Citation
Biomass yield and silage characteristics of elephantgrass (Pennisetum purpureum Schum.) as affected by harvest frequency and genotype

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Title:
Biomass yield and silage characteristics of elephantgrass (Pennisetum purpureum Schum.) as affected by harvest frequency and genotype
Creator:
Woodard, Kenneth Robert, 1954-
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
xii, 98 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Agronomy thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Agronomy -- UF
Energy crops ( lcsh )
Pennisetum purpureum ( lcsh )
Silage ( lcsh )
City of Gainesville ( local )
Biomass ( jstor )
Forage ( jstor )
Research methods ( jstor )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1989.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 93-97).
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
General Note:
Includes abstract.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Kenneth Robert Woodard.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
022104117 ( ALEPH )
22460880 ( OCLC )
AHG1232 ( NOTIS )
AA00004788_00001 ( sobekcm )

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Full Text











BIOMASS YIELD AND SILAGE CHARACTERISTICS OF ELEPHANTGRASS (Pennisetum
purpureum SCHUM.) AS AFFECTED BY HARVEST FREQUENCY AND GENOTYPE












BY

KENNETH ROBERT WOODARD


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY



UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1989




BIOMASS YIELD AND SILAGE CHARACTERISTICS OF ELEPHANTGRASS (Pennisetum
purpureum SCHUM.) AS AFFECTED BY HARVEST FREQUENCY AND GENOTYPE
BY
KENNETH ROBERT WOODARD
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


Dedicated to my parents
Mark and Mozelle Woodard


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The author wishes to express his sincere gratitude to Dr. Gordon
M. Prine, Professor of Agronomy and chairman of the supervisory
committee, for his support and guidance throughout the research
program and for review of this manuscript. Appreciation is further
extended to the members of the supervisory committee, Dr. Douglas B.
Bates and Dr. William E. Kunkle, Assistant and Associate Professors of
Animal Science, and Dr. Loy V. Crowder and Dr. Stanley C. Schank,
Professors of Agronomy, for their contributions to the research
program and manuscript reviews.
Special thanks are given to Thomas Burton and Anthony Sweat for
assisting the author in several phases of this study.
The author wishes to recognize Jeanette Filer, Angelita Mariano,
and Alvin Boning, Animal Science Department, for their endless
patience and invaluable assistance in the laboratory.
The author is grateful to Jose Franca for giving meaning to
several Brazilian articles that were written in Portuguese and cited
in this report.
The author is also grateful to Mrs. Patricia French for typing
the manuscript.
Finally, the author expresses his appreciation to the Gas
Research Institute, Chicago, Illinois, and the Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, Gainesville, Florida, for co-funding this
research.
in


TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iii
LIST OF TABLES v
LIST OF FIGURES x
ABSTRACT xi
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 1
CHAPTER 2 BIOMASS YIELD AND QUALITY CHARACTERISTICS OF
ELEPHANTGRASS AS AFFECTED BY HARVEST FREQUENCY
AND GENOTYPE 3
Introduction 3
Materials and Methods 5
Results and Discussion 11
Oven Dry Biomass Yields 11
Crude Protein, Tn Vitro Organic Matter Digesti
bility, and Neutral Detergent Fiber 15
Winter Survival 24
Methane Production 26
Animal Performance 28
Conclusions 30
CHAPTER 3 SILAGE CHARACTERISTICS OF ELEPHANTGRASS AND
ENERGYCANE AS AFFECTED BY HARVEST FREQUENCY AND
GENOTYPE 32
Introduction 32
Materials and Methods 33
Results and Discussion 36
Biomass Characteristics Before Ensiling 36
Silage Characteristics 44
Utilization of Elephantgrass Silage 60
Conclusions 67
CHAPTER 4 GENERAL SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS 69
APPENDIX 74
LITERATURE CITED 93
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 98
IV


LIST OF TABLES
TABLE PAGE
1 Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes grown
under one, two, and three harvests per year at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1986.... 12
2 Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes grown
under one, two and three harvests per year at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1987.... 13
3 Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes grown
under one, two, and three harvests per year at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1986.... 16
4 Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes grown
under one, two, and three harvests per year at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1987.... 17
5 In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1986 19
6 In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1987 20
7 Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1986 21
8 Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1987 22
9 Stand survival of elephantgrass genotypes following the
1986-87 growing seasons with plots harvested one, two,
and three times per year at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL 25
v


10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
PAGE
Average predicted methane production of PI 300086
elephantgrass harvested one, two, and three times per
season at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville,
FL, during the 1986-87 growing seasons 27
Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane
grown under one, two, and three harvests in 1986 at
Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 37
Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane
grown under one, two, and three harvests in 1987 at
Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 38
Water soluble carbohydrate (WSCHO) content of
elephantgrass and energycane grown under one, two, and
three harvests in 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 40
Buffering capacity of PI 300086 elephantgrass and
L79-1002 energycane grown under one, two, and three
harvests in 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 42
The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made from plants grown under one, two, and three harvests
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 45
The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made
from plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in
1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL... 46
Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made from plants harvested one, two, and three
times in 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 47
Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made from plants harvested one, two, and three
times in 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 48
Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made from plants harvested one, two, and three
times in 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 49
vi


TABLE
PAGE
20 Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made from plants harvested one, two, and three
times in 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 50
21 Ammoniacal N percentage of total N in PI 300086
elephantgrass and L79-1002 energycane silages made from
plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in 1987
at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 53
22 Lactic acid percentage of total acids in elephantgrass
and energycane silages made from plants grown under one,
two, and three harvests in 1986 at Green Acres research
farm near Gainesville, FL 56
23 Lactic acid percentage of total acids in elephantgrass
and energycane silages made from plants grown under one,
two, and three harvests in 1987 at Green Acres research
farm near Gainesville, FL 57
24 Flieg score of elephantgrass and energycane silages made
from plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in
1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL... 58
25 Flieg score of elephantgrass and energycane silages made
from plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in
1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL... 59
26 Dry matter recovery of elephantgrass and energycane
forages that were stored by ensiling in 1986 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 61
27 Dry matter recovery of elephantgrass and energycane
forages that were stored by ensiling in 1987 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 62
28 Mean percentage point difference between iri vitro
organic matter digestibilities before and after the
ensiling of elephantgrass and energycane which were
gathered from plots harvested one, two, and three times
per year at the Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1986-87 63
29Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 74
Vll


TABLE
PAGE
30 Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 75
31 Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 76
32 Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 77
33 In_ vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1986 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 78
34 In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1987 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 79
35 Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1986 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 80
36 Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1987 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 81
37 Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 82
38 Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 83
39Water soluble carbohydrate (WSCHO) content of
elephantgrass and energycane from single harvests
within multiple harvest treatments made during 1987 at
Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL... 84
viii


TABLE
PAGE
40 Buffering capacity of PI 300086 elephantgrass and
L79-1002 energycane from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1987 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 85
41 The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made with
plants from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 86
42 The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made with
plants from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 87
43 Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made with plants from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments during 1986 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL 88
44 Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made with plants from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments during 1987 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL 89
45 Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made with plants from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments during 1986 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL 90
46 Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made with plants from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments during 1987 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL 91
47 Ammoniacal N percentage of total N in PI 300086
elephantgrass and L79-1002 energycane silages made with
plants from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 92
IX


LIST OF FIGURES
FIGURE PAGE
1 Climatological data at Gainesville, Florida, for 1986.... 6
2 Climatological data at Gainesville, Florida, for 1987.... 7
x


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
BIOMASS YIELD AND SILAGE CHARACTERISTICS OF ELEPHANTGRASS (Pennisetum
purpureum SCHUM.) AS AFFECTED BY HARVEST FREQUENCY AND GENOTYPE
By
KENNETH ROBERT WOODARD
August 1989
Chairman: Dr. Gordon M. Prine
Major Department: Agronomy
Elephantgrass (Pennisetum purpureum Schum.) is being evaluated in
Florida as a biomass energy crop and a forage for ruminants. In a 2-year
study conducted on a dry, infertile site and under the subtropical
conditions near Gainesville, the response of this forage to three harvest
frequency regimes was measured. Genotypes evaluated were four "tall"
elephantgrasses (PI 300086, Merkeron, N-43, and N-51), a "dwarf"
elephantgrass ('Mott'), a "semi-dwarf" Pennisetum glaucum x _P. purpureum
hybrid (Selection No. 3), and a "tall" Saccharum species of energycane
(L79-1002). To determine if these grasses could be stored as silage, the
fresh chopped plant materials of PI 300086, Merkeron, Mott, and L79-1002
were hand-packed into 20-liter plastic containers lined with two 4-mil
plastic bags.
Mean dry biomass yields for the four tall elephantgrasses during
1986-87 were 27, 24, and 18 Mg ha ^ yr ^ for one, two, and three harvests
yr-^, respectively. In vitro organic matter digestibilities (IV0MD) were
40, 49, and 55% while crude protein (CP) contents were 4.0, 5.8, and 7.9%
xi


(dry basis), respectively. Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF)
contents were 81, 76, and 74% (dry basis). Predicted methane production
ha 1 yr ^ for PI 300086 was similar for all harvest treatments.
For Mott dwarf elephantgrass, 2-year mean dry biomass yields were 13,
12, and 11 Mg ha ^ yr ^ for one, two, and three harvests yr-^,
respectively. Mean IVOMDs were 40, 54, and 57% while CP contents were 5.3,
7.1, and 9.6%, respectively. Two-year NDF means were 77, 73, and 70%.
Merkeron, N-43, N-51, Mott, and L79-1002 survived the experimental
conditions. Genotype PI 300086 survived during 1986-87; however, major
stand losses occurred over the 1987-88 winter following the second
growing season in plots harvested multiple times. An almost complete
loss of stand occurred in Selection No. 3 plots.
Mean pH values ranged from 3.8 to 4.0 for the tall elephantgrass
silages made from plants harvested at the different frequencies. The
highest pH values were obtained from silages made from immature Mott
plants harvested three times yr ^ (2-year mean was 4.3). Water soluble
carbohydrate contents of fresh elephantgrass forages (range: 2.6 to
8.4%, dry basis) tended to increase with more frequent harvesting.
Buffering capacities of fresh PI 300086 and L79-1002 biomass were low and
also increased with more frequent harvesting. Lactic acid was the major
end-product of fermentation in most silages with the exception of those
made from immature Mott and L79-1002 plants where lactic and acetic acids
were both major components. Butyric acid levels were negligible in all
silages. Dry matter recoveries for all silages ranged from 84 to 98%.
Silage IVOMDs were mainly dependent on the IVOMDs of the standing forages
at the time of harvest.
Xll


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Elephantgrass or napiergrass (Pennisetum purpureum Schum.) is a
perennial erect bunchgrass that was first cultivated in South Africa
around 1910 (Van Zyl, 1970). Since then elephantgrass research has
been conducted throughout the tropics and warmer subtropics. The
purpose of most of the past research was to evaluate this grass as a
forage for ruminants.
In recent times new objectives have surfaced which focus on
elephantgrass as a renewable biomass energy source. The Arab-OPEC oil
embargo of 1973-74, which caused widespread fuel shortages in the USA,
was the initial motivating force behind the creation of biomass energy
research programs in many parts of this country.
In Florida, energy programs were implemented in the early 1980s
to evaluate different plant species for biomass production. Of over
150 field tested species, elephantgrass was chosen by agronomists at
the University of Florida as one of three plant species for intensive
evaluation (Smith, 1984). Elephantgrass was selected because of its
ability to produce large amounts of plant biomass per unit land area.
Record dry matter yields have been reported at two locations in the
tropics that exceed 80 Mg ha-'*' yr-'* (Watkins and Severen, 1951;
Vicente-Chandler et al., 1959). Other desirable attributes include a
positive yield response to very high rates of nitrogen fertilization,
the perennial nature of the plant, and the tolerance to severe drought
1


2
stress with subsequent compensatory growth when favorable growing
conditions prevail.
Other developments in recent years have renewed interest in
elephantgrass. The development of "dwarf" strains of elephantgrass by
researchers at Tifton, Georgia, has increased its potential in
ruminant animal production. Research by Boddorff and Ocumpaugh (1986)
has shown dwarf genotypes to be superior in overall plant quality to
that of "tall" Pennisetum hybrids. Furthermore, over several years
forage agronomists at Gainesville have consistently reported average
daily liveweight gains of one kg from steers grazing 'Mott' dwarf
elephantgrass for prolonged summer-fall periods ranging from 126 to
177 days (Mott and Ocumpaugh, 1984; Sollenberger et al., 1988). Also,
with improvements in mechanical forage harvesters, the highly
productive tall genotypes can be more effectively harvested as
greenchop or silage.
The following research was co-funded by the Gas Research
Institute, Chicago, Illinois, and the Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, Gainesville, Florida. It consisted of an
elephantgrass study that was conducted over two growing seasons on an
infertile, dry location near Gainesville, Florida, where conditions
may be classified as the colder subtropics. The primary objectives
were to measure the effects of harvest frequency and genotype on
biomass yield, forage quality, and stand persistence and to determine
if elephantgrass could be successfully stored by ensiling.


CHAPTER 2
BIOMASS YIELD AND QUALITY CHARACTERISTICS OF ELEPHANTGRASS
AS AFFECTED BY HARVEST FREQUENCY AND GENOTYPE
Introduction
Elephantgrass is well known throughout much of the wet tropics for
its prolific growth habit and usage as a forage for livestock.
Presently, this C-4 grass is being intensively evaluated by agronomists
in Florida as a renewable biomass source for methane production (Prine
et al., 1988). Before elephantgrass can become a viable biomass
source, however, more must be known about the performance of existing
genotypes under different cultural conditions, particularly in the
colder subtropical climate of North Central Florida.
Two factors that strongly affect elephantgrass performance are
harvest frequency and genotype. Mislevy et al. (1986) reported dry
biomass yields of 52.2 and 17.0 Mg ha-^ yr~^ for PI 300086
elephantgrass when harvested one and two times per season,
respectively, at Ona, Florida. At Gainesville, Florida, Calhoun and
Prine (1985) showed a curvilinear increase in annual biomass yield of
PI 300086 elephantgrass with increased time between harvests (6, 8,
12, and 24 weeks). They also noted that plants growing under the 24-
week harvest interval regime were more winter-hardy then those growing
under the other three shorter intervals. Also working with
PI 300086 elephantgrass at Gainesville, Shiralipour and Smith (1985)
3


4
reported declining methane yield per volatile solid (VS), with
advancing plant maturity. For plant ages 75, 150, and 315 days, they
obtained methane yields of 0.38, 0.30, and 0.25 standard m kg VS.
In Puerto Rico, Vicente-Chandler et al. (1959) obtained dramatic
increases in annual biomass yields and declining crude protein
contents by increasing the length of harvest interval (40-, 60-, and
90-day intervals). Arroyo-Aguil and Oporta-Tellez (1980) observed
diminishing crude protein and increasing neutral detergent fiber
levels in Merker elephantgrass with advancing plant maturity. In
Malaysia, Wong and Sharudin (1986) reported in vitro dry matter
digestibility values of 56, 50, and 44% for elephantgrass forage
harvested at 4-, 8-, and 12-week intervals. Velez-Santiago and
Arroyo-Aguilu (1981) working with seven elephantgrass genotypes
reported declining crude protein levels and increasing biomass yields
with decreasing harvest frequency. Although all genotypes responded
similarly to the effect of harvest frequency, they observed
differences among genotypes in biomass yield, crude protein, and
neutral detergent fiber concentrations. At Gainesville, Prine and
Woodard (1986) evaluated several tall elephantgrass genotypes under
full-season growth. Differences in biomass yield, lodging rate, and
winter survival were observed among genotypes. The genotype PI 300086
often produced the highest biomass yield and was lodge resistant. It
tended, however, to winterkill. Other high-yielding genotypes
including Merkeron, N-51, N-43, and N-13 were much more cold tolerant.
The purpose of the following study was to measure the effects of
harvest frequency and genotype on biomass yield, forage quality, and


5
winter survival in the colder subtropical area of Gainesville,
Florida.
Materials and Methods
An elephantgrass biomass study was conducted over two growing
seasons (1986-87) at the Green Acres University of Florida Research
Farm approximately 20 km northwest of Gainesville, Florida. The soil
at the site was a well-drained Arredondo fine sand (loamy, siliceous,
hyperthermic, Grossarenic Paleudults). Soil organic matter contents
ranged from 1.0 to 1.5%.
Weekly temperature, precipitation, and solar radiation data for
Gainesville are shown in Fig. 1 for 1986 and Fig. 2 for 1987. The
estimated dates of first and last freeze occurrence (50% probability)
for the area are 28 November and 2 March, respectively (Bradley,
1983).
A factorial experiment with a split-plot design was planted in
December 1985, using mature stem cuttings that were horizontally planted
in a furrow. Main plots consisted of harvesting elephantgrass one, two,
and three times per season while subplots were used to compare different
genotypes including four "tall" elephantgrasses (PI 300086, Merkeron, N-
51, and N-43). Also included was a tall-growing energycane (L79-1002)
which is a cross between a commercial sugarcane variety (CP 52-68) and a
wild Saccharum species (Tianan 96) from Argentina that was made in
Louisiana (Giamalva et al., 1984). The four tall elephantgrasses were
previously collected in 1980. They were among 40 genotypes that were
selected as entries in an elephantgrass observation nursery which was


6
*C AVERAGE WEEKLY TEMPERATURE
WEEKLY TOTAL PRECIPITATION
ANNUAL TOTAL 1329
MJ/WEEK
AVERAGE WEEKLY SOLAR RADIATION
ANNUAL TOTAL 6310
Fig. 1. Climatological data at Gainesville, Florida, for 1986.


