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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.4 Mayabeque Oct.-Dec. 2019  Epub Dec 05, 2019



Yield components and bromatological composition of three Megathyrsus maximus cultivars in Guayas area, Ecuador

Y. Méndez-Martínez1 

J. J. Reyes-Pérez1  2 

R. A. Luna-Murillo2 

D.M. Verdecia3  * 

Marisol Rivero-Herrada1 

L.B. Montenegro-Vivas1 

R.S. Herrera4 

1Facultad Ciencias Pecuarias, Universidad Técnica Estatal de Quevedo (UTEQ), Quevedo, Los Ríos, Ecuador

2Universidad Técnica de Cotopaxi (UTC), Extención La Maná, La Maná, Los Ríos, Ecuador

3Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias, Universidad de Granma, Apartado Postal 21, Bayamo, C.P. 85 100, Granma, Cuba

4Instituto de Ciencia Animal, Apartado Postal 24, San José de las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba


With the objective of evaluating the yield components and bromatological composition of three Megathyrsus maximus cultivars in Guayas area, Ecuador at different regrowth ages, the research was carried out, following a random block design with factorial arrangement (3x3) with five replications. The productivity (yields of total dry matter, leaves, stem and biomass), morphological components (plant height, length and width of leaves, number of leaves and stems) were studied; as well as the contents of DM, CP, NDF, ADF, ADL, cellulose (Cel), hemicellulose (Hcel), cellular content (CC), P, Ca, ash, OM, DMD, OMD, ME, LNE and the relations NDF-N and ADF-N at the ages of 21, 42 and 63 days. Analysis of variance was performed according to experimental design. The highest yields of DM and biomass were obtained in Tanzania at 63 days of regrowth (2.74 and 8.25 t/ha, respectively). The highest DM and biomass yields were obtained in Tanzania at 63 days of regrowth (4.18 and 12 t/ha, respectively). The CP and CC decreased with the maturity of the plant and the best values were obtained in Tanzania at 21 days of regrowth (15.67 and 62.16 %, respectively), while the components of the cell wall increased with age and Tanzania showed the best values. There was significant interaction between varieties and maturity (P <0.0001) for all indicators. It is concluded that the studied varieties show adequate productive performance under conditions of low rainfalls. The Tanzania and Tobiata cultivars are a good option to replace the food deficit during the dry period due to its higher proportion of leaves, better relations NDF-N and ADF-N that give it higher quality.

Key words: yield; regrowth age; Megathyrsus maximus; chemical composition; digestibility; energy


Grasses are an appropriate source of nutrients, mainly in tropical countries; due to the number of species that can be used for this purpose, possibility of growing them all year, the ruminant ability to use forages; as well as non-competition as food for human. However, its low quality affects the obtaining of adequate productive results and its adaptability to prevailing environmental conditions in the various ecosystems, are some of the causes that limit the development of livestock (Abril et al. 2017).

To mitigate this situation, great efforts have been made in the introduction of new species and varieties with better performances. However, its growth, productivity and quality are unknown as the age of the plant increases in the current climatic conditions of Ecuador (Méndez-Martínez et al. 2018).

Megathyrsus maximus is a plant perfectly adapted to tropical conditions, although its production potential is affected by the prevailing environmental factors, when it is subjected to repeated cuts and nutrients that are extracted based on biomass production are not restored (Brant et al. 2017).

The study of the agro-productive and nutritive potentials of three Megathyrsus maximus cultivars (v. Common, Tanzania and Tobiata) introduced in Guayas area, Ecuador, in various edaphoclimatic conditions is of great importance, especially because of the great expectations that have been created by its greater agro- productivity and wide range of adaptation to different climatic regions, drought tolerance and its adaptability to a wide range of soils. These elements are very useful for the different specialists of the livestock branch of the region where these species are extended for its use in forage balances. Hence the objective of this study was to evaluate the yield components and bromatological composition of three Megathyrsus maximus cultivars in Guayas area, Ecuador at different regrowth ages.


Location. This research was carried out at the El Mamey farm, located in El Ají sector, Guayas Parish, Guayas province. Ecuador. It is located between the geographical coordinates 01 ° 00´ of south latitude and 79° 30 of west longitude at 75 m o.s.l. The study was developed in the period between July-September (dry season) of 2015.

