Silage Characteristics of Elephantgrass as Affected by Harvest Frequency and Genotype
- K. R. Woodard ,
- G. M. Prine and
- D. B. Bates
Elephantgrass (Pennisetum purpureum Schum.) was evaluated in the colder subtropics of Florida as a potential forage source for ruminants. Our objective was to determine if this thick-stemmed bunchgrass could be stored as silage. A dwarf (‘Mott’) and two tall (PI 300086 and ‘Merkeron’) elephantgrasses were harvested one, two, and three times per season and ensiled (direct-cut) during 1986 and 1987. Dry matter (DM) recoveries for all silages ranged from 861 to 984 g kg−1 of DM ensiled. Mean pH values ranged from 3.8 to 4.0 for tall elephantgrass silages made from plants harvested at the different frequencies. Highest pH values were obtained from silages made from immature dwarf elephantgrass plants harvested three times per year (2-yr mean was 4.3). Lactic acid was the major endproduct of fermentation in most silages with the exception of those acids were both major fermentation components. Butyric acid levels were negligible in all silages. In vitro digestible organic matter (IVDOM) concentration of silage was mainly dependent on that of initial forage at the time of harvest. Water soluble carbohydrate concentrations in fresh herbage (range: 26.2–83.7 g kg−1 DM) increased with more frequent harvesting. Buffering capacities Of fresh PI 300086 herbage were exceptionally low and increased with more frequent harvesting. The ease with which elephantgrass was preserved as silage was attributed to adequate levels of water soluble carbohydrate concentrations and inherently low buffering capacities in standing forages.
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