7
*C AVERAGE WEEKLY TEMPERATURE
WEEKLY TOTAL PRECIPITATION
ANNUAL TOTAL 1159
Jan Fab Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sap Oct Nov Oao
Fig
2. Climatological data at Gainesville, Florida, for 1987


8
planted in Gainesville that year. The original planting materials of
PI 300086 elephantgrass were collected at the USDA SCS Plant Materials
Center at Brooksville, Florida. Merkeron, N-51, and N-43 were
collected from the Georgia Coastal Plain Station at Tifton. The
genotype N-51 had been growing on the station as an escape for over 35
years (Prine et al., 1988). Merkeron is a tall hybrid that resulted
from a dwarf x tall elephantgrass cross made by G. W. Burton in 1941
(Hanna, 1986). In the present study the four tall elephantgrasses and
the energycane were grown together at one location.
A dwarf elephantgrass ('Mott') and a semi-dwarf Pennisetum hybrid
[Selection No. 3 (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br. x Pennisetum
purpureum Schum.)] were planted about 60 m away at another location
under the same split-plot design. Mott (formerly N-75) was named in
honor of the late Dr. Gerald 0. Mott, Professor of Agronomy at the
University of Florida, who along with Dr. W. R. Ocumpaugh and their
students conducted the initial research that showed this dwarf strain
to possess unusually high forage quality (Sollenberger et al., 1988).
Mott was selected by W. W. Hanna in 1977 from among a selfed progeny
of Merkeron elephantgrass (Hanna, 1986). Selection No. 3 is a sterile
interspecific hybrid from a cross between Mott elephantgrass as the
male parent and 23DA dwarf pearlmillet as the female parent (Schank
and Dunavin, 1988).
All treatment combinations at both locations were completely
randomized in four blocks. A plot consisted of five rows. Plot row
length was 8 m while between-row width was 0.9 m. To avoid


9
competition between harvest frequencies and to facilitate mechanical
harvesting, there were 1.8 and 2.7 m alleys separating main plots.
In the early spring of 1986, clump pieces were transplanted into
the plots where plants failed to emerge. The plots were then
irrigated three times during April and May to ensure an almost
complete stand. This was the only irrigation the plots received
during the entire study.
All plots received 336 kg N ha-^ yr-^ in a 4-1-2 ratio with P2O5
and 1^0. Plots harvested one time yr ^ received the total annual rate
of fertilizer in a single spring application. The annual rate was
split into two equal spring and summer applications for plots
harvested two times whereas plots harvested three times received three
equal spring, summer, and early fall applications.
During both years the harvest period for main plots cut one time
per season was the third week of November. Plots cut two times were
harvested in the first week of August and the third week of November.
Plots cut three times were harvested in the first weeks of July and
September and the fourth week of November.
A 6-m portion of the center row was harvested at a 10- to 15-cm
cutting height from each plot to determine dry biomass yield. The
tall grasses were mechanically harvested with a John Deere model 3940
forage harvester (Deere and Co., Moline, IL). Short grasses could not
be effectively harvested with the forage harvester. They were cut
down with a Stihl model FS 96 brushcutter (Stihl Inc., Virginia Beach,
VA) and then chopped using the forage harvester. Subsamples weighing
approximately 1.5 kg were collected from the fresh chopped biomass and


10
air-dried at 60C. After drying, the subsamples were taken
individually from the dryer and weighed immediately to compute dry
matter percentages. A "grab" sample from each subsample was then
ground in a Wiley mill (1-mm mesh screen) prior to analysis at the
University of Florida Forage Evaluation Support Laboratory at
Gainesville, Florida. Also, collected from the 6-m portion of row
were fresh 2 to 3 kg subsamples of chopped PI 300086 elephantgrass
from two blocks for each harvest (six harvests yr-^). These samples
were frozen and sent to the Bioprocess Engineering Research Laboratory
at Gainesville to determine methane potential. Due to limited
resources at the laboratory, however, one block sample was analyzed in
triplicate. Methane potential was estimated by bioassay procedures
outlined by Owen et al. (1979). Methane yields were calculated after
a 20-day fermentation period.
Nitrogen analysis involved an aluminum block digestion of the
biomass material (Gallaher et al., 1975) followed by an automated
colorimetric determination of total N by a Technicon Auto Analyzer
(Technicon Instruments Corp., Tarrytown, NY). Crude protein content
(dry basis) was computed by multiplying the percent total N by 6.25.
The modified two-stage technique by Moore and Mott (1974) was used to
determine in vitro organic matter digestibility. Neutral detergent
fiber (ash-free) concentrations were determined using the procedure by
Van Soest and Wine (1967) with modifications suggested by Golding et
al. (1985).
For each of the response variables reported on in this Chapter,
with the exception of stand survival, the observations from the single


11
harvests within a multiple harvest treatment for each genotype were
averaged or summed (depending on the parameter) into a single
observation before statistical analyses were conducted. The means for
most of the response variables from the single harvests are shown in
tables contained in the Appendix.
Analysis of variance was performed by using the general linear
model procedure of the Statistical Analysis System (SAS Institute
Inc., 1982). When the F-test for treatment effects showed
significance at the 5% level, this analysis was followed by Duncans
multiple range test (DMRT) to compare genotypes. Orthogonal
polynomial procedures were used to determine the nature of the
response over harvest frequencies. Statistical analyses were computed
separately for the tall and short genotypes. The DMRT notations for
tall genotypes are the usual a, b, and c letters, while the notations
for the two short genotypes are letters x and y. Analysis of variance
was not performed on values estimating methane potential because of
limited observations.
Results and Discussion
Oven Dry Biomass Yields
Differences in dry biomass yield did not occur among the four
"tall" elephantgrasses (PI 300086, Merkeron, N-43, and N-51) in either
year (Tables 1 and 2). In 1986, yields for the tall-growing L79-1002
energycane were inferior to the tall elephantgrasses, but the
following season differences did not occur. For all tall genotypes in
both years, the biomass yields decreased as the frequency of harvest


12
Table 1. Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes grown
under one, two, and three harvests per year at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1986.
Oven dry biomass yield
Harvests in 1986 ~
Genotype Growth type 123 Average9
Mg ha-l
PI 300086
tall
30.3
29.7
21.8
27.3a
Merkeron
tall
31.9
27.7
21.4
27.0a
N-43
tall
28.1
27.3
19.2
24.9a
N-51
tall
26.9
27.6
18.0
24.1a
L79-1002^
tall
19.6
18.7
14.3
17.5b
Overall
average^
27.4 L**Q**
26.2
18.9
Selection
No. 3 tsemi-dwarf
19.2
17.7
11.9
16.3x
Mott
dwarf
15.2
14.8
11.8
13.9y
Overall
If
average
17.2 L**
16.2
11.8
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
O
9Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


13
Table 2. Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes grown
under one, two and three harvests per year at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1987.
Genotype
Growth type
Oven dry biomass yield
1
Harvests in 1987
2 3
Average^
PI 300086
tall
23.6
20.3
12.9
18.9a
Merkeron
tall
26.3
20.8
16.2
21.1a
N-43
tall
24.3
20.6
14.9
19.9a
N-51
tall
21.2
18.1
16.1
18.5a
L79-1002^
tall
21.7
17.9
13.7
17.8a
Overall
average^
23.4
L** 19.5
14.8
Selection
f
No. S'*- semi-dwarf
3.2
4.1
6.2
4.5y
Mott
dwarf
10.5
9.2
9.8
9.8x
Overall
average
6.9
6.6
8.0
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


14
increased. The 2-year average yields for the four tall
elephantgrasses with one, two, and three harvests yr ^ were 27, 24,
and 18 Mg ha~^ yr-'*, respectively.
In 1986, the dry biomass yields for the "short" grasses
(Selection No. 3 and 'Mott') decreased with more frequent harvests;
however, trends were not found the following season. Selection No. 3
was superior in yield to Mott in 1986, but Mott yields were more than
double those obtained from Selection No. 3 in 1987. That year,
Selection No. 3 plants in all plots began to rapidly deteriorate, thus
resulting in reduced biomass yield. Two-year average yields for Mott
elephantgrass were 13, 12, and 11 Mg ha ^ yr ^ for one, two, and three
harvests yr ^.
Reduction of biomass yield with increased frequency of harvest is
consistent with several reports in the literature (Watkins and
Severen, 1951; Vicente-Chandler et al., 1959; Velez-Santiago and
Arroyo-Aguil, 1981; Calhoun and Prine, 1985). In the present study,
the yield advantage of full-season growth was probably due to the
extended uninterrupted linear growth phase. At Gainesville, Calhoun
(1985) reported the linear growth phase of dry matter accumulation for
PI 300086 elephantgrass to be about 170 days with a crop growth rate
-2 -1
of 23 g m d When this growth phase is interrupted as with
harvesting multiple times per season, the reduction in annual biomass
yield can be attributed in part to the uncollected solar energy during
the period between a harvest (canopy removal) and complete vegetative
ground cover of the next ratoon growth phase. Consequently, the more


15
interruptions made during the season, the lower the annual biomass
yield.
The biomass reduction from one to two harvests yr ^ obtained from
the tall elephantgrass group in the present study (11%) was much
smaller than those Mislevy et al. (1986) reported at Ona, Florida (67
and 69%). Contrastingly, in Puerto Ricewhich has a full 12-month
growing seasonSamuels et al. (1983) reported higher annual dry
biomass yields from elephantgrass harvested two times yr-^ as compared
to harvesting one time. However, as the harvest frequency increased
to three and six cuts per season, the yields declined. For one, two,
three, and six harvests yr \ they reported annual dry biomass yields
of 58, 74, 56, and 27 Mg ha respectively.
The biomass yields from the present study are somewhat lower than
those from the reports cited earlier. However, given the droughty,
infertile soils, the nonirrigated conditions, and the colder
subtropical climate at the experimental site, the biomass yields from
this study should be considered substantial.
Crude Protein, In Vitro Organic Matter Digestibility, and Neutral
Detergent Fiber
Differences among tall grass genotypes in crude protein (CP)
content did not occur in either year (Tables 3 and 4). The averages
(over harvest frequency) for the tall grasses ranged from 5.7 to 6.2%,
dry basis. The CP levels increased linearly with increasing frequency
of harvest. The 2-year average CP contents for the four tall
elephantgrasses were 4.0, 5.8, and 7.9% for one, two, and three
harvests per season, respectively.


16
Table 3. Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes grown under
one, two, and three harvests per year at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1986.
Genotype
F-test^
Crude
protein
1
Harvests in
2
1986
3
Average^
7
/o ,
PI 300086
3.5
5.6
7.9
5.7a
Merkeron
3.9
5.3
8.1
5.8a
N-43
3.8
6.9
7.9
6.2a
N-51
3.7
5.3
8.2
5.7a
L79-1002^
3.9
5.5
7.8
5.7a
Overall
average L**
3.8
5.7
8.0
Selection
No. 3^ L**
4.3x§
7.5x
9.7x
7.1
Mott
L**
4.7x
6.9x
8.8y
6.8
Overall
average
4.5
7.2
9.2
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
^Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


17
Table 4. Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes grown under
one, two, and three harvests per year at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1987.
Genotype
F-test^
Crude protein
1
Harvests in
2
1987
3
Average^
PI 300086
4.0
6.1
7.5
5.9a
Merkeron
4.5
5.9
7.5
6.0a
N-43
4.3
5.5
8.4
6.1a
N-51
4.5
5.6
7.7
6.0a
L79-1002t
4.5
5.7
7.3
5.8a
Overall average
L**
4.4
5.8
7.7
Selection No. 3
-
-
-
Mott
L**
5.8
7.3
10.4
7.8
4.
'Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
yMeans in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


18
For the short grasses, CP levels also increased with more
frequent harvests. The 2-year average CP contents for Mott
elephantgrass were 5.3, 7.1, and 9.6% for one, two, and three harvests
yr-'*', respectively. Laboratory analyses were discontinued for
Selection No. 3 in 1987 due to herbage deterioration and subsequent
plant death.
In the overall analysis of vitro organic matter
digestibilities (IVOMD), an interaction occurred between genotype and
harvest frequency in both years for the tall grass group (Tables 5 and
6). When L79-1002 energycane was deleted from the data set, the
interaction was not significant. Merkeron, N-43, and N-51
elephantgrasses did not differ in IVOMD in either season. The
genotype PI 300086 was significantly lower the first season but did
not differ from the other tall elephantgrasses the second season. The
IVOMDs for the elephantgrasses and energycane increased with the more
frequent harvests. The 2-year average IVOMDs for the four
elephantgrass genotypes were 40, 49, and 55% for the one, two, and
three harvests yr \ respectively.
In 1986, differences in IVOMD did not occur between Selection No. 3
and Mott genotypes. Also, IVOMD levels increased with more frequent
harvests. The 2-year average IVOMDs for Mott elephantgrass were 40,
54, and 57% for one, two, and three harvests yr *", respectively.
Similar ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) values were
obtained from the tall elephantgrasses, though there was a tendency
for PI 300086 to be slightly higher than the others (Tables 7 and 8).
The NDF levels decreased with more frequent harvests; however, the


19
Table 5. In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1986.
Genotype
F-test^
IVOMD
Harvests in 1986
1 2 3
Average^
<7
/u
PI 300086
37
47
55
46b
Merkeron
41
49
56
48a
N-43
39
52
56
49a
N-51
40
49
56
48a
Overall
average
L** Q**
39
49
56
L79-1002^
L** Q*
40
47
50
46
Selection
No. 3*
L** Q**
44x§
56x
56x
52
Mott
L** Q**
43x
55x
58x
52
Overall
average
44
55
57
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
o
^Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


20
Table 6. In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1987.
Genotype
F-test^
IVOMD
Harvests in 1987
1 2 3
Average^
7 -
PI 300086
40
47
54
47a
Merkeron
42
50
55
49a
N-43
40
49
55
48a
N-51
42
47
55
48a
Overall
average
L**
41
48
55
L79-1002t
L**
46
47
50
48
Selection
No. 3*
-
-
-
Mott
L** Q**
36
53
56
48
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
11
Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; PC0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (#).


21
Table 7. Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1986.
Genotype
F-test^
NDF
Harvests in 1986
1 2 3
Average^
/o, ary uuoio
PI 300086
83
78
76
79a
Merkeron
81
76
73
77bc
N-43
81
75
74
77c
N-51
82
_77
74
77b
Overall
average L#* Q**
82
77
74
L79-1002t
77
78
77
77
Selection
No. 3*
76
72
68
72y
Mott
76
73
70
73x
Overall
average L**
76
73
69
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
O
yMeans in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


22
Table 8. Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1987.
NDF
Harvests in 1987
Genotype F-test1' 12 3 Average
%, dry basis
PI 300086
L**
79aS
78a
76b
78
Merkeron
L** Q*
79a
75b
75 c
76
N-43
L**
80a
76b
74c
77
N-51
L**
80a
77a
74c
77
L79-1002^
L**
72b
76ab
78a
75
Overall average
78
76
75
Selection No. 3
-
-
-
Mott
L**
78
72
70
73
"^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or PC0.05 (*).