Agrometeorological conditions. The climate of the territory is classified as humid subtropical (García 2004), with rainfalls of 117.2mm during the experimental period. The average, maximum and minimum temperature was: 23.87; 29.17 and 21.03°C; relative humidity 79 %, indicators that are within the range of the historical average until 2014 (116.32 mm; 22.4; 29.52; 21.1°C for the average, maximum and minimum temperature, respectively and 75.6 % relative humidity) the soil in the area is Inceptisol (Soil Survey Staff 2003) and its chemical composition is in table 1.

Table 1 Characteristics of the soil 

Indicator Value SD±
pH 5.47 0.03
N, cmolc kg-1 1.50 0.05
P, cmolc kg-1 5.1 0.2
K, cmolc kg-1 0.54 0.01
Ca, cmolc kg-1 1.50 0.05
Mg, cmolc kg-1 0.80 0.046
Sand, % 24.00 2.646
Loam, % 56.00 2.65
Clay,% 20.00 3.46

Treatment and experimental design. A randomized block design with factorial arrangement (3x3) was used: three Megathyrsus maximus cultivars (Common, Tanzania and Tobiata) and three regrowth ages (21, 42 and 63 days) and five replications.

Procedure. The experimental plots (5x5 = 25m2) were sowing in February 2015 of Megathyrsus maximus cultivars Common, Tanzania and Tobiata at a distance of 50 cm between rows and 20 cm between plants. The plants had a period of establishment until July, where the uniformity cut was made. From there, samplings at 21, 42 and 63 days of regrowth were made, eliminating 50 cm of border effect and cutting all the material from the harvestable area at 10 cm above soil level. The biomass production, yield in total dry matter, leaves and stems, number of leaves and stems (by bunch), as well as the length and width of leaves were evaluated (Herrera 2006). Then two kilograms (two samples) were taken for each of the treatments and for replication for further analysis in the laboratory.

Only irrigation was used to facilitate germination and establishment, and no fertilization or chemical treatment was used to eliminate weeds. At the beginning of the experiment, the population of the varieties in the plots was 97 %.

Determination of chemical composition. The DM, CP, ash, OM, P, Ca were determined according to AOAC (2016); NDF, ADF, ADL, cellulose (Cel), hemicellulose (Hcel) and cellular content (CC) according to Goering and Van Soest (1970); the digestibility of dry matter was quantified by Aumont et al. (1995) and the metabolizable energy and net lactation energy were established according to Cáceres and González (2000). All analyzes were performed in duplicate and by replication.

Statistical analyais and calculations. Analysis of variance was performed according to the experimental design and mean values were compared using Duncan (1955) multiple range test. For the normal distribution of the data the Kolmogorov-Smirnov (Massey 1951) test was used and for the variances the Bartlett (1937) test.


The best results of the productive indicators (table 2) were for Tanzania cultivar at 63 days with 2.74; 1.51; 1.23 and 8.25 t/ha for the total yield of leaves, stems and biomass, respectively. With interaction variety x regrowth age (P <0.0001) in all the studied indicators.

Table 2 Yield indicators of three Megathyrsus maximus varieties 

Age, days Varieties SE1 ± P
Common Tanzania Tobiata
Dry matter , t/ha
21 0.16g 0.24f 0.15g 0.008 0.0001
42 0.50e 1.25c 0.61e
63 1.05d 2.74a 1.48b
Biomass, t/ha
21 0.95g 1.06f 0.96g 0.011 0.0001
42 2.07e 4.26c 3.68d
63 3.67d 8.25a 5.25b
Leaves, t/ha
21 0.12h 0.19g 0.11h 0.005 0.0001
0.30f 0.83b 0.37e
63 0.50d 1.51a 0.77c
Stems, t/ha
21 0.04f 0.05f 0.04f 0.004 0.0001
42 0.20e 0.42d 0.24e
63 0.55c 1.23a 0.71b

abcdefgValues with different letters differ at P<0.05 (Duncan 1955)

1SE, standard error of the interaction variety x age

There were variety x regrowth age interactions for all morphological indicators (table 3). Where with 1.17m; 125.50; 75.50; 0.99 and 0.042m, Tanzania at 63 days showed the highest results for height, number of leaves, number of stems, leaf length and leaf width, respectively.

