general terms, the studied indicators varied when comparing the studied years. There is a group of clones with favorable characteristics for forage production, where CT-9 and CT-28 were highlighted. Future studies using strategic fertilization and irrigation of promising clones are suggested.

Key words: height; yield; leaves; population; leaf area


The cattle feeding in Cuba is based on the use of grasses and forages due to different reasons, among which can be mentioned: it is possible to grow them all year, when they are properly managed produce a high amount of biomass with appropriate quality, protect to the soil of erosion, they replace a certain amount of high-cost imported food and do not compete as a source of food with other animal species and even with man.

One of the species widely used as animal food in Cuba is Cenchrus purpureus determined by its ecological plasticity and high yields, due to its C4 photosynthetic path which efficiently converts light energy into biomass (Sage 2016).

On the other hand, in the Instituto de Ciencia Animal it has been worked on the improvement of C. purpureus through biotechnology applying in vitro tissue culture and physical mutagenesis. From this program, a group of clones with promising characteristics for forage, grazing, drought and salinity conditions were obtained (Herrera 2015, Herrera and Martínez 2015).

Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate some agronomic indicators of Cenchrus purpureus new clones, obtained by in vitro tissue culture at the Instituto de Ciencia Animal, with probable characteristics for biomass production.


Location, type of soil and climate. The experiment was carried out at the "Miguel Sistachs Naya" experimental station belonging to the Instituto de Ciencia Animal, located at 22º 53 NL and 82º 02 WL at 80 m o. s. l. The soil was typical red Ferralitic (Hernández et al. 2015).The rainfall during the experimental stage was 1234 mm and 80 % occurs during the rainy period, while the average annual mean temperature is 26 ºC, although in the dry season the value is lower (Herrera et al. 2018).

Treatment and design. A randomized block design, with four replications was used. As an experimental unit, the plot of 25 m2 was used. Six clones of Cenchrus purpureus obtained by in vitro tissue culture (CT-6, CT-9, CT-13, CT-15, CT-24 and CT-28) were evaluated and compared with their progenitor (C. purpureus vc Cuba CT-115).

Experimental procedure. The preparation of the soil was conventional (plowing, crossing and harrow). The experiment was sowing in the rainy season of 2015 and the plots were kept free of weeds until their establishment without the use of herbicides. Five-month-old seeds were planted in plots of 5 x 5 m, with sowing distance between furrows of 1 m and all the plots had equal number of buds.

After 120 days of establishment the establishment cut was made and the population was counted (number of bunches/5m). From then on, the samplings were made during the dry season every 90 days of regrowth and in the rainy period every 60 days for two years, under dry conditions and without fertilization. The cut was made with a machete at 10 cm above the soil level. The plot was cut leaving border effect of the external furrows, as well as 50 cm at the ends. All the cut material was homogenized, weighed and a random sample of 500 g was taken per plot. The sample was manually separated into leaves and stems which were introduced in an air circulation oven at 60 ºC to constant weight. The height, percent of DM of the whole plant, length of the fourth leaf completely open from the apex, width of the previous leaf in its middle part, leaf area of the referred leaf, leaves percent, DM yields and population according to Herrera (2006) methodology.

Statistical analysis. Analysis of variance (Visauta 2007) was performed according to the experimental design and the values represent the mean per cut in each seasonal period, except the total yield and the population. For the normal distribution of the data the Kolmogorov-Smirnov (Massey 1951) test was used and for the variances the Bartlett (1937) test, so that the population was transformed by square root of the observation. The mean values were compared according to Duncan (1955) test.


In all seasonal periods there were significant differences between the clones heights and there is a general tendency to decrease the height in the second year (table 1). Vieira da Cunha (2006) when evaluating clones and hybrids of Pennisetum sp. found variation in the height of each of them and attributed it to the specific characteristics of each plant and its response to climate, soil and management conditions. This performance was also reported by Herrera et al. (2012) when evaluating clones of Cenchrus purpureus which showed better agronomic indicators than their progenitor and attributed it to the recent preparation of the soil, the seed quality and the competition with weeds.

Table 1 Height of clones during the experimental period 

abcd Values with dissimilar letters per column differ at P<0.05 (Duncan 1955)

In both seasonal periods of the first year the DM percentage of the whole plant differed between clones and CT-24 highlighted, while, in the second year despite differing among clones, the values were in a narrower range with average value of 20 % (figure 1). This indicator is useful if the harvested biomass is used for the silage production, since it is a science that, in order to obtain quality silages, it is necessary that the material to be silage must have not less than 25 % of DM. Taking into account the above and considering the management conditions of this experiment, it is not advisable to directly ensile the biomass of these clones and it is necessary to pre-dry the green mass to increase the DM content.