23
magnitude of the decline was small. The 2-year average NDF
concentrations for the four tall elephantgrasses were 81, 76, and 74%
(dry basis) for one, two, and three harvests yr-^, respectively. For
the energycane (L79-1002), NDF levels were unchanged over harvest
treatments in 1986 while the levels surprisingly increased linearly
with more frequent harvests the following season.
Selection No. 3 and Mott genotypes differed slightly in NDF
during 1986. The NDF levels decreased with increasing cutting
frequency. The 2-year average NDF concentrations for Mott were 77,
73, and 70% for one, two, and three harvests yr-^, respectively.
In general, the quality of elephantgrass forage in terms of CP,
IVOMD, and NDF, becomes more favorable as the number of harvests per
season increases. With more frequent harvesting of both tall and
short elephantgrasses, CP and IVOMD levels increase while NDF
concentrations decline. Among the four tall elephantgrasses,
PI 300086 had a tendency to be slightly lower in IVOMD and higher in
NDF than the others.
Although direct statistical comparisons between tall and short
elephantgrasses cannot be made in this study due to different, but
similar, plot locations, some interesting trends are worth noting.
Crude protein averages recorded for Mott were generally one to two
percentage points higher than the average values recorded for the tall
types. Averages for IVOMD were one to two percentage points higher
under three harvests per season. With two harvests per season, Mott
IVOMD averages were approximately five percentage points higher,
probably the result of a major increase in the stem portion of the


24
total above-ground parts of tall elephantgrass plants. Also, Mott NDF
levels tended to be from three to five percentage points lower.
The more favorable quality measurements obtained from Mott can be
attributed to the greater fraction of leaves in the total above-ground
portions of dwarf plants and higher stem quality. In Florida,
Boddorff and Ocumpaugh (1986) obtained stem IVOMD values for dwarf
elephantgrass genotypes ranging from 72% in October to 60% in January
while tall hybrid Pennisetum genotypes ranged from 66 to 45% over the
same period. Stem crude protein contents for the dwarf types ranged
from 11% in October to 6% in January (dry basis) compared with 7 to 4%
for the tall hybrids. The leaf blade made up 80% of the total sample
in October for the dwarf genotypes. This was nearly double the value
recorded for the tall hybrids.
Winter Survival
The percent stand survival was recorded after spring growth
initiation in 1988 (Table 9). The elephantgrass PI 300086 survived
the conditions during 1986-87; however, major stand losses occurred
over the 1987-88 winter following the second growing season in plots
harvested multiple times per year. Calhoun and Prine (1985) also
reported major losses in PI 300086 stands with multiple harvest
frequencies at a site near Gainesville.
Merkeron, N-43, N-51, and Mott elephantgrasses and L79-1002
energycane tolerated the harvest frequencies included in the present
study and survived the two winters at Gainesville. Selection No. 3
plots were almost completely void of live plants in the spring of


25
Table 9. Stand survival of elephantgrass genotypes following the
1986-87 growing seasons with plots harvested one, two, and
three times per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL.
Stand survivalt
Harvests per year
Genotype
F-testff
1
2
3
7
/u 1
PI 300086
L** Q**
59b^
8b
8b
Merkeron
84a
75a
81a
N-43
Q**
81a
72a
81a
N-51
80a
69a
81a
L79-1002^
67b
69a
81a
Selection No.
3§
Oy
iy
Oy
Mott
79x
77x
71x
fPercentage of
stubble area
initiating
spring growth on 6 Apr.
1988.
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
^Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


26
1988. Selection No. 3 plants in all plots began to deteriorate
rapidly during the 1987 season. That year a heavy infestation of the
two-lined spittlebug (Prosapia bicincta Say) occurred on Mott and
Selection No. 3. The primary cause of accelerated plant death of
Selection No. 3 was attributed to the spittlebugs.
Methane Production
Results of the bioassays performed on fresh PI 300086
elephantgrass suggest that methane yield kg--'- volatile solid (VS)
after a 20-day fermentation period increases with more frequent
harvesting (Table 10). This trend is consistent with the findings of
Calhoun and Prine (1985) and Shiralipour and Smith (1985). However,
the levels of methane yield kg VS were overall somewhat lower than
those obtained by the reports cited above. Estimated methane
production ha-'*' was substantially lower overall compared to values
reported by the former study. This was the result of lower dry
biomass production and methane yield kg-*' VS.
The data suggest that harvesting two times per season results
in slightly higher methane production ha-*; however, large
differences between harvest frequencies were not apparent. It is
possible that the production of biodegradable plant materials per
unit land area (i.e., biodegradable within a reasonable period of
time) is similar for the three harvest frequency regimes. If so,
the biodegradable materials would be more diluted in full-season
growth and concentrated in plants harvested three times per season.
It is also possible that the quantity-quality compromising


27
Table 10. Average predicted methane production of PI 300086
elephantgrass harvested one, two, and three times per
season at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL,
during the 1986-87 growing seasons.
Harvests
per season
Annual dry
biomass yield
Volatile
solids
Average
methane yieldt
Annual methane
production
Mg ha-1
%
std kg ^ VS
std m^xlO^ ha ^
1
27.0
96.4
00
r-H
o
4.8
2
25.0
95.7
0.217
5.2
3
17.3
94.5
0.277
4.5
Determined from one sample per harvest over two seasons.
f'Methane yield measured at 15.5C and one atmosphere.


28
harvest frequency between these two extremesi.e., harvesting two
times per seasonwill result in slightly higher methane production.
In contrast, Calhoun and Prine (1985) showed a clear-cut
advantage with full-season growth in annual methane production ha-'*'
over multiple harvests. In their study, the high values for predicted
methane production ha ^ were mainly due to the large biomass yields of
single annual harvests and the major declines in yield of multiple
cuts. Although full-season growth produced the highest biomass yields
in the present study, major declines in production under two and three
harvests per season did not occur.
Animal Performance
Much research has been conducted with elephantgrass throughout
the tropics and subtropics since the early 1900s. The objectives of
most studies of the past have centered on ruminant nutrition because
of the widespread utilization of this forage as a green chop and
silage feed.
Although direct animal performance data were not collected, it is
reasonable to assume that the forages harvested in the present study
can be used in cattle operations, either totally or in combination
with energy systems, depending on the current market circumstances.
When fed ad libitum as a soilage crop, elephantgrass forages from the
tall genotypes and three harvests per season (2-year average CP and
IVOMD values were 7.9% and 55%, respectively) should result in a
positive energy balance for most classes of cattle (National Research
Council, 1984). Forages grown under two harvests per season (2-year


29
average CP and IVOMD values were 5.8% and 49%, respectively) should
result in a nutritional level that is near maintenance for some
classes, mature non-lactating cows for example, provided voluntary
intakes are adequate. [The author is assuming that IVOMD is a
reasonable estimate of total digestible nutrient (TDN) content.] In
Venezuela, Arias (1979) measured daily animal intakes with
elephantgrass forage over a 200-day period beginning with 8-month-old
calves. Daily intakes ranged from 2.1 to 3.1 kg DM/100 kg liveweight
with forages gathered at the flowering stage to early vegetative
increase. Daily liveweight gains ranged from -0.1 to 0.8 kg per head.
In Brazil, Gonqalez et al. (1979) working with two elephantgrass
cultivars reported daily intakes of 1.9 and 2.3 kg DM/100 kg
liveweight in cattle. The forage _in_ vitro dry matter digestibilities
for the corresponding intake values were 46 and 47%, respectively.
Daily animal performance under ad_ libitum conditions should be
somewhat higher for Mott dwarf elephantgrass compared to the tall
types. This prediction is based on the improved quality attributes
that were observed in the present study which included higher recorded
values for crude protein and IVOMD and lower values for NDF. Burton
et al. (1969) reported a 20% greater average daily gain for steers
grazing dwarf pearlmillet as compared to those grazing tall types.
Dwarf elephantgrasses may turn out to be inferior to tall types on an
animal product ha ^ basis and under soilage feeding conditions because
the better quality may not make up for its much lower biomass yield.


30
Conclusions
Elephantgrass produces substantial biomass yields on dry,
infertile sites and under the colder subtropical conditions of North
Central Florida. As the number of harvests per season increases,
biomass yields decline (the yield response of Mott dwarf elephantgrass
may be an exception with the harvest frequencies included in the
present study) while forage crude protein and IVOMD levels and methane
yields kg-^ VS increase. Neutral detergent fiber levels gradually
decrease; however, major reductions do not occur.
Variation in survival tolerance to increased harvest frequency
and colder subtropical winters exists among genotypes. The
elephantgrass genotypes Merkeron, N-43, N-51, and Mott, and the
L79-1002 energycane survived the experimental conditions and could be
recommended for planting in North Central Florida. The genotype
PI 300086 elephantgrass was susceptible to winterkill, particularly
when harvested multiple times per season. An almost complete loss of
stand occurred in the semi-dwarf Selection No. 3 (Pennisetum hybrid)
plots during the study. Therefore, PI 300086 and Selection No. 3 are
not suitable for the area.
Two harvests per season appeared to be the best compromise
between biomass quantity and quality (methane yield kg~^ VS), thus
resulting in the highest estimate for methane production ha-^. Since
the other harvest treatments resulted in similar predicted production
levels, the final analysis as to the best harvest regime to use in a
methane production system must come from an evaluation of production
costs and net energy gains.


31
Finally, the forages resulting from two and three harvests per
season could be utilized, either solely or in combination with energy
production systems, in several types of cattle operations. These
forages should provide an almost complete supply of nutrients required
for certain beef cattle classes such as mature cows and replacement
heifers. For high-producing animals such as lactating dairy cows and
feedlot beef animals, these forages can provide some of the required
nutrients and the needed roughage for maintaining healthy ruminal
functions, when included as a portion of animal diets.


CHAPTER 3
SILAGE CHARACTERISTICS OF ELEPHANTGRASS AND ENERGYCANE
AS AFFECTED BY HARVEST FREQUENCY AND GENOTYPE
Introduction
Elephantgrass was ensiled and fed to cattle in Florida as early
as 1933 by Neal et al. (1935). Using the ensiling process to preserve
thick-stemmed, erect grasses such as elephantgrass is generally the
preferred method over other forms of storage. Making hay with
elephantgrass is not easily accomplished because of the problems
associated with the solar drying of thick stems and the large mass of
plant material produced per unit land area. The accumulation of
forage in the field (stockpiling) is generally an ineffective method
of storage because of the rapid decline in forage quality with
advancing plant age (Gomide et al., 1969).
Reports in the literature on the ensiling of elephantgrass are
not all positive. Davies ensiled chopped elephantgrass in miniature
cement tower silos which held approximately 135 kg of fresh material.
The elephantgrass was 2.5 m tall when harvested and contained 24% dry
matter (DM). Silos were sampled 50 days after packing. He reported
that a 45% loss in DM had occurred during storage which led him to
state that "there appears to be some peculiarity with this grass
[elephantgrass] in that it does not make good silage without the
addition of molasses" (1963, pp. 318-319). Conversely, Brown and
Chavalimu (1985) successfully ensiled 5-week-old elephantgrass
32


33
regrowth by hand-packing chopped plant material into two nested
polyethylene bags. Silage sampling took place after 2.5 months of
storage. A 96% DM recovery was reported.
The objectives of the following silage study, which is a
continuation of the experiment previously described in Chapter 2, were
to determine if elephantgrass and energycane gathered under different
harvest frequency regimes could be adequately preserved as silage and
to identify potential problems that could exist in the conversion of
the silage into animal or energy products.
Materials and Methods
Much of the fresh chopped plant materials generated during 1986-87
from the harvest frequency x genotype experiment described in Chaper 2
was ensiled using 20-liter plastic paint pails as portable silos.
Genotypes ensiled included PI 300086, Merkeron, and Mott elephantgrasses
and L79-1002 energycane. The field plots were harvested one, two, and
three times per season. During each harvest, biomass from three blocks
was ensiled for each treatment combination. Tall genotypes were
mechanically harvested with a John Deere model 3940 forage harvester,
which chopped the majority of the plant materials into 2- to 3-cm length
pieces. Mott dwarf elephantgrass could not be effectively harvested
with the forage harvester. It was cut down with a Stihl model FS 96
brushcutter and then chopped using the forage harvester. Each silo
was lined with two, 4-mil thick Ironclad trash compactor plastic
bags (North American Plastics Corp., Aurora, IL), then hand-packed
with 8 to 11 kg of fresh chopped biomass. After filling, the


34
liner bags were separately tied off with jute string. Each silo was
then weighed.
During field harvesting, subsamples were collected, then air-
dried at 60C to compute DM percentage. These samples were then used
to determine the forage quality parameters reported earlier in Chapter
2. In addition, fresh subsamples were collected in reclosable freezer
bags (2.7-mil thick) and frozen. These samples were used to determine
water soluble carbohydrate content and buffering capacity of original
biomass prior to ensiling.
Ensiling dates corresponded to the harvest periods reported in
Chapter 2. The silos filled during the 1986 season were sampled 10
months after the ensiling dates. The silos filled during the 1987
season were all sampled during the second week of February 1988. The
silos were weighed again just prior to sampling in order to calculate
DM recovery. The weight of a paint pail plus two trash compactor bags
was substrated from the weight of each packed silo before DM recovery
was computed.
During silo sampling, the spoilage that commonly occurred in the
top 4 to 5 cm of the stored biomass was discarded. The remaining
silage was placed in a 114-liter container and thoroughly mixed. A
sample was taken, placed in a freezer bag, and frozen immediately.
Another sample was collected and oven-dried at 60C to compute DM
percentage. It was then ground in a Wiley mill (1-mm mesh screen)
prior to analysis at the University of Florida Forage Evaluation
Support Laboratory at Gainesville, Florida, where the modified two-
stage technique by Moore and Mott (1974) was used to determine iji_


35
vitro organic matter digestibility. This procedure was performed on
the original biomass and corresponding silage at the same time, using
the same batch of rumen fluid inoculum.
At a later date, 25 g from each frozen silage sample were placed
in a blender with 225 ml of deionized water. The sample was then
lacerated for 2 minutes and filtered through several layers of
cheesecloth. It was thoroughly pressed to remove as much extract as
possible. This extract was used for silage quality determinations
including pH, acetic, butyric, and lactic acid contents (dry basis),
and ammoniacal N as a percentage of total N.
A Fisher Accumet digital pH meter (Fisher Scientific Corp.,
Pittsburgh, PA) calibrated with pH 4 and 7 buffer solutions, was used
to measure silage pH.
Acetic, butyric, and lactic acid levels were determined using a
Perkin-Elmer Sigma 3B gas chromatograph (Perkin-Elmer, Norwalk, CT).
Chromatograph specifications are as follows: Column packing, GP 10%
SP-1000/1% H^PO^ on 100/120 Chromosorb W AW (Supelco, Inc.,
Beliefonte, PA); Column type, 1.8 m x 2 mm ID glass; Column
temperature, 115-135C, varied with conditions; Flow rate, 30 ml/min.,
N2; Detector, FID; Sample injection size, 1.0 pi. The gas
chromatograph was calibrated with standards made from Supelco volatile
and non-volatile acid standard mixes. Procedures used to prepare
methyl derivatives of lactic acid from silage extracts were those
outlined by Supelco, Inc. (1985).
Analysis of total N in silage involved an aluminum block
digestion of fresh 5-g samples (Gallaher et al., 1975), followed by a