Table 3 Morphological components of three Megathyrsus maximus varieties 

Age, days Varieties SE1 ± P
Common Tanzania Tobiata
Height, m
21 0.74d 0.78d 0.75d 0.010 0.0001
42 0.83c 0.96b 0.86c
63 0.94b 1.17a 0.98b
Number of leaves
21 27.25g 26.50h 25.50h 0.057 0.0001
42 52.75f 58.25d 56.00e
63 77.00c 125.50a 106.00b
Number of stems
21 12.50f 17.50e 16.50e 0.692 0.0001
42 27.25d 39.00c 29.50d
63 35.50c 75.50a 66.50b
Leaf lenght , m
21 0.37f 0.43e 0.39f 0.007 0.0001
42 0.43e 0.58d 0.53d
63 0.86c 0.99a 0.93b
Leaf width , m
21 0.021d 0.027c 0.027c 0.001 0.044
42 0.028c 0.035b 0.034b
63 0.033b 0.042a 0.038a

abcdefghValues with different letters differ at P<0.05 (Duncan 1955)

1SE, standard error of the interaction variety x age

The crude protein and cell content at 21 days with 15.67 and 62.16 % showed the best results for Tanzanian and Common cultivars. While for the latter variety the cell wall components (NDF, ADF, ADL and Cel) were increased with the regrowth age with 69.35; 35.74; 5.63 and 30.10 %, respectively. The highest hemicellulose content (33.96 %) was recorded at 63 days in Tobiata (table 4)

Table 4 Protein content and fibrous fractionation of three Megathyrsus maximus varieties  

Age, days Varieties SE1 ± P
Common Tanzania Tobiata
Dry matter, %
21 19.66g 21.54f 23.76e 0.012 0.0001
42 27.24d 28.35cd 29.16c
63 31.87b 30.46b 33.64a
Crude protein , %
21 11.87c 15.67a 11.48c 0.008 0.0001
42 10.33e 12.52b 10.83d
63 9.13g 9.37f 9.23g
Neutral detergent fiber , %
21 37.84h 43.48f 39.66g 0.014 0.0001
42 55.16d 53.54e 55.77d
63 69.35a 65.25b 67.33c
Acid detergent fiber , %
21 19.27h 22.66g 25.53f 0.009 0.0001
42 30.56d 29.36e 30.83d
63 35.74a 32.74c 33.37b
Acid detergent lignin, %
21 2.43g 2.14h 2.33g 0.011 0.0001
42 4.13e 3.78f 4.55d
63 5.63a 4.67c 5.26b
Cellulose, %
21 16.85g 20.53f 23.19e 0.014 0.0001
42 26.43c 25.58d 26.28c
63 30.10a 28.07b 28.12b
Hemicellulose, %
21 18.57f 20.81e 14.14g 0.016 0.0001
42 24.60c 24.18d 24.94c
63 33.61a 32.52b 33.96a
Cell content , %
21 62.16a 56.62c 60.34b 0.014 0.0001
42 44.84e 46.46d 44.23e
63 30.65h 34.75f 32.67g

abcdefghValues with different letters differ at P<0.05 (Duncan 1955)

1SE, standard error of the interaction variety x age

For the content of ash, minerals and organic matter (table 5) there was interaction (P <0.0001) variety x regrowth age. With the highest percentages of ashes at 63 days (16.84) and 42 d P (0.37%) for Tobiata variety; while Ca (0.78 %) corresponded to Tanzania with 63 d and for Common with 21 days of regrowth OM (89.67 %).