Fig. 1 DM percent of the clones in both seasonal periods for two years 

The leaves content significantly varied between clones (table 2) and it was important to find values higher than 50 %, a quality that seems to beinhered from its progenitor (CT-115), which is characterized by its leafy character. This feature, join to its non-high height, makes it promising for the biomass production and had been previously obtained in clones that were obtained with better quality indicators and tolerant to drought and salinity (Díaz 2007 and Álvarez 2009).

Table 2 Leaf content of the clones during the experimental period 

abc Values with dissimilar letters per column differ at P<0.05 (Duncan 1955)

The length of the fourth fully open leaf significantly differed between clones in both seasonal periods in the two experimental years where CT-9 highlighted. However, the values of the second year were, in general, lower than those of the first year (table 3). Similar response pattern showed the leaf width (figure 2).

In both seasonal periods and during the two evaluation years, the leaf area of the fourth completely open leaf significantly differed between clones and CT-9 highlighted, the values of the rainy season were higher than the dry season and there was a certain tendency to decrease, in general, the values of the second year (table 4).

Table 3 Length of the fourth completely open leaf of the clones 

abcde Values with dissimilar letters per column differ at P<0.05 (Duncan 1955)

Fig. 2 Length of the fourth completely open leaf of the clones 

Table 4 Leaf area of the fourth completely open leaf of the clones 

abcd Values with dissimilar letters per column differ at P<0.05 (Duncan 1955)

Viera da Cunha (2006) when evaluating varieties of Pennisetum sp. showed that the height and density of the leaf blade were key indicators to describe and explain the variability between these plants, while Romalo Faca (2008), when studying 14 clones of this genus, reported the importance of the height and length of leaves, among other indicators, to establish the differences between them.

Fortes (2012) determined that the length and width of the leaf, leaf area and height of Pennisetum purpureum vc. Cuba CT-115 increased with the regrowth age, but these values decreased in the second year of exploitation in grazing and attributed it to the variations found in the content of chlorophylls and carotenoids in addition to the effect of climatic factors. Uvidia et al. (2014) reported that the characteristics of leaves, leaf area and height varied with the distance and sowing dose in Pennisetum purpureum, while Castañeda et al. (2015), Ray et al. (2016) and Olivera et al. (2017) when evaluating different varieties of this genus by means of multivariate analysis they found that the leafiness, length and width of the leaf and height were outstanding indicators to explain the variability between plants.

The DM yield differed between clones (table 5) and the highest values were recorded in the rainy season. It was noted that during the dry season of the first year the clones CT-9, CT-24 and CT-28 exceeded the yield of the progenitor, while, in the second year, in the same period all clones were higher than CT-115. This characteristic makes them promising for the biomass production in the period of low rainfalls and is an indicator of its possible drought tolerance, an aspect that should be studied in future researches.

Table 5 DM yields of the clones during the experimental period 

abcd Values with dissimilar letters per column differ at P<0.05 (Duncan 1955)

The performance of the measurements made in the fourth completely open leaf and its leaf area in relation to the DM yield attracted attention, since it was expected that its decrease in the second experimental year would lead to lower yield and this did not happen in a number of clones and agrees with that explained by Herrera (2018) who when studying the Pennisetum purpureum performance and climatic factors in a period of 40 years found that this plant increased its height but decreased its yield over the years. However, it would be important to study this performance related to photosynthetic pigments, since everything seems to show that there is a process which is related to the transformation efficiency of light energy in biomass through the photosynthetic pigments that must be studied.

Table 6 shows the performance of the population (bunches/5m) at the beginning and end of the experimental stage. In both cases there were significant differences between clones, but at the beginning of the experiment the CT-15 and CT-24 surpassed the CT-115, while at the end both clones and the CT-28 also did.

Table 6 Population (bunches/5m) at the beginning and end of the study 

abcd Values with dissimilar letters per column differ at P<0.05 (Duncan 1955).

( ) Real value

The results showed that there is a group of clones with appropriate characteristics for the production of forage biomass and of them the CT-9 and CT-28 were promising for their yields, especially in the dry season. In addition, its leaf content was high and it was notorious that these clones were not depopulated by the cut frequency used in the two studied years without irrigation or fertilization. However, it is necessary to performed future researches related to their possible drought tolerance, to know their quality indicators, apply fertilization and strategic irrigation, as well as to determine their performance in the performance of the animal that intake them.


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Received: November 21, 2018; Accepted: January 28, 2019

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