36
colorimetric determination using a Technicon Auto Analyzer (Technicon
Instruments Corp., Tarrytown, NY). For ammoniacal N determinations,
silage extracts were analyzed by using an adaptation of the ammonia-
salicylate reaction, followed by Technicon colorimetric procedures
(Noel and Hambleton, 1976).
The phenolsulfuric acid colorimetric procedure by Dubois et al.
(1956) and a Spectronic 20 colorimeter-spectrophotometer (Bausch and
Lomb Inc., Rochester, NY) were used to measure water soluble
carbohydrate content (dry basis) of original biomass before ensiling.
Buffering capacity, expressed as the number of milliequivalents
of NaOH required to raise one kg of biomass DM from pH 4 to 6, was
measured on fresh plant samples before ensiling by methods used by
Playne and McDonald (1966).
For each of the response parameters reported on in this chapter,
the observations recorded for the single harvests within a multiple
harvest treatment for each genotype were averaged into a single
observation before statistical analyses were conducted. The means for
most of the response variables from single harvests are shown in
tables contained in the Appendix.
Statistical procedures used to analyze silage data were the same
as those described in Chapter 2.
Results and Discussion
Biomass Characteristics Before Ensiling
Dry matter (DM) contents for 1986-87 are presented in Tables 11
and 12. Declining DM contents with more frequent harvesting was the


37
Table 11. Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane grown
under one, two, and three harvests in 1986 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Dry matter
Harvests in 1986
1
2
3
7
PI 300086
L**
33a§
26a
19b
Merkeron
L**
33a
25a
20ab
L79-1002^
L**
31a
24a
21a
Mott
L**
29
23
21
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


38
Table 12. Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane grown
under one, two, and three harvests in 1987 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Dry matter
Harvests in 1987
1
2
3
7
PI 300086
L** Q**
37a§
26a
20b
Merkeron
L**
34b
25a
20b
L79-1002*
L** Q*
33b
25a
22a
Mott L** Q** 33
24
25
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).
significant over
harvest


39
general pattern which is in agreement with the results reported by
Vicente-Chandler et al. (1959). Gomide et al. (1969) showed a strong
linear increase in DM content with advancing age of elephantgrass
plants. The harvest frequencies used in the present study provided
plant materials averaging from 19 to 37% DM for ensiling.
The optimum forage DM content for ensiling is generally
considered to be between 28 to 35%. Ensiling forages with DM contents
below 26% are subject to undesirable clostridial fermentation (Harris,
1984). Low DM silages require higher organic acid concentrations and
lower pHs to inhibit the growth and proliferation of Clostridia
bacteria. Clostridial growth is suppressed when the silage DM content
is above 35%. However, excluding oxygen during the packing of high DM
plant materials is more difficult because such materials are of lower
density (Vetter and Von Gian, 1978).
Full-season growth of elephantgrass genotypes contained the lower
levels of water soluble carbohydrates (WSCHO) whereas the more
immature forages from multiple harvest treatments had the higher
levels (Table 13). It should be noted that variations in WSCHO
content existed between individual cuttings within the multiple
harvest regimes. In 1987, the mean WSCHO contents of the tall
elephantgrasses (PI 300086 and Merkeron) for the first, second, and
third cuttings of the three harvests per season treatment were 10.4,
10.6, and 3.0% (dry basis), respectively. With the two harvests
treatment, the levels were 9.9 and 6.0% for the first and second
cuttings, respectively. Similar trends were observed for L79-1002
energycane. Low temperatures just prior to the final harvesting


40
Table 13. Water soluble carbohydrate (WSCHO) content of elephantgrass
and energycane grown under one, two, and three harvests in
1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
WSCHO
Harvests in 1987
Genotype F-test" 1 23
%, dry basis
PI 300086
L** Q*
5.8b§
8.4ab
8.2a
Merkeron
L**
4.4b
7.6b
7.9a
L79-1002t
L** Q**
9.5a
9.6a
7.1b
Mott
L**
2.6
4.6
7.0
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


41
period in 1987 caused considerable frost damage, particularly to the
youngest ratoon plants. The low levels of WSCHO were attributed to
cold damage. An interesting inconsistency occurred when the youngest
ratoon plants of PI 300086 and Merkeron elephantgrass (mean WSCHO
content of plants before ensiling was 3.0%, dry basis) from the third
cutting were ensiled. The mean pH value of silages made from these
cold-damaged plants was 3.9lower than expectedwhile the mean lactic
acid concentration was 6.8% (dry basis), which was higher than
expected, considering the low WSCHO levels in fresh biomass before
ensiling. Further research is needed before explanations can be given.
The WSCHO content of full-season L79-1002 energycane growth was
substantially higher than those of the elephantgrasses. Although
linear and quadratic effects are significant, it is still unclear how
WSCHO levels in energycane are affected by harvest frequency.
In Brazil, Veiga and Campos (1975) reported an average WSCHO
content of 6.5% (dry basis) for elephantgrass harvested at an advanced
stage of growth. With elephantgrass cut at 55 days of age, Tosi et
al. (1983) reported a mean content of 17.0%.
The buffering capacities of PI 300086 and L79-1002 forages
increased with more frequent harvesting (Table 14). Values measured
for full-season growth were exceptionally low. For both genotypes,
all values were substantially lower than those of other forage crops
reported by Woolford (1984). Woolford reviewed earlier literature and
presented a range of buffering capacities. The highest buffering
capacities shown were from temperate legumes including alfalfa
(Medicago sativa L.) and red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) with


42
Table 14. Buffering capacity of PI 300086 elephantgrass and L79-1002
energycane grown under one, two, and three harvests in 1987
at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Buffering capacity
Harvests in 1987
Genotype
F-test
1
2
3
Mon l^rr~l Twt
PI 300086
L**
52a§
78a
112b
L79-1002
L** Q**
45a
131a
146a
^Milliequivalents of NaOH required to raise the pH of one kg of
biomass DM from 4.0 to 6.0.
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
T
'Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


43
values of 480 and 560 meq NaOH kg-^ DM, respectively. Temperate
grasses including orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.), perennial
ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), and Italian ryegrass (X. multiflorum
Lam.) had intermediate values of 300, 350, and 430 meq, respectively.
Forage corn (Zea mays L.) had the lowest buffering capacity of 200
meq. Woolford suggested that the low buffering capacity partly
explains why corn is easier to ensile than other crops. It is
interesting to note the similarities between elephantgrass,
energycane, and forage corn. These tropical C-4 grass plants have
upright growth habits and large coarse stems where soluble
carbohydrates are stored. The possibility exists that other tropical
grasses with the same morphological features may tend to possess low
buffering capacities.
Tropical forages with low buffering capacities would require
smaller concentrations of lactic acid and other organic acids to be
produced during ensiling in order to reach an ideal low pH where
microbial activity would cease and preservation would occur. Thus,
there would be less of a requirement in standing forages for high
levels of available substrates (WSCH0) needed for a successful
ensilage fermentation.
According to Playne and McDonald (1966) the anionic moiety,
mainly organic acids, of plant biomass contributes 68 to 80% to the
buffering capacity while plant proteins make up 10 to 20%.


44
Silage Characteristics
Average pH values recorded during both seasons for the tall
elephantgrass silages (PI 300086 and Merkeron) ranged narrowly from 3.8
to 4.0 (Tables 15 and 16). In 1986, pH values for Merkeron increased
linearly with an increase in harvest frequency. Also, during both
seasons pH values for L79-1002 energycane and Mott dwarf elephantgrass
silages increased linearly with more frequent harvesting. The highest
pH values were consistently obtained from silages made from immature
Mott forages gathered from plots harvested three times per season.
During 1986, mean lactic acid contents of PI 300086 and Merkeron
silages (Table 17) ranged from 3.0 to 3.6% (dry basis). The following
season lactic acid levels for these tall elephantgrasses increased as
harvest frequency increased with means ranging from 1.4 to 5.3% (Table
18). Lactic acid contents for L79-1002 energycane silages decreased
linearly with more frequent harvesting during 1986, whereas no effect
was observed the next year. The lowest values were obtained from
L79-1002 silages made from the most immature plants during 1986. Mean
lactic acid contents were fairly constant for Mott silages.
Overall, acetic acid contents generally increased as the harvest
frequency increased (Tables 19 and 20). Mean acetic acid contents for
PI 300086 and Merkeron silages ranged from 0.25 to 1.58% (dry basis).
The higher means were usually obtained from L79-1002 energycane and Mott
elephantgrass silages that were made with immature plant materials from
multiple harvest treatments.
Silages made with plant materials from full-season growth in 1987
had as low or lower pH values than those made from immature plants


45
Table 15. The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made from
plants grown under one, two, and three harvests during 1986
at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Silage pH
Harvests in 1986
1
2
3
PI 300086
3.8a§
3.9a
4.0b
Merkeron
L**
3.8a
3.9a
4.0b
L79-1002t
L**
3.8a
3.9a
4.3a
Mott
L**
4.0
4.1
4.3
tEnergycane (Saccharum spp.).
O
yMeans in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


46
Table 16. The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made from
plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in 1987 at
Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Silage pH
Harvests in 1987
1
2
3
PI 300086
3.8a§
3.8b
3.8a
Merkeron
3.8b
3.8b
3.9a
L79-1002^
L*
3.8a
4.0a
4.0a
Mott
L**
4.0
4.2
4.4
"^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


47
Table 17. Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made from plants harvested one, two, and three times in
1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Lactic acid
Harvests in 1986
1
2
3
PI 300086
3.3a§
3.0a
3.6a
Merkeron
3.3a
3.4a
3.6a
L79-1002^
L**
3.2a
2.8a
0.7b
Mott
3.7
3.3
2.4
4*
'Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


48
Table 18. Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made from plants harvested one, two, and three times in
1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Lactic acid
Harvests in 1987
1
2
3
/o j ary uabib ~
PI 300086
L** Q*
1.4a§
2.6b
5.3a
Merkeron
L*
2.2a
4.1a
4.5ab
L79-1002^
1.7a
2.2b
3.0b
Mott
2.3
3.2
2.0
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, PC0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


49
Table 19. Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made from plants harvested one, two, and three times in
1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Acetic acid
Harvests in 1986
1
2
3
PI 300086
0.40a§
0.33a
1.49b
Merkeron
L*
0.40a
0.75a
1.58b
L79-1002t
L** Q*
0.43a
0.65a
2.55a
Mott
0.72
1.45
2.19
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
S
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


50
Table 20. Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made from plants harvested one, two, and three times in
1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Acetic acid
Harvests in 1987
Genotype
F-test
1
2
3
PI 300086
0.25b§
0.73a
0.69b
Merkeron
L**
0.29b
0.77a
1.32ab
L79-1002t
L*
0.46a
1.65a
1.71a
Mott L** Q** 0.28
2.18
2.21
^"Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
'Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are
treatments, P<0.01 (#*) or P<0.05 (*).
significant over
harvest


51
which were gathered from plots harvested multiple times per season.
(This also occurred in 1986.) At first, these data appear to be
inconsistent since the original fresh biomass from mature full-season
plants that year contained the lowest WSCHO concentrations, with
L79-1002 energycane being an exception (Table 13). In addition,
corresponding silages contained lower concentrations of lactic and
acetic acids, compared to those silages made from immature plants.
These results can be explained by using the buffering capacities of
fresh materials that were recorded prior to ensiling in 1987 (Table
14). The fresh forages from full-season plants contained
exceptionally low buffering capacities (i.e., low resistance to
changes in pH). Therefore, lower concentrations of fermentative acids
(lactic and acetic) were needed to reduce the biomass pH to low levels
where bacterial activity stops. Since smaller amounts of these
organic acids were required, lower concentrations of convertible
substrates (WSCHO) in the original forages of full-season growth were
needed to reach that end-point.
Butyric acid concentration and ammoniacal N content, expressed as
a percentage of total biomass N, in silage indicate the extent of
undesirable secondary fermentations by Clostridia bacteria.
Saccharolytic and proteolytic clostridial fermentations can result in
greater losses of dry matter as compared to a lactic acid
fermentation. In addition, end-products formed by clostridial
fermentations can negatively affect voluntary intake in ruminant
animals (Wilkinson et al., 1976).


52
Mean butyric acid levels (not shown) in PI 300086, Merkeron, and
L79-1002 silages were low during both seasons. Average butyric acid
concentrations in these silages ranged from values near zero to 0.02%
(dry basis). For Mott silages, means ranged from values near zero to
0.12%. No treatment effects were obtained.
Ammoniacal N percentages of total N for PI 300086 elephantgrass
and L79-1002 energycane silages for 1987 are listed in Table 21. Mean
ammoniacal N values for both grasses ranged from 7.7 to 11.0%. For
PI 300086 elephantgrass silages, a linear decrease (P<0.01) in
ammoniacal N percentages with more frequent harvesting was obtained.
Several researchers from Brazil have conducted silage studies with
elephantgrass. Silveira et al. (1979) ensiled direct-cut 62-day
regrowth from four genotypes of elephantgrass. After 150 days of
storage, samples were collected. Mean silage pH values and lactic acid
contents varied from 4.1 to 4.4 and from 5.8 to 7.9% (dry basis),
respectively. Average acetic acid levels ranged from 2.7 to 5.9% (dry
basis). Butyric acid levels reported varied from 0.01 to 0.03% (dry
basis) whereas mean ammoniacal N percentages of total N ranged from 13.3
to 17.6. With elephantgrass ensiled at 9 to 10 weeks of age, Vilela et
al. (1983) reported an average silage pH of 3.9. Mean lactic, acetic,
and butyric acid contents were 1.5, 2.0, and 0.23% (dry basis),
respectively. The mean ammoniacal N level was 17.3% of total N. Veiga
and Campos (1975) ensiled direct-cut elephantgrass at an advanced stage
of growth. The forages used contained 28% DM and 3.6% crude protein
(dry basis). With their controls (no additives) the mean silage pH and
lactic acid content was 3.9 and 2.2% (dry basis), respectively.


53
Table 21. Ammoniacal N percentage of total N in PI 300086
elephantgrass and L79-1002 energycane silages made from
plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in 1987 at
Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Ammoniacal
N
Harvests in
1987
1
2
3
<7
PI 300086
L**
11.0a§
10.5a
9.6a
L79-1002
L* Q*
10.1a
7.7b
8.6a
o
uieans in the
same column
followed by the same letter
are not
different at
the 5% level according to
DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


54
Many attempts have been made to index silage fermentation quality
according to various guidelines. The Breirem and Ulvesli system
outlined by McCullough (1978) characterizes desirable silages as those
having pH values lower than 4.2; lactic and acetic acid contents
ranging from 1.5 to 2.5% and from 0.5 to 0.8% (dry basis),
respectively; butyric acid levels that are below 0.1% (dry basis) and
ammoniacal N levels that do not exceed 5 to 8% of total biomass N.
Using the guidelines above to rank the silages in the present
study, silages made from immature forages harvested from plots cut
three times per season should be considered the lowest in terms of
fermentation quality due mainly to the elevated acetic acid levels and
the higher pH values that were recorded, particularly with those
silages made from L79-1002 energycane and Mott dwarf elephantgrass.
The silages made from full-season growth are the highest in
fermentation quality while those made from plants harvested two times
per season could be considered intermediate. It should be noted that
silage quality expressed in terms of animal performance or methane
yield may result in different "quality" rankings.
The Flieg point system modified by Zimmer and outlined by
Woolford (1984) is a scoring procedure that is used for the quality
indexing of silages. Scores range from zero to 100 where the latter
number is the most desirable. Scoring is based on the relative
proportions of acetic, butyric, and lactic acids to the total sum of
these acids contained in a silage. More points are awarded to a
silage when lactic acid, expressed as a percentage of total acids,


55
makes up the larger portion whereas fewer points are given when acetic
and butyric acids make up the larger portions of total acids.
In the present study, the mean lactic acid portions of total
acids during both seasons varied from 69 to 90% in PI 300086 and
Merkeron elephantgrass silages for all harvest treatments (Tables 22
and 23). The energycane L79-1002 and Mott elephantgrass silages made
from full-season growth also had high lactic acid percentages.
However, with multiple harvests, lactic acid made up smaller portions
due to the relative increase of acetic acid. From the same tables,
the mean acetic acid percentages of total acids can be closely
approximated by subtracting the mean lactic acid percentages from 100,
since butyric acid contents in silages were negligible. Furthermore,
the statistical results shown in Tables 22 and 23 were the same for
acetic acid percentages. Overall, there was a tendency for the mean
lactic acid percentages to decrease with more frequent harvesting.
Conversely, the acetic acid percentages tended to increase.
Average Flieg scores for PI 300086 and Merkeron silages over all
harvest treatments ranged from 84 to 100 (Tables 24 and 25).
According to the Flieg index system, these scores denote very high
silage quality. Lower scores were associated with silages made from
immature L79-1002 energycane and Mott elephantgrass forages. The
lowest mean score of 51, however, reflects average quality.
From a strict quantitative standpoint, one of the best indicators of
the effectiveness of the ensilage process on the preservation of biomass
is DM recovery. During both seasons, average DM recoveries for all