Table 5 Minerals and organic matter of three Megathyrsus maximus varieties 

Age, days Varieties SE1 ± P
Common Tanzania Tobiata
Ashes, %
21 10.33f 12.50e 12.63e 0.01 0.0001
42 13.14d 13.55d 14.39c
63 15.45b 15.75b 16.84a
Calcium, %
21 0.47f 0.57e 0.56e 0.01 0.0001
42 0.73b 0.63d 0.72b
63 0.67c 0.78a 0.69c
Phosphorus, %
21 0.023e 0.027cd 0.026d 0.001 0.0001
42 0.033b 0.028c 0.037a
63 0.036a 0.033b 0.034b
Organic matter , %
21 89.67a 87.50b 87.37b 0.01 0.0001
42 86.86c 86.46c 85.61d
63 84.55e 84.24e 83.16f

abcdefValues with different letters differ at P<0.05 (Duncan 1955)

1SE, standard error of the interaction variety x age

For the quality indicators (table 6) there was variability between cultivars as forage maturity advanced for NDF/N, ADF/N advanced, DMD, OMD, ME and FNE relations. The best results were for Tanzania variety of 17.35 and 9.04 % at 21 days in NDF/N and ADF/N relations, the DMD and OMD (53.83; 54.32 %) at 21 days for Common and Tobiata cultivars, the energy contribution 7.97 and 4.55 MJ/kg (ME, FNE) at 21 days was better for the Common.

Table 6 Quality indicators of three Megathyrsus maximus varieties  

Age, days Varieties SE1 ± P
Common Tanzania Tobiata
NDF/N relation
21 19.52b 17.35a 21.60c 0.029 0.0001
42 33.36f 26.72d 32.19e
63 47.50i 43.52g 45.60h
ADF/N relation
21 10.15b 9.04a 13.90c 0.015 0.0001
42 18.48f 14.65d 17.79e
63 24.46i 21.84g 22.60h
DM digestibility, %
21 53.83a 51.35b 53.03a 0.006 0.0001
42 46.22c 46.93c 45.95d
63 39.97g 41.78e 40.86f
OM digestibility , %
21 55.11b 52.93c 54.32a 0.005 0.0001
42 47.63e 48.48d 47.40e
63 41.43h 43.21f 42.31g
Metabolizable energy, MJ/kg
21 7.97a 7.63b 7.84a 0.001 0.0001
42 6.80d 6.93c 6.76e
63 5.83g 6.11f 5.97g
Net lactation energy, MJ/kg
21 4.55a 4.31b 4.47a 0.001 0.0001
42 3.73d 3.83c 3.71d
63 3.05f 3.25e 3.15ef

abcdefghValues with different letters differ at P<0.05 (Duncan 1955)

1SE, standard error of the interaction variety x age


The productivity (table 2) had a marked effect of the regrowth age. Brant et al. (2017) when evaluating the Tanzania cultivar found biomass and dry matter yields of 23 and 8t/ha, respectively, results superior to those obtained in this study. According to Reis et al. (2013) and Bosi et al. (2014) the dry matter production is important to determine the adaptability of the species to the edaphoclimatic conditions. As stated by these authors, the plants depending on their characteristics have different levels of tolerance to these scenarios. However, in other studies where the species were subjected to shade levels up to 50 % show the drastic reduction in forage yield (Fernández et al. 2016).

Velasco et al. (2018), in Chiapas region, Mexico, reported when evaluating the effect of the regrowth age and the seasonal climatic effect on the yield of Mombasa cultivar higher productions in spring-summer than in autumn-winter (10; 12; 6 and 2 t/ha at 80 days of regrowth), stating that this seasonal performance had a direct relation with the accumulated rainfalls (59.6 mm) and the variations of maximum (32.8°C) and minimum (21.6°C) temperatures. Lemos et al. (2014), found in Tanzania cultivar 4.83; 2.33 and 1.52 tDM/ha for total yield, leaves and stems.

Seasonal and annual growth of morphological components in grass (table 3) is directly related to climatic conditions, soil fertility and management practices. The proportion of leaves, stems and roots that are generated by the genotype-environment interaction; these indicators result in forage yield. The knowledge of the influence of seasonality on the growth of species of interest, allows to identify the availability and, consequently, to adopt management strategies (Ojeda-Quintana et al. 2016 and Velasco et al. 2018).