56
Table 22. Lactic acid percentage of total acids in elephantgrass and
energycane silages made from plants grown under one, two,
and three harvests in 1986 at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL.
Lactic acid
Harvests in 1986
Genotype
F-test"
1
2
3
PI 300086
88a§
90a
72a
Merkeron
89a
81a
69a
L79-1002
L** Q**
88a
81a
21b
Mott 82
69
53
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
Total acids include acetic, butyric,
and
lactic acids.
§
Means in the same column followed by
different at the 5% level according
the same letter are not
to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


57
Table 23. Lactic acid percentage of total acids in elephantgrass and
energycane silages made from plants grown under one, two,
and three harvests in 1987 at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Lactic acid
Harvests in 1987
1
2
3
/o OI LULal aClQS
PI 300086
86a§
78ab
88a
Merkeron
L**
87a
84a
77ab
L79-1002^
78b
56b
62b
Mott
L** Q*
89
59
47
^Energycane
(Saccharum spp.).
^Total acids
include acetic,
butyric,
and lactic acids.
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


58
Table 24. Flieg score of elephantgrass and energycane silages made
from plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in
1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FI.
Genotype
F-test^
Total Flieg points
Harvests in 1986
1
2
3
PI 300086
99a§
100a
87a
Merkeron
100a
96a
84a
L79-10021
L** Q**
100a
97a
51b
Mott
84
84
65
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


59
Table 25. Flieg score of elephantgrass and energycane silages made
from plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in
1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Total Flieg points
Harvests in 1987
1
2
3
PI 300086
99a§
93a
100a
Merkeron
99ab
97a
94ab
L79-1002^
94b
69b
76b
Mott
L** Q**
100
70
63
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
j
Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


60
treatment combinations ranged from 84 to 98% (Tables 26 and 27).
Although some linear effects did appear, it is still unclear how DM
recovery is affected by harvest frequency. It is interesting to note
that with an ensiling method similar to the one used in the present
study, Brown and Chavalimu (1985) reported a 96% DM recovery for
elephantgrass harvested at 5 weeks of age.
Utilization of Elephantgrass Silage
At this point it is reasonable to conclude that elephantgrass at
various stages of plant maturity can be successfully stored for
prolonged periods using the ensilage process. However, further
investigation is needed to determine the types of silages that can be
most efficiently transformed into commercial products such as meat,
milk, and biogas.
In ruminant nutrition, animal performance is a function of
voluntary intake and digestibility of the forage being fed (Moore and
Mott, 1973). In the present study, the ensiling of elephantgrass and
energycane did not result in major changes in the original IVOMDs
shown in Tables 5 and 6 of Chapter Two. The mean percentage point
differences during 1986-87 between IVOMDs before and after ensiling
(Silage IVOMD Original IVOMD = Difference) ranged from -9.4 to +4.2
(Table 28). The overall mean difference for all treatment
combinations during both years was -1.6. It should be noted that the
IVOMD values recorded for ensiled plant materials (not shown) may have
been slightly underestimated due to the losses of volatile substances
during the oven-drying of samples. The Moore and Mott (1974) IVOMD


61
Table 26. Dry matter recovery of elephantgrass and energycane forages
that were stored by ensiling in 1986 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Dry matter recovery
Harvests in 1986
1 2 3
Average^
7
PI 300086
88
90
89
89a
Merkeron
91
89
87
89a
L79-1002^
91
87
88
89a
Overall average
90
89
88
Mott
L**
94
87
86
89
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


62
Table 27. Dry matter recovery of elephantgrass and energycane forages
that were stored by ensiling in 1987 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Dry matter recovery
Harvests in 1987
Genotype F-test'
1
2
3
Average^
7
PI 300086
91
93
96
94a
Merkeron
92
92
93
92a
L79-1002t
84
89
92
89b
Overall average L**
89
91
94
Mott
98
92
94
95
^Ener gycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
If
Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).


63
Table 28. Mean percentage point difference between in vitro organic
matter digestibilities before and after the ensiling of
elephantgrass and energycane which were gathered from plots
harvested one, two, and three times per year at the Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1986-87.
Genotype
Year
IVOMD difference
Harvests yr-^
1
2
3
<7
PI 300086
1986
2.6§
-1.6
-0.4
Merkeron
1986
-0.9
-3.2
-1.3
L79-1002t
1986
0.5
-5.9*
-1.9
Mott
1986
-0.4
-3.8*
1.3
PI 300086
1987
-4.6
-2.8
2.2**
Merkeron
1987
-4.3
-5.2
1.3*
L79-1002
1987
-9.4*
-5.7*
-1.5
Mott
1987
2.7*
-0.2
4.2*
tEnergycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Differences were computed as follows: Silage IVOMD Original
IVOMD = Difference.
*,**Original forage and corresponding silage IVOMDs were significantly
different at the 5 and 1% levels, respectively, according to the
F-test.


64
procedure used for determinations involved 105C oven-drying of
previously dried samples (at 60C) for 15 hours. Nevertheless, the
data clearly demonstrate that ensiling is not a major factor affecting
IVOMD. Therefore, the major factors affecting silage IVOMD would be
the same as those affecting the IVOMD of original biomass such as
harvest frequency and genotype. Working with sheep, Demarquilly
(1973) observed similar results. Mean percentage point differences in
apparent organic matter digestibility (corrected for volatile losses)
between initial forages of several plant species and their
corresponding silages ranged from -12.8 to +3.0. He concluded that
the digestibility of ensiled material is mainly dependent on that of
the original plant herbage at the time of harvest.
Many studies have shown the voluntary intake of silage to be
lower than that of the original forage prior to ensiling (Wilkinson et
al., 1976). The magnitudes of these reductions can be highly
variable. Working with sheep, Demarquilly (1973) reported reductions
in voluntary intake of silages that were made from several forage
species, ranging from one to 64% when compared to the intakes of the
original standing forages. The greater reductions in intake were
attributed to silages with higher levels of volatile fatty acids,
particularly acetic acid. The lesser reductions were related to
silages that contained mostly lactic acid as the end-product of
fermentation. Wilkins et al. (1971) also showed that the voluntary
intake of sheep was negatively correlated with acetic acid contents in
silages made from several forage species. Furthermore, their results
showed that silage Flieg scores and intake were positively correlated.


65
In the present study, the silages containing the higher levels of
acetic acid such as those made from immature Mott dwarf elephantgrass
are the most likely to have problems with reduced voluntary intake.
In the literature, daily voluntary intakes of elephantgrass
silage have been variable. In Cuba, Michelena et al. (1979) fed
elephantgrass silage ad_ libitum plus minerals over a 160- to 180-day
period to holstein x zebu bulls averaging 247 kg in liveweight. The
silage contained 26% DM and a crude protein content of 4.8% (dry
basis). Mean daily consumption of DM was 2.4% of liveweight. In
Brazil, Vilela et al. (1983) fed elephantgrass silage to holstein x
Zebu heifers averaging 258 kg in liveweight. The silage was made from
9- to 10-week old forage and contained 21% DM and 4.4% crude protein
(dry basis). Average daily consumption of DM was estimated to be 2.7%
of liveweight.
On the negative side, Cunha and Silva (1977) reported that
elephantgrass silage (ensiled with 3% molasses) fed alone during the
dry period in Brazil was inadequate for maintaining acceptable
production of cows just prior to and after calving. Silage
composition was 21% DM, 54% total digestible nutrients, and 8.1% crude
protein (dry basis). The ad libitum feeding of the silage plus salt
and minerals resulted in excessive postpartum weight loss of the cows,
poor calf development, and a reduced rebreeding percentage when
compared to a pasture feeding system. The poor performance was
attributed to inadequate daily DM consumption. The average daily
intake of DM was only 5.8 kg. The mean initial weight of the cows was
507 kg. In India, Nooruddiu and Roy (1975) fed elephantgrass silage


66
ad libitum plus salt to mature steers averaging 237 kg in liveweight.
The estimated contents of crude protein and total digestible nutrients
in the silage were 5.1 and 46% (dry basis), respectively. Mean daily
DM intake over an 18-day period was 1.3% of liveweight.
In a methane production system, the loading rate of biomass is
not under the voluntary control of anaerobic digesters. It can be
controlled and adjusted by the operator to optimize conversion rates
depending on the given circumstances. Therefore, loading rate should
not be a potential limiting factor as voluntary intake is in livestock
feeding systems. Furthermore, high levels of acetic acid in silage
which limits voluntary intake in ruminants, should not be a problem in
anaerobic methane digestion, since it is a major substrate used by
methanogenic bacteria (Gottschalk, 1979). However, if acetic acid is
the major end-product of the ensilage process, the quality of
preservation could be reduced because it is a weaker acid compared to
lactic acid. This would increase the chances of substantial DM losses
during a prolonged storage period.
The DM losses that occur during normal ensiling fermentations may
not greatly reduce the potential methane production per unit of land
area that is expected from a system where the biomass after harvesting
is immediately placed in a methane digester. The gross energy content
is as much as 10% greater per unit dry matter in silage than in the
initial biomass before ensiling (Woolford, 1984). In the present
study, methane yields per kg of volatile solid from a limited number
of samples, have been higher for elephantgrass silage than those of
original fresh biomass. Average methane yields for fresh PI 300096


67
elephantgrass gathered during the first cutting within the three
-1 3
harvest yr treatment during 1986 and 1987 were 0.28 and 0.29 std m
kg-'* VS, respectively. Average yields from the corresponding silages
were 0.33 and 0.33 std m respectively. The methane yields of silage
samples may, however, be inflated due to problems associated with the
estimation of DM content of silage. At the Bioprocess Engineering
Research Laboratory where the bioassays were conducted, an 105C oven
temperature was used for drying silage samples. At that temperature
significant losses of volatile substances may have occurred during
drying. Further detailed investigations are needed to determine if
ensiling biomass improves methane yield.
Conclusions
Elephantgrass and energycane grown under one, two, and three
harvests per season can be successfully stored for prolonged periods
through the process of ensilage fermentation and without the use of
additives. The success of ensiling these erect bunchgrasses in the
present study is associated with a combination of desirable
characteristics of the original fresh biomass. The fresh chopped
plant materials apparently contained adequate levels of water soluble
carbohydrates that provided energy for fermentation bacteria to
proliferate. In addition, the initial forages possessed low buffering
capacities (low resistances to pH changes). This combination of
attributes of the freshly harvested herbage helps to explain the ease
with which these grasses were ensiled.


68
Lactic acid was the primary end-product of fermentation in
silages made from the tall elephantgrass genotypes PI 300086 and
Merkeron under all harvest frequencies and from the full-season growth
of L79-1002 energycane and Mott dwarf elephantgrass. However, with
silages made from immature plants of L79-1002 and Mott, analysis
showed that lactic and acetic acids were both major end-components of
silage fermentation. The elevated acetic acid levels in Mott silages
may negatively affect voluntary intake of ruminants. In a methane
energy production system acetic acid being a major end-product of
fermentation, should not affect methane yields per volatile solid of
silage, but could reduce the preservation quality of the biomass,
leading to greater chances of losing substantial amounts of DM during
a prolonged storage period.
From a strict quantitative standpoint, the forages produced
during the present study were effectively stored using the ensilage
process. However, further investigations are needed to determine from
an ultimate production standpoint, whether elephantgrass and
energycane can be stored as silage and then efficiently converted into
meat, milk, or energy products.


CHAPTER 4
GENERAL SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Elephantgrass is a perennial erect-growing bunchgrass indigenous
to the wet equatorial areas in Africa. Recently, interests in this
plant species have increased in several agricultural disciplines.
Highly productive "tall" genotypes can be utilized as a biomass crop
for energy or a soilage crop for ruminants such as dairy and beef
cattle. For grazing animals, "dwarf" genotypes have been shown to be
of high forage quality and are persistent under moderate grazing
conditions.
In a 2-year study conducted on a dry, infertile site and under
the subtropical conditions near Gainesville, the response of
elephantgrass to three harvest frequencies was measured. Genotypes
evaluated were four "tall" elephantgrasses (PI 300086, Merkeron, N-43,
and N-51), a "dwarf" elephantgrass ('Mott'), a "semi-dwarf" Pennisetum
glaucum (L.) R. Br. x _P. purpureum Schum. hybrid (Selection No. 3) and
a "tall" Saccharum species of energycane (L79-1002). To determine if
these grasses could be stored as silage, the fresh chopped plant
materials of PI 300086, Merkeron, Mott, and L79-1002 were hand-packed
into 20-liter plastic containers lined with two 4-mil plastic bags.
Average dry biomass yields for the four tall elephantgrasses
during the 1986-87 growing seasons were 27, 24, and 18 Mg ha ^ yr ^
for one, two, and three harvests per season, respectively. In vitro
organic matter digestibilities were 40, 49, and 55%, while crude
69


70
protein contents were 4.0, 5.8, and 7.9% (dry basis), respectively.
Two-year averages for ash-free neutral detergent fiber were 81, 76,
and 74% (dry basis).
Oven dry biomass yields for L79-1002 energycane were inferior to
the tall elephantgrasses during 1986 but did not differ the following
season. Energycane yields declined with more frequent harvesting.
For the dwarf elephantgrass Mott, 2-year average dry biomass
yields were 13, 12, and 11 Mg ha ^ yr ^ for one, two, and three
harvests per season, respectively. In vitro organic matter
digestibilities were 40, 54, and 57%, while crude protein contents
were 5.3, 7.1, and 9.6%, respectively. Two-year means for neutral
detergent fiber were 77, 73, and 70%.
Elephantgrass genotypes Merkeron, N-43, N-51, and Mott and
L79-1002 energycane survived the experimental conditions. The
genotype PI 300086 was susceptible to winterkill, particularly when
harvested multiple times per season. An almost complete loss of stand
occurred in Selection No. 3 plots during the 2-year study.
Predicted methane production ha ^ for PI 300086 elephantgrass was
similar for the three harvest treatments, although the highest values
were recorded from two harvests per season.
Mean pH values ranged from 3.8 to 4.0 for the tall elephantgrass
silages made from plants harvested at the different frequencies. The
highest pH values were obtained from silages made from immature Mott
plants harvested three times yr ^ (2-year mean was 4.3). Water
soluble carbohydrate contents of fresh elephantgrass forages (range:
2.6 to 8.4%, dry basis) tended to increase with more frequent


71
harvesting. Buffering capacities of fresh PI 300086 and L79-1002
biomass were exceptionally low and also increased with more frequent
harvesting. Mean buffering capacities were less than 150 meq NaOH
kg 1 DM. Dry matter contents of fresh biomass decreased with more
frequent harvesting for all genotypes during both growing seasons.
Lactic acid was the major end-product of fermentation in most silages
with the exception of those made from immature Mott elephantgrass and
L79-1002 energycane plants where lactic and acetic acids were both
major components. Average lactic acid contents during both seasons
ranged from 1.4 to 5.3% (dry basis) for the elephantgrasses whereas
mean acetic acid levels ranged from 0.25 to 2.21% (dry basis). Acetic
acid contents in silages tended to increase when original plant
materials before ensiling were more immature and succulent as compared
to more mature materials. Butyric acid levels were negligible in all
silages. Mean ammoniacal N percentages of total N in PI 300086 and
L79-1002 silages ranged from 7.7 to 11.0. Dry matter recoveries for
all silages ranged from 84 to 98%. The in vitro organic matter
digestibility of silage was mainly dependent on the IV0MD of the
standing forages before ensiling.
The results of this study suggest the following general
conclusions:
(1) Substantial biomass yields of elephantgrass can be produced
without irrigation on dry, infertile sites and under the colder
subtropical climate of North Central Florida.
(2) For the four tall elephantgrasses and L79-1002 energycane,
as the number of harvests per growing season increases, the dry


72
biomass yields decline. With Mott dwarf elephantgrass, biomass yields
are less affected by the harvest frequencies included in this study.
(3) For tall and dwarf elephantgrasses, forage crude protein
contents and IVOMDs increase as the number of harvests per growing
season increases. Neutral detergent fiber concentrations gradually
decrease; however, major reductions do not occur.
(4) Variation in survival tolerance to increased harvest
frequency and the subtropical conditions near Gainesville exists among
genotypes. Elephantgrass genotypes Merkeron, N-43, N-51, and Mott and
L79-1002 energycane could be recommended for planting in the area
while PI 300086 and Selection No. 3 are not suitable.
(5) Elephantgrass and energycane grown under one, two, and three
harvests per growing season can be successfully stored for prolonged
periods through the ensiling process and without the use of additives.
(6) The ease with which the elephantgrasses and energycane were
ensiled can be attributed to adequate levels of water soluble
carbohydrates and the inherently low buffering capacities in the
standing forages at the time of harvest.
The data show that many of the forages and silages produced in
this study are potential sources of feedstocks that could be converted
into animal and energy products. However, before other definite
conclusions can be made, further investigations involving the actual
components of conversion systems are needed (i.e., involving animals
and anaerobic digesters). If problems do exist in a system such as
inadequate animal intake or insufficient net energy production, for
example, then it is likely they can be identified.


APPENDIX


Table 29. Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville,
FL.
Oven dry biomass yield
Harvests in 1986^
2
3
Genotype 1st 2nd 1st 2nd 3rd
Mg ha
PI 300086
15.51
14.21
7.19
8.25
6.32
Merkeron
15.57
12.10
7.68
8.51
5.19
N-43
15.27
12.05
6.64
7.90
4.62
N-51
15.51
12.04
5.67
7.30
5.01
L79-1002*
9.06
9.61
3.71
6.90
3.70
Selection No. 3^
9.02
8.67
3.91
5.54
2.46
Mott
8.20
6.56
3.96
5.14
2.66
f

§
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
For oven dry biomass yield of full-season growth refer to Table
1.
74


75
Table 30. Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville,
FL.
Genotype
Oven dry biomass
yield
Harvests in 1987§
l
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
. Ma !->o 1
PI 300086
12.34
7.93
4.80
5.55
2.54
Merkeron
12.51
8.26
6.74
7.32
2.10
N-43
12.48
8.10
6.34
6.61
1.98
N-51
11.64
6.46
6.49
7.29
2.34
L79-1002*
9.37
8.50
4.16
7.07
2.44
Selection No. 3^
2.93
1.14
3.40
2.63
0.19
Mott
5.83
3.39
4.51
4.46
0.79
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
For oven dry biomass yield of full-season growth refer to Table 2.


76
Table 31. Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville,
FL.
Genotype
Crude protein
Harvests in 1986
§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
/o, ary Uasis
PI 300086
6.02
5.20
6.87
9.39
7.46
Merkeron
5.98
4.70
6.86
9.25
8.08
N-43
8.18
5.59
7.23
9.18
7.37
N-51
5.44
5.11
7.29
9.31
8.03
L79-1002t
5.93
5.11
8.05
8.40
7.06
Selection No. 3^
8.42
6.49
7.30
11.13
10.62
Mott
7.53
6.17
7.36
10.21
8.74
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
§
For crude protein content of full-season growth refer to Table 3.


77
Table 32. Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during
FL.
1987 at Green
Acres
research farm
near (
Gainesville,
Crude protein
Harvests in 1987
§
2
3
Genotype
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
/o, ary Dasis
PI 300086
5.66
6.52
5.79
6.40
10.37
Merkeron
5.62
6.20
5.94
6.25
10.39
N-43
4.84
6.26
7.06
6.78
11.27
N-51
4.94
6.34
6.35
6.61
10.27
L79-1002
5.29
6.03
7.05
5.67
9.24
Selection
No. 3*
7.65

9.96
9.36

Mott
6.09
8.54
7.37
7.59
16.31
1*
'Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
i
+Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
For crude protein content of full-season growth refer to Table 4.


78
Table 33. In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1986 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
IVOMD
Harvests in 1986^
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
<7
PI 300086
46.2
48.2
55.6
55.5
53.8
Merkeron
48.5
49.6
58.5
56.9
51.7
N-43
52.5
50.9
58.8
57.2
52.7
N-51
49.4
48.9
57.7
56.1
54.1
L79-1002^
47.5
47.4
51.1
50.7
48.7
Selection No. 3^
57.4
54.3
61.2
59.9
48.2
Mott
55.4
54.1
61.6
59.9
51.3
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
8
For IVOMD of full-season growth refer to Table 5.


79
Table 34. In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1987 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
IVOMD
Harvests in 1987§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
PI 300086
50.8
43.6
58.1
49.5
54.0
Merkeron
53.7
46.8
59.6
53.1
50.9
N-43
51.3
46.3
59.7
54.1
52.3
N-51
51.2
42.9
59.5
52.8
52.5
L79-1002
47.8
46.9
52.2
45.2
53.1
Selection No. 3^
57.2

60.0
54.3

Mott
59.3
47.4
58.3
57.8
51.4
1*
'Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
+
*Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
O
sFor IVOMD of full-season growth refer to Table 6.


80
Table 35. Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1986 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
NDF
Harvests in 1986§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
a
/
o, til y uaai:
PI 300086
80.6
75.1
77.3
75.0
74.7
Merkeron
76.4
75.7
73.8
73.9
71.6
N-43
75.5
74.5
75.2
72.9
73.0
N-51
77.7
76.5
75.3
73.2
72.3
L79-1002^
78.0
77.5
76.0
77.2
77.9
Selection No. 3^
71.3
72.7
68.6
68.0
67.4
Mott
73.0
73.4
69.8
71.0
68.5
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
yFor NDF content of full-season growth refer to Table 7.


81
Table 36. Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1987 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
NDF
Harvests in 1987^
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
q
A
o ary Dasis
PI 300086
76.5
78.5
74.9
80.4
73.6
Merkeron
74.8
76.1
73.6
77.4
73.5
N-43
76.2
74.8
72.0
77.0
73.2
N-51
76.7
78.0
73.1
77.1
72.2
L79-1002^
76.8
75.4
77.3
81.6
75.5
Selection No. 3*
67.7

66.4
71.6

Mott
69.9
74.7
69.3
73.8
65.6
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
§
For NDF content of full-season growth refer to Table 8.


82
Table 37. Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville,
FL.
Genotype
Dry matter
Harvests in 1986
§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
<7
PI 300086
22.7
29.5
17.5
18.8
20.6
Merkeron
21.3
29.5
16.5
19.0
24.6
L79-1002*
22.0
26.6
18.4
21.6
23.1
Mott
21.2
25.4
20.3
18.5
22.9
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
C
yFor dry matter content of full-season growth refer to Table 11.


S3
Table 38. Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville,
FL.
Genotype
Dry matter
Harvests in 1987
§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
PI 300086
25.3
27.4
18.9
20.5
19.4
Merkeron
23.0
26.9
17.3
19.5
24.0
L79-1002^
21.8
28.3
20.3
20.2
26.3
Mott
20.0
28.0
19.1
20.0
35.4
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
o
yFor dry matter content of full-season growth refer to Table 12.


84
Table 39. Water soluble carbohydrate (WSCHO) content of elephantgrass
and energycane from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments made during 1987 at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL.
WSCHO
Harvests in 1987§
2
3
Genotype
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
dry basis
/o ,
PI 300086
10.64
6.09
10.43
10.88
3.16
Merkeron
9.12
5.98
10.28
10.38
2.92
L79-1002^
12.04
7.06
8.52
8.73
4.18
Mott
7.17
1.97
7.79
6.13

^Energycane
(Saccharum spp.).
§For WSCHO
content of full-season growth
refer to
Table 13.


85
Table 40. Buffering capacity of PI 300086 elephantgrass and L79-1002
energycane from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments made during 1987 at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
Buffering capacity
Harvests in 1987§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
~ Wnrra
Twt
PI 300086
76.2
78.9
99.8
81.3
156.2
L79-1002
148.7
112.7
175.3
130.0
131.9
^Milliequivalents of NaOH required to
raise the pH of one kg
of
biomass DM from 4.0 to 6.0

§
For buffering
capacity of
full-season
growth refer to Table
14.


86
Table 41. The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made with
plants from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments during
Gainesville, FL.
1986 at
Green Acres research farm
near
Silage
pH
Harvests in
1986§
2
3
Genotype
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
PI 300086
3.91
3.81
3.92
4.03
3.92
Merkeron
3.91
3.86
3.97
4.02
4.14
L79-1002^
3.97
3.88
4.10
4.39
4.33
Mott
4.21
4.08
4.05
4.50
4.26
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
yFor pH of silages made from full-season growth refer to Table 15.


87
Table 42. The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made with
plants from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments during
Gainesville, FL.
1987 at
Green Acres research farm
near
Silage
pH
Harvests in
1987§
2
3
Genotype
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
PI 300086
3.80
3.76
3.89
3.76
3.89
Merkeron
3.81
3.71
3.88
3.79
3.94
L79-1002^
4.17
3.83
4.11
4.06
3.95
Mott
4.23
4.27
4.33
4.42

4*
'Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
ror pH of silages made from full-season growth refer to Table 16.


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81,9(56,7< 2) )/25,'$ LLLLLQLLLMLLLLLLLLQLQLLLL


BIOMASS YIELD AND SILAGE CHARACTERISTICS OF ELEPHANTGRASS (Pennisetum
purpureum SCHUM.) AS AFFECTED BY HARVEST FREQUENCY AND GENOTYPE
BY
KENNETH ROBERT WOODARD
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

Dedicated to my parents
Mark and Mozelle Woodard

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The author wishes to express his sincere gratitude to Dr. Gordon
M. Prine, Professor of Agronomy and chairman of the supervisory
committee, for his support and guidance throughout the research
program and for review of this manuscript. Appreciation is further
extended to the members of the supervisory committee, Dr. Douglas B.
Bates and Dr. William E. Kunkle, Assistant and Associate Professors of
Animal Science, and Dr. Loy V. Crowder and Dr. Stanley C. Schank,
Professors of Agronomy, for their contributions to the research
program and manuscript reviews.
Special thanks are given to Thomas Burton and Anthony Sweat for
assisting the author in several phases of this study.
The author wishes to recognize Jeanette Filer, Angelita Mariano,
and Alvin Boning, Animal Science Department, for their endless
patience and invaluable assistance in the laboratory.
The author is grateful to Jose Franca for giving meaning to
several Brazilian articles that were written in Portuguese and cited
in this report.
The author is also grateful to Mrs. Patricia French for typing
the manuscript.
Finally, the author expresses his appreciation to the Gas
Research Institute, Chicago, Illinois, and the Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, Gainesville, Florida, for co-funding this
research.
in

TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS in
LIST OF TABLES v
LIST OF FIGURES x
ABSTRACT xi
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 1
CHAPTER 2 BIOMASS YIELD AND QUALITY CHARACTERISTICS OF
ELEPHANTGRASS AS AFFECTED BY HARVEST FREQUENCY
AND GENOTYPE 3
Introduction 3
Materials and Methods 5
Results and Discussion 11
Oven Dry Biomass Yields 11
Crude Protein, Ln Vitro Organic Matter Digesti¬
bility, and Neutral Detergent Fiber 15
Winter Survival 24
Methane Production 26
Animal Performance 28
Conclusions 30
CHAPTER 3 SILAGE CHARACTERISTICS OF ELEPHANTGRASS AND
ENERGYCANE AS AFFECTED BY HARVEST FREQUENCY AND
GENOTYPE 32
Introduction 32
Materials and Methods 33
Results and Discussion 36
Biomass Characteristics Before Ensiling 36
Silage Characteristics 44
Utilization of Elephantgrass Silage 60
Conclusions 67
CHAPTER 4 GENERAL SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS 69
APPENDIX 74
LITERATURE CITED 93
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 98
IV

LIST OF TABLES
TABLE PAGE
1 Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes grown
under one, two, and three harvests per year at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1986.... 12
2 Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes grown
under one, two and three harvests per year at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1987.... 13
3 Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes grown
under one, two, and three harvests per year at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1986.... 16
4 Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes grown
under one, two, and three harvests per year at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1987.... 17
5 In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1986 19
6 In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1987 20
7 Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1986 21
8 Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1987 22
9 Stand survival of elephantgrass genotypes following the
1986-87 growing seasons with plots harvested one, two,
and three times per year at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL 25
v

10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
PAGE
Average predicted methane production of PI 300086
elephantgrass harvested one, two, and three times per
season at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville,
FL, during the 1986-87 growing seasons 27
Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane
grown under one, two, and three harvests in 1986 at
Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 37
Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane
grown under one, two, and three harvests in 1987 at
Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 38
Water soluble carbohydrate (WSCHO) content of
elephantgrass and energycane grown under one, two, and
three harvests in 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 40
Buffering capacity of PI 300086 elephantgrass and
L79-1002 energycane grown under one, two, and three
harvests in 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 42
The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made from plants grown under one, two, and three harvests
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 45
The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made
from plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in
1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL... 46
Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made from plants harvested one, two, and three
times in 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 47
Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made from plants harvested one, two, and three
times in 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 48
Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made from plants harvested one, two, and three
times in 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 49
vi

TABLE
PAGE
20 Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made from plants harvested one, two, and three
times in 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 50
21 Ammoniacal N percentage of total N in PI 300086
elephantgrass and L79-1002 energycane silages made from
plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in 1987
at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 53
22 Lactic acid percentage of total acids in elephantgrass
and energycane silages made from plants grown under one,
two, and three harvests in 1986 at Green Acres research
farm near Gainesville, FL 56
23 Lactic acid percentage of total acids in elephantgrass
and energycane silages made from plants grown under one,
two, and three harvests in 1987 at Green Acres research
farm near Gainesville, FL 57
24 Flieg score of elephantgrass and energycane silages made
from plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in
1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL... 58
25 Flieg score of elephantgrass and energycane silages made
from plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in
1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL... 59
26 Dry matter recovery of elephantgrass and energycane
forages that were stored by ensiling in 1986 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 61
27 Dry matter recovery of elephantgrass and energycane
forages that were stored by ensiling in 1987 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 62
28 Mean percentage point difference between iri vitro
organic matter digestibilities before and after the
ensiling of elephantgrass and energycane which were
gathered from plots harvested one, two, and three times
per year at the Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1986-87 63
29Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 74
Vll

TABLE
PAGE
30 Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 75
31 Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 76
32 Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 77
33 In_ vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1986 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 78
34 In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1987 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 79
35 Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1986 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 80
36 Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1987 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 81
37 Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 82
38 Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 83
39Water soluble carbohydrate (WSCHO) content of
elephantgrass and energycane from single harvests
within multiple harvest treatments made during 1987 at
Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 84
viii

TABLE
PAGE
40 Buffering capacity of PI 300086 elephantgrass and
L79-1002 energycane from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1987 at Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL 85
41 The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made with
plants from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 86
42 The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made with
plants from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 87
43 Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made with plants from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments during 1986 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL 88
44 Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made with plants from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments during 1987 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL 89
45 Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made with plants from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments during 1986 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL 90
46 Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane
silages made with plants from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments during 1987 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL 91
47 Ammoniacal N percentage of total N in PI 300086
elephantgrass and L79-1002 energycane silages made with
plants from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL 92
IX

LIST OF FIGURES
FIGURE PAGE
1 Climatological data at Gainesville, Florida, for 1986.... 6
2 Climatological data at Gainesville, Florida, for 1987.... 7
x

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
BIOMASS YIELD AND SILAGE CHARACTERISTICS OF ELEPHANTGRASS (Pennisetum
purpureum SCHUM.) AS AFFECTED BY HARVEST FREQUENCY AND GENOTYPE
By
KENNETH ROBERT WOODARD
August 1989
Chairman: Dr. Gordon M. Prine
Major Department: Agronomy
Elephantgrass (Pennisetum purpureum Schum.) is being evaluated in
Florida as a biomass energy crop and a forage for ruminants. In a 2-year
study conducted on a dry, infertile site and under the subtropical
conditions near Gainesville, the response of this forage to three harvest
frequency regimes was measured. Genotypes evaluated were four "tall"
elephantgrasses (PI 300086, Merkeron, N-43, and N-51), a "dwarf"
elephantgrass ('Mott'), a "semi-dwarf" Pennisetum glaucum x _P. purpureum
hybrid (Selection No. 3), and a "tall" Saccharum species of energycane
(L79-1002). To determine if these grasses could be stored as silage, the
fresh chopped plant materials of PI 300086, Merkeron, Mott, and L79-1002
were hand-packed into 20-liter plastic containers lined with two 4-mil
plastic bags.
Mean dry biomass yields for the four tall elephantgrasses during
1986-87 were 27, 24, and 18 Mg ha ^ yr ^ for one, two, and three harvests
yr-^, respectively. In vitro organic matter digestibilities (IV0MD) were
40, 49, and 55% while crude protein (CP) contents were 4.0, 5.8, and 7.9%
xi