Murillo et al. (2014), notified for cv. Mombasa increases in height at ages higher than 50 days of regrowth in all seasons of the year, which is related to the restriction of light that occurs in the canopy, when it is higher than 95 % of light interception, shading and basal leaves senescence causes an increase in the proportion of stems and dead material in the meadow. Aspects that coincide with the results obtained by Patiño et al. (2018) in Sucre, Colombia. Pereira et al. (2017), found heights for Tanzania and Aries cultivars of 2.66 and 2.62 m and the differences found between this study and the present research are due to the characteristics inherent to each hybrid.

The chemical composition (table 4) decreased with maturity, with variability among the evaluated varieties. Fernandes et al. (2016) reported for Megathyrsus maximus cv Tanzania fibrous component values (NDF, ADF, ADL) of 73; 37 and 6 % with the increase in the regrowth age, which associated this performance with the increase in the proportion of supportive tissue (stems). While, Fernandes et al. (2014) and Antonio et al. (2018) in Tanzania and Mombasa found concentrations of DM (15.5-18.8 %); CP (13.9-17.1 %); NDF (71.1-73.6 %); ADF (31.4-34.2 %); Lignin (3.5-5.2 %); Ash (7.9-8.1 %) and OM (85.6-88.4 %), which were influenced by increases on the physiological age of the plant and the levels of structural components of the cell wall.

On the other hand, Montalvão et al. (2018) reported contents of CP, NDF, ADF, ADL, HCEL and CEL of 10.2; 70.8; 46.6; 5.8; 24.2 and 40.7 %, respectively. Mojica-Rodríguez et al. (2017) when evaluating the effect of the regrowth age on the quality of Mombasa and Tanzania cultivars found from 21 to 63 days decrease of the CP from 5.5 to 5.9 percentage units, while for the cell wall there were increases for the NDF and ADF from 9 to 10.5 and 8.2 to 6.4 percentage units.

Although there was interaction variety x regrowth age for minerals and organic matter (table 5), the low values found in this study may be the product of the effect of low rainfalls during the study period (117.2mm) that allow minerals be unavailable to be absorbed by the roots of the plants (De Barros et al. 2017). Méndez-Martínez et al. (2018) and Montalvão et al. (2018) reported similar results with ash percentages (9-14) and OM (85-90) for this species. Concluding that the variability of these indicators depends on the characteristics of each species and the effect of edaphoclimatic conditions.

The quality (table 6) was affected by the increase in the maturity of forages, with decrease in DMD, OMD, ME and LNE; with increases in the relation NDF-N and ADF-N. Montalvão et al. (2018), obtained similar results in the relation between the fibrous fraction and nitrogen, stating that at a higher regrowth age there is a decrease in the percentage of leaves and increase in stems, and therefore low CP levels and high components of the cell wall affects the degradation of organic matter and energy contribution due to the lower efficiency of rumen microorganisms. In studies by Fernandes et al. (2016) there was a decrease in the dry matter digestibility, influenced by the increase in the fibrous faction and decrease in foliage and, consequently, the quality of biomass. On the other hand, Fernandes et al. (2014), reported for cv Tanzania digestibility of the dry matter and crude protein from 63.66 to 58.04 % and 54.1 to 56.31 %, respectively.

Antonio et al. (2018) reported increases in digestibility of DM, NDF, ADF, ADL, hemicellulose and cellulose of 1.7; 3.1; 4.7; 2.1; 2.3 and 4.6 % when using fibrolytic enzymes in Megathyrsus maximus vc Mombasa, stating that cellulose and hemicellulose are fermented by rumen microorganisms easily. However, as the lignin content increases, it joins to carbohydrates and the fermentation degree decreases, which can reach zero, depending on the intensity of lignification. Each type of lignocellulosic complex has a maximum degree of fermentation by microorganisms, and this maximum can be altered when the material is processed. The highest degradation of the fraction when enzymes are used in foods confirms that lignin is a degradation limiting factor.


It is concluded that the studied varieties have an adequate productive performance under conditions of low rainfalls. The Tanzania and Tobiata cultivars are a good option to replace the food deficit during the dry period due to its higher proportion of leaves, better NDF-N and FAD-N relations that give it a higher quality.


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Received: June 06, 2019; Accepted: June 20, 2019

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