(dry basis), respectively. Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF)
contents were 81, 76, and 74% (dry basis). Predicted methane production
ha 1 yr ^ for PI 300086 was similar for all harvest treatments.
For Mott dwarf elephantgrass, 2-year mean dry biomass yields were 13,
12, and 11 Mg ha ^ yr ^ for one, two, and three harvests yr-^,
respectively. Mean IVOMDs were 40, 54, and 57% while CP contents were 5.3,
7.1, and 9.6%, respectively. Two-year NDF means were 77, 73, and 70%.
Merkeron, N-43, N-51, Mott, and L79-1002 survived the experimental
conditions. Genotype PI 300086 survived during 1986-87; however, major
stand losses occurred over the 1987-88 winter following the second
growing season in plots harvested multiple times. An almost complete
loss of stand occurred in Selection No. 3 plots.
Mean pH values ranged from 3.8 to 4.0 for the tall elephantgrass
silages made from plants harvested at the different frequencies. The
highest pH values were obtained from silages made from immature Mott
plants harvested three times yr ^ (2-year mean was 4.3). Water soluble
carbohydrate contents of fresh elephantgrass forages (range: 2.6 to
8.4%, dry basis) tended to increase with more frequent harvesting.
Buffering capacities of fresh PI 300086 and L79-1002 biomass were low and
also increased with more frequent harvesting. Lactic acid was the major
end-product of fermentation in most silages with the exception of those
made from immature Mott and L79-1002 plants where lactic and acetic acids
were both major components. Butyric acid levels were negligible in all
silages. Dry matter recoveries for all silages ranged from 84 to 98%.
Silage IVOMDs were mainly dependent on the IVOMDs of the standing forages
at the time of harvest.
Xll

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Elephantgrass or napiergrass (Pennisetum purpureum Schum.) is a
perennial erect bunchgrass that was first cultivated in South Africa
around 1910 (Van Zyl, 1970). Since then elephantgrass research has
been conducted throughout the tropics and warmer subtropics. The
purpose of most of the past research was to evaluate this grass as a
forage for ruminants.
In recent times new objectives have surfaced which focus on
elephantgrass as a renewable biomass energy source. The Arab-OPEC oil
embargo of 1973-74, which caused widespread fuel shortages in the USA,
was the initial motivating force behind the creation of biomass energy
research programs in many parts of this country.
In Florida, energy programs were implemented in the early 1980s
to evaluate different plant species for biomass production. Of over
150 field tested species, elephantgrass was chosen by agronomists at
the University of Florida as one of three plant species for intensive
evaluation (Smith, 1984). Elephantgrass was selected because of its
ability to produce large amounts of plant biomass per unit land area.
Record dry matter yields have been reported at two locations in the
tropics that exceed 80 Mg ha-'*' yr-^ (Watkins and Severen, 1951;
Vicente-Chandler et al., 1959). Other desirable attributes include a
positive yield response to very high rates of nitrogen fertilization,
the perennial nature of the plant, and the tolerance to severe drought
1

2
stress with subsequent compensatory growth when favorable growing
conditions prevail.
Other developments in recent years have renewed interest in
elephantgrass. The development of "dwarf" strains of elephantgrass by
researchers at Tifton, Georgia, has increased its potential in
ruminant animal production. Research by Boddorff and Ocumpaugh (1986)
has shown dwarf genotypes to be superior in overall plant quality to
that of "tall" Pennisetum hybrids. Furthermore, over several years
forage agronomists at Gainesville have consistently reported average
daily liveweight gains of one kg from steers grazing 'Mott' dwarf
elephantgrass for prolonged summer-fall periods ranging from 126 to
177 days (Mott and Ocumpaugh, 1984; Sollenberger et al., 1988). Also,
with improvements in mechanical forage harvesters, the highly
productive tall genotypes can be more effectively harvested as
greenchop or silage.
The following research was co-funded by the Gas Research
Institute, Chicago, Illinois, and the Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, Gainesville, Florida. It consisted of an
elephantgrass study that was conducted over two growing seasons on an
infertile, dry location near Gainesville, Florida, where conditions
may be classified as the colder subtropics. The primary objectives
were to measure the effects of harvest frequency and genotype on
biomass yield, forage quality, and stand persistence and to determine
if elephantgrass could be successfully stored by ensiling.

CHAPTER 2
BIOMASS YIELD AND QUALITY CHARACTERISTICS OF ELEPHANTGRASS
AS AFFECTED BY HARVEST FREQUENCY AND GENOTYPE
Introduction
Elephantgrass is well known throughout much of the wet tropics for
its prolific growth habit and usage as a forage for livestock.
Presently, this C-4 grass is being intensively evaluated by agronomists
in Florida as a renewable biomass source for methane production (Prine
et al., 1988). Before elephantgrass can become a viable biomass
source, however, more must be known about the performance of existing
genotypes under different cultural conditions, particularly in the
colder subtropical climate of North Central Florida.
Two factors that strongly affect elephantgrass performance are
harvest frequency and genotype. Mislevy et al. (1986) reported dry
biomass yields of 52.2 and 17.0 Mg ha-^ yr-^ for PI 300086
elephantgrass when harvested one and two times per season,
respectively, at Ona, Florida. At Gainesville, Florida, Calhoun and
Prine (1985) showed a curvilinear increase in annual biomass yield of
PI 300086 elephantgrass with increased time between harvests (6, 8,
12, and 24 weeks). They also noted that plants growing under the 24-
week harvest interval regime were more winter-hardy then those growing
under the other three shorter intervals. Also working with
PI 300086 elephantgrass at Gainesville, Shiralipour and Smith (1985)
3

4
reported declining methane yield per volatile solid (VS), with
advancing plant maturity. For plant ages 75, 150, and 315 days, they
obtained methane yields of 0.38, 0.30, and 0.25 standard m kg VS.
In Puerto Rico, Vicente-Chandler et al. (1959) obtained dramatic
increases in annual biomass yields and declining crude protein
contents by increasing the length of harvest interval (40-, 60-, and
90-day intervals). Arroyo-Aguilú and Oporta-Tellez (1980) observed
diminishing crude protein and increasing neutral detergent fiber
levels in Merker elephantgrass with advancing plant maturity. In
Malaysia, Wong and Sharudin (1986) reported in vitro dry matter
digestibility values of 56, 50, and 44% for elephantgrass forage
harvested at 4-, 8-, and 12-week intervals. Velez-Santiago and
Arroyo-Aguilu (1981) working with seven elephantgrass genotypes
reported declining crude protein levels and increasing biomass yields
with decreasing harvest frequency. Although all genotypes responded
similarly to the effect of harvest frequency, they observed
differences among genotypes in biomass yield, crude protein, and
neutral detergent fiber concentrations. At Gainesville, Prine and
Woodard (1986) evaluated several tall elephantgrass genotypes under
full-season growth. Differences in biomass yield, lodging rate, and
winter survival were observed among genotypes. The genotype PI 300086
often produced the highest biomass yield and was lodge resistant. It
tended, however, to winterkill. Other high-yielding genotypes
including Merkeron, N-51, N-43, and N-13 were much more cold tolerant.
The purpose of the following study was to measure the effects of
harvest frequency and genotype on biomass yield, forage quality, and

5
winter survival in the colder subtropical area of Gainesville,
Florida.
Materials and Methods
An elephantgrass biomass study was conducted over two growing
seasons (1986-87) at the Green Acres University of Florida Research
Farm approximately 20 km northwest of Gainesville, Florida. The soil
at the site was a well-drained Arredondo fine sand (loamy, siliceous,
hyperthermic, Grossarenic Paleudults). Soil organic matter contents
ranged from 1.0 to 1.5%.
Weekly temperature, precipitation, and solar radiation data for
Gainesville are shown in Fig. 1 for 1986 and Fig. 2 for 1987. The
estimated dates of first and last freeze occurrence (50% probability)
for the area are 28 November and 2 March, respectively (Bradley,
1983).
A factorial experiment with a split-plot design was planted in
December 1985, using mature stem cuttings that were horizontally planted
in a furrow. Main plots consisted of harvesting elephantgrass one, two,
and three times per season while subplots were used to compare different
genotypes including four "tall" elephantgrasses (PI 300086, Merkeron, N-
51, and N-43). Also included was a tall-growing energycane (L79-1002)
which is a cross between a commercial sugarcane variety (CP 52-68) and a
wild Saccharum species (Tianan 96) from Argentina that was made in
Louisiana (Giamalva et al., 1984). The four tall elephantgrasses were
previously collected in 1980. They were among 40 genotypes that were
selected as entries in an elephantgrass observation nursery which was

6
*C AVERAGE WEEKLY TEMPERATURE
WEEKLY TOTAL PRECIPITATION
ANNUAL TOTAL 1329
MJ/WEEK
AVERAGE WEEKLY SOLAR RADIATION
ANNUAL TOTAL 6310
Fig. 1. Climatological data at Gainesville, Florida, for 1986.

7
*C AVERAGE WEEKLY TEMPERATURE
WEEKLY TOTAL PRECIPITATION
ANNUAL TOTAL 1159
Jan Fab Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sap Oct Nov Oao
Fig
2. Climatological data at Gainesville, Florida, for 1987

8
planted in Gainesville that year. The original planting materials of
PI 300086 elephantgrass were collected at the USDA SCS Plant Materials
Center at Brooksville, Florida. Merkeron, N-51, and N-43 were
collected from the Georgia Coastal Plain Station at Tifton. The
genotype N-51 had been growing on the station as an escape for over 35
years (Prine et al., 1988). Merkeron is a tall hybrid that resulted
from a dwarf x tall elephantgrass cross made by G. W. Burton in 1941
(Hanna, 1986). In the present study the four tall elephantgrasses and
the energycane were grown together at one location.
A dwarf elephantgrass ('Mott') and a semi-dwarf Pennisetum hybrid
[Selection No. 3 (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br. x Pennisetum
purpureum Schum.)] were planted about 60 m away at another location
under the same split-plot design. Mott (formerly N-75) was named in
honor of the late Dr. Gerald 0. Mott, Professor of Agronomy at the
University of Florida, who along with Dr. W. R. Ocumpaugh and their
students conducted the initial research that showed this dwarf strain
to possess unusually high forage quality (Sollenberger et al., 1988).
Mott was selected by W. W. Hanna in 1977 from among a selfed progeny
of Merkeron elephantgrass (Hanna, 1986). Selection No. 3 is a sterile
interspecific hybrid from a cross between Mott elephantgrass as the
male parent and 23DA dwarf pearlmillet as the female parent (Schank
and Dunavin, 1988).
All treatment combinations at both locations were completely
randomized in four blocks. A plot consisted of five rows. Plot row
length was 8 m while between-row width was 0.9 m. To avoid

9
competition between harvest frequencies and to facilitate mechanical
harvesting, there were 1.8 and 2.7 m alleys separating main plots.
In the early spring of 1986, clump pieces were transplanted into
the plots where plants failed to emerge. The plots were then
irrigated three times during April and May to ensure an almost
complete stand. This was the only irrigation the plots received
during the entire study.
All plots received 336 kg N ha-^ yr-^ in a 4-1-2 ratio with P2O5
and 1^0. Plots harvested one time yr ^ received the total annual rate
of fertilizer in a single spring application. The annual rate was
split into two equal spring and summer applications for plots
harvested two times whereas plots harvested three times received three
equal spring, summer, and early fall applications.
During both years the harvest period for main plots cut one time
per season was the third week of November. Plots cut two times were
harvested in the first week of August and the third week of November.
Plots cut three times were harvested in the first weeks of July and
September and the fourth week of November.
A 6-m portion of the center row was harvested at a 10- to 15-cm
cutting height from each plot to determine dry biomass yield. The
tall grasses were mechanically harvested with a John Deere model 3940
forage harvester (Deere and Co., Moline, IL). Short grasses could not
be effectively harvested with the forage harvester. They were cut
down with a Stihl model FS 96 brushcutter (Stihl Inc., Virginia Beach,
VA) and then chopped using the forage harvester. Subsamples weighing
approximately 1.5 kg were collected from the fresh chopped biomass and

10
air-dried at 60°C. After drying, the subsamples were taken
individually from the dryer and weighed immediately to compute dry
matter percentages. A "grab" sample from each subsample was then
ground in a Wiley mill (1-mm mesh screen) prior to analysis at the
University of Florida Forage Evaluation Support Laboratory at
Gainesville, Florida. Also, collected from the 6-m portion of row
were fresh 2 to 3 kg subsamples of chopped PI 300086 elephantgrass
from two blocks for each harvest (six harvests yr-^). These samples
were frozen and sent to the Bioprocess Engineering Research Laboratory
at Gainesville to determine methane potential. Due to limited
resources at the laboratory, however, one block sample was analyzed in
triplicate. Methane potential was estimated by bioassay procedures
outlined by Owen et al. (1979). Methane yields were calculated after
a 20-day fermentation period.
Nitrogen analysis involved an aluminum block digestion of the
biomass material (Gallaher et al., 1975) followed by an automated
colorimetric determination of total N by a Technicon Auto Analyzer
(Technicon Instruments Corp., Tarrytown, NY). Crude protein content
(dry basis) was computed by multiplying the percent total N by 6.25.
The modified two-stage technique by Moore and Mott (1974) was used to
determine in vitro organic matter digestibility. Neutral detergent
fiber (ash-free) concentrations were determined using the procedure by
Van Soest and Wine (1967) with modifications suggested by Golding et
al. (1985).
For each of the response variables reported on in this Chapter,
with the exception of stand survival, the observations from the single

11
harvests within a multiple harvest treatment for each genotype were
averaged or summed (depending on the parameter) into a single
observation before statistical analyses were conducted. The means for
most of the response variables from the single harvests are shown in
tables contained in the Appendix.
Analysis of variance was performed by using the general linear
model procedure of the Statistical Analysis System (SAS Institute
Inc., 1982). When the F-test for treatment effects showed
significance at the 5% level, this analysis was followed by Duncan’s
multiple range test (DMRT) to compare genotypes. Orthogonal
polynomial procedures were used to determine the nature of the
response over harvest frequencies. Statistical analyses were computed
separately for the tall and short genotypes. The DMRT notations for
tall genotypes are the usual a, b, and c letters, while the notations
for the two short genotypes are letters x and y. Analysis of variance
was not performed on values estimating methane potential because of
limited observations.
Results and Discussion
Oven Dry Biomass Yields
Differences in dry biomass yield did not occur among the four
"tall" elephantgrasses (PI 300086, Merkeron, N-43, and N-51) in either
year (Tables 1 and 2). In 1986, yields for the tall-growing L79-1002
energycane were inferior to the tall elephantgrasses, but the
following season differences did not occur. For all tall genotypes in
both years, the biomass yields decreased as the frequency of harvest

12
Table 1. Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes grown
under one, two, and three harvests per year at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1986.
Oven dry biomass yield
Harvests in 1986 ~
Genotype Growth type 123 Average3
Mg ha-l
PI 300086
tall
30.3
29.7
21.8
27.3a
Merkeron
tall
31.9
27.7
21.4
27.0a
N-43
tall
28.1
27.3
19.2
24.9a
N-51
tall
26.9
27.6
18.0
24.1a
L79-1002^
tall
19.6
18.7
14.3
17.5b
Overall
average^
27.4 L**Q**
26.2
18.9
Selection
No. 3 $ semi-dwarf
19.2
17.7
11.9
16.3x
Mott
dwarf
15.2
14.8
11.8
13.9y
Overall
If
average
17.2 L**
16.2
11.8
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
ÍPearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
C
3Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

13
Table 2. Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes grown
under one, two and three harvests per year at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1987.
Genotype
Growth type
Oven dry biomass yield
1
Harvests in 1987
2 3
Average^
PI 300086
tall
23.6
20.3
12.9
18.9a
Merkeron
tall
26.3
20.8
16.2
21.1a
N-43
tall
24.3
20.6
14.9
19.9a
N-51
tall
21.2
18.1
16.1
18.5a
L79-1002^
tall
21.7
17.9
13.7
17.8a
Overall
average^
23.4
L** 19.5
14.8
Selection
f
No. S'*- semi-dwarf
3.2
4.1
6.2
4.5y
Mott
dwarf
10.5
9.2
9.8
9.8x
Overall
average
6.9
6.6
8.0
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

14
increased. The 2-year average yields for the four tall
elephantgrasses with one, two, and three harvests yr ^ were 27, 24,
and 18 Mg ha~^ yr-'*’, respectively.
In 1986, the dry biomass yields for the "short" grasses
(Selection No. 3 and 'Mott') decreased with more frequent harvests;
however, trends were not found the following season. Selection No. 3
was superior in yield to Mott in 1986, but Mott yields were more than
double those obtained from Selection No. 3 in 1987. That year,
Selection No. 3 plants in all plots began to rapidly deteriorate, thus
resulting in reduced biomass yield. Two-year average yields for Mott
elephantgrass were 13, 12, and 11 Mg ha ^ yr ^ for one, two, and three
harvests yr ^.
Reduction of biomass yield with increased frequency of harvest is
consistent with several reports in the literature (Watkins and
Severen, 1951; Vicente-Chandler et al., 1959; Velez-Santiago and
Arroyo-Aguilú, 1981; Calhoun and Prine, 1985). In the present study,
the yield advantage of full-season growth was probably due to the
extended uninterrupted linear growth phase. At Gainesville, Calhoun
(1985) reported the linear growth phase of dry matter accumulation for
PI 300086 elephantgrass to be about 170 days with a crop growth rate
-2 -1
of 23 g m d . When this growth phase is interrupted as with
harvesting multiple times per season, the reduction in annual biomass
yield can be attributed in part to the uncollected solar energy during
the period between a harvest (canopy removal) and complete vegetative
ground cover of the next ratoon growth phase. Consequently, the more

15
interruptions made during the season, the lower the annual biomass
yield.
The biomass reduction from one to two harvests yr ^ obtained from
the tall elephantgrass group in the present study (11%) was much
smaller than those Mislevy et al. (1986) reported at Ona, Florida (67
and 69%). Contrastingly, in Puerto Rice—which has a full 12-month
growing season—Samuels et al. (1983) reported higher annual dry
biomass yields from elephantgrass harvested two times yr-^ as compared
to harvesting one time. However, as the harvest frequency increased
to three and six cuts per season, the yields declined. For one, two,
three, and six harvests yr \ they reported annual dry biomass yields
of 58, 74, 56, and 27 Mg ha respectively.
The biomass yields from the present study are somewhat lower than
those from the reports cited earlier. However, given the droughty,
infertile soils, the nonirrigated conditions, and the colder
subtropical climate at the experimental site, the biomass yields from
this study should be considered substantial.
Crude Protein, In Vitro Organic Matter Digestibility, and Neutral
Detergent Fiber
Differences among tall grass genotypes in crude protein (CP)
content did not occur in either year (Tables 3 and 4). The averages
(over harvest frequency) for the tall grasses ranged from 5.7 to 6.2%,
dry basis. The CP levels increased linearly with increasing frequency
of harvest. The 2-year average CP contents for the four tall
elephantgrasses were 4.0, 5.8, and 7.9% for one, two, and three
harvests per season, respectively.

16
Table 3. Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes grown under
one, two, and three harvests per year at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1986.
Genotype
F-test^
Crude
protein
1
Harvests in
2
1986
3
Average^
7
/o ,
PI 300086
3.5
5.6
7.9
5.7a
Merkeron
3.9
5.3
8.1
5.8a
N-43
3.8
6.9
7.9
6.2a
N-51
3.7
5.3
8.2
5.7a
L79-1002^
3.9
5.5
7.8
5.7a
Overall
average L**
3.8
5.7
8.0
Selection
No. 3^ L**
4.3x§
7.5x
9.7x
7.1
Mott
L**
4.7x
6.9x
8.8y
6.8
Overall
average
4.5
7.2
9.2
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
â– ^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
^Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

17
Table 4. Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes grown under
one, two, and three harvests per year at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1987.
Genotype
F-test^
Crude protein
1
Harvests in
2
1987
3
Average^
PI 300086
4.0
6.1
7.5
5.9a
Merkeron
4.5
5.9
7.5
6.0a
N-43
4.3
5.5
8.4
6.1a
N-51
4.5
5.6
7.7
6.0a
L79-1002t
4.5
5.7
7.3
5.8a
Overall average
L**
4.4
5.8
7.7
Selection No. 3Í
-
-
-
Mott
L**
5.8
7.3
10.4
7.8
4.
'Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
ÍPearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
yMeans in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

18
For the short grasses, CP levels also increased with more
frequent harvests. The 2-year average CP contents for Mott
elephantgrass were 5.3, 7.1, and 9.6% for one, two, and three harvests
yr-'*', respectively. Laboratory analyses were discontinued for
Selection No. 3 in 1987 due to herbage deterioration and subsequent
plant death.
In the overall analysis of vitro organic matter
digestibilities (IVOMD), an interaction occurred between genotype and
harvest frequency in both years for the tall grass group (Tables 5 and
6). When L79-1002 energycane was deleted from the data set, the
interaction was not significant. Merkeron, N-43, and N-51
elephantgrasses did not differ in IVOMD in either season. The
genotype PI 300086 was significantly lower the first season but did
not differ from the other tall elephantgrasses the second season. The
IVOMDs for the elephantgrasses and energycane increased with the more
frequent harvests. The 2-year average IVOMDs for the four
elephantgrass genotypes were 40, 49, and 55% for the one, two, and
three harvests yr \ respectively.
In 1986, differences in IVOMD did not occur between Selection No. 3
and Mott genotypes. Also, IVOMD levels increased with more frequent
harvests. The 2-year average IVOMDs for Mott elephantgrass were 40,
54, and 57% for one, two, and three harvests yr *", respectively.
Similar ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) values were
obtained from the tall elephantgrasses, though there was a tendency
for PI 300086 to be slightly higher than the others (Tables 7 and 8).
The NDF levels decreased with more frequent harvests; however, the

19
Table 5. In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1986.
Genotype
F-test^
IVOMD
Harvests in 1986
1 2 3
Average^
<7
/u
PI 300086
37
47
55
46b
Merkeron
41
49
56
48a
N-43
39
52
56
49a
N-51
40
49
56
48a
Overall
average
L** Q**
39
49
56
L79-1002^
L** Q*
40
47
50
46
Selection
No. 3*
L** Q**
44x§
56x
56x
52
Mott
L** Q**
43x
55x
58x
52
Overall
average
44
55
57
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
o
^Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

20
Table 6. In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1987.
Genotype
F-test^
IVOMD
Harvests in 1987
1 2 3
Average^
7 -
PI 300086
40
47
54
47a
Merkeron
42
50
55
49a
N-43
40
49
55
48a
N-51
42
47
55
48a
Overall
average
L**
41
48
55
L79-1002t
L**
46
47
50
48
Selection
No. 3*
-
-
-
Mott
L** Q**
36
53
56
48
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
iPearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
11
Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; PC0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (#).

21
Table 7. Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1986.
Genotype
F-test^
NDF
Harvests in 1986
1 2 3
Average^
/o, ary nuoio
PI 300086
83
78
76
79a
Merkeron
81
76
73
77bc
N-43
81
75
74
77c
N-51
82
_77
74
77b
Overall
average L** Q**
82
77
74
L79-1002t
77
78
77
77
Selection
No. 3*
76
72
68
72y
Mott
76
73
70
73x
Overall
average L**
76
73
69
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
O
yMeans in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

22
Table 8. Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes grown under one, two, and three
harvests per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL, during 1987.
NDF
Harvests in 1987
Genotype F-test1' 12 3 Average
%, dry basis
PI 300086
L**
79aS
78a
76b
78
Merkeron
L** Q*
79a
75b
75 c
76
N-43
L**
80a
76b
74c
77
N-51
L**
80a
77a
74c
77
L79-1002Í
L**
72b
76ab
78a
75
Overall average
78
76
75
Selection No. 3Í
-
-
-
Mott
L**
78
72
70
73
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
ípearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (*#) or PC0.05 (*).

23
magnitude of the decline was small. The 2-year average NDF
concentrations for the four tall elephantgrasses were 81, 76, and 74%
(dry basis) for one, two, and three harvests yr-^, respectively. For
the energycane (L79-1002), NDF levels were unchanged over harvest
treatments in 1986 while the levels surprisingly increased linearly
with more frequent harvests the following season.
Selection No. 3 and Mott genotypes differed slightly in NDF
during 1986. The NDF levels decreased with increasing cutting
frequency. The 2-year average NDF concentrations for Mott were 77,
73, and 70% for one, two, and three harvests yr-^, respectively.
In general, the quality of elephantgrass forage in terms of CP,
IVOMD, and NDF, becomes more favorable as the number of harvests per
season increases. With more frequent harvesting of both tall and
short elephantgrasses, CP and IVOMD levels increase while NDF
concentrations decline. Among the four tall elephantgrasses,
PI 300086 had a tendency to be slightly lower in IVOMD and higher in
NDF than the others.
Although direct statistical comparisons between tall and short
elephantgrasses cannot be made in this study due to different, but
similar, plot locations, some interesting trends are worth noting.
Crude protein averages recorded for Mott were generally one to two
percentage points higher than the average values recorded for the tall
types. Averages for IVOMD were one to two percentage points higher
under three harvests per season. With two harvests per season, Mott
IVOMD averages were approximately five percentage points higher,
probably the result of a major increase in the stem portion of the

24
total above-ground parts of tall elephantgrass plants. Also, Mott NDF
levels tended to be from three to five percentage points lower.
The more favorable quality measurements obtained from Mott can be
attributed to the greater fraction of leaves in the total above-ground
portions of dwarf plants and higher stem quality. In Florida,
Boddorff and Ocumpaugh (1986) obtained stem IVOMD values for dwarf
elephantgrass genotypes ranging from 72% in October to 60% in January
while tall hybrid Pennisetum genotypes ranged from 66 to 45% over the
same period. Stem crude protein contents for the dwarf types ranged
from 11% in October to 6% in January (dry basis) compared with 7 to 4%
for the tall hybrids. The leaf blade made up 80% of the total sample
in October for the dwarf genotypes. This was nearly double the value
recorded for the tall hybrids.
Winter Survival
The percent stand survival was recorded after spring growth
initiation in 1988 (Table 9). The elephantgrass PI 300086 survived
the conditions during 1986-87; however, major stand losses occurred
over the 1987-88 winter following the second growing season in plots
harvested multiple times per year. Calhoun and Prine (1985) also
reported major losses in PI 300086 stands with multiple harvest
frequencies at a site near Gainesville.
Merkeron, N-43, N-51, and Mott elephantgrasses and L79-1002
energycane tolerated the harvest frequencies included in the present
study and survived the two winters at Gainesville. Selection No. 3
plots were almost completely void of live plants in the spring of

25
Table 9. Stand survival of elephantgrass genotypes following the
1986-87 growing seasons with plots harvested one, two, and
three times per year at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL.
Stand survivalt
Harvests per year
Genotype
F-testff
1
2
3
7
/u 1
PI 300086
L** Q**
59b^
8b
8b
Merkeron
84a
75a
81a
N-43
Q**
81a
72a
81a
N-51
80a
69a
81a
L79-1002^
67b
69a
81a
Selection No.
3§
Oy
iy
Oy
Mott
79x
77x
71x
fPercentage of
stubble area
initiating
spring growth on 6 Apr.
1988.
ÍEnergycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
^Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments; P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

26
1988. Selection No. 3 plants in all plots began to deteriorate
rapidly during the 1987 season. That year a heavy infestation of the
two-lined spittlebug (Prosapia bicincta Say) occurred on Mott and
Selection No. 3. The primary cause of accelerated plant death of
Selection No. 3 was attributed to the spittlebugs.
Methane Production
Results of the bioassays performed on fresh PI 300086
elephantgrass suggest that methane yield kg--'- volatile solid (VS)
after a 20-day fermentation period increases with more frequent
harvesting (Table 10). This trend is consistent with the findings of
Calhoun and Prine (1985) and Shiralipour and Smith (1985). However,
the levels of methane yield kg * VS were overall somewhat lower than
those obtained by the reports cited above. Estimated methane
production ha-'*' was substantially lower overall compared to values
reported by the former study. This was the result of lower dry
biomass production and methane yield kg-*' VS.
The data suggest that harvesting two times per season results
in slightly higher methane production ha-*; however, large
differences between harvest frequencies were not apparent. It is
possible that the production of biodegradable plant materials per
unit land area (i.e., biodegradable within a reasonable period of
time) is similar for the three harvest frequency regimes. If so,
the biodegradable materials would be more diluted in full-season
growth and concentrated in plants harvested three times per season.
It is also possible that the quantity-quality compromising

27
Table 10. Average predicted methane production of PI 300086
elephantgrass harvested one, two, and three times per
season at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL,
during the 1986-87 growing seasons.
Harvests
per season
Annual dry
biomass yield
Volatile
solids
Average
methane yieldt
Annual methane
production
Mg ha-1
%
std m^ kg ^ VS
std m^xlO^ ha ^
1
27.0
96.4
00
r-H
o
4.8
2
25.0
95.7
0.217
5.2
3
17.3
94.5
0.277
4.5
’Determined from one sample per harvest over two seasons.
•f'Methane yield measured at 15.5°C and one atmosphere.

28
harvest frequency between these two extremes—i.e., harvesting two
times per season—will result in slightly higher methane production.
In contrast, Calhoun and Prine (1985) showed a clear-cut
advantage with full-season growth in annual methane production ha-'*'
over multiple harvests. In their study, the high values for predicted
methane production ha ^ were mainly due to the large biomass yields of
single annual harvests and the major declines in yield of multiple
cuts. Although full-season growth produced the highest biomass yields
in the present study, major declines in production under two and three
harvests per season did not occur.
Animal Performance
Much research has been conducted with elephantgrass throughout
the tropics and subtropics since the early 1900s. The objectives of
most studies of the past have centered on ruminant nutrition because
of the widespread utilization of this forage as a green chop and
silage feed.
Although direct animal performance data were not collected, it is
reasonable to assume that the forages harvested in the present study
can be used in cattle operations, either totally or in combination
with energy systems, depending on the current market circumstances.
When fed ad libitum as a soilage crop, elephantgrass forages from the
tall genotypes and three harvests per season (2-year average CP and
IVOMD values were 7.9% and 55%, respectively) should result in a
positive energy balance for most classes of cattle (National Research
Council, 1984). Forages grown under two harvests per season (2-year

29
average CP and IVOMD values were 5.8% and 49%, respectively) should
result in a nutritional level that is near maintenance for some
classes, mature non-lactating cows for example, provided voluntary
intakes are adequate. [The author is assuming that IVOMD is a
reasonable estimate of total digestible nutrient (TDN) content.] In
Venezuela, Arias (1979) measured daily animal intakes with
elephantgrass forage over a 200-day period beginning with 8-month-old
calves. Daily intakes ranged from 2.1 to 3.1 kg DM/100 kg liveweight
with forages gathered at the flowering stage to early vegetative
increase. Daily liveweight gains ranged from -0.1 to 0.8 kg per head.
In Brazil, Gonqalez et al. (1979) working with two elephantgrass
cultivars reported daily intakes of 1.9 and 2.3 kg DM/100 kg
liveweight in cattle. The forage _in_ vitro dry matter digestibilities
for the corresponding intake values were 46 and 47%, respectively.
Daily animal performance under ad_ libitum conditions should be
somewhat higher for Mott dwarf elephantgrass compared to the tall
types. This prediction is based on the improved quality attributes
that were observed in the present study which included higher recorded
values for crude protein and IVOMD and lower values for NDF. Burton
et al. (1969) reported a 20% greater average daily gain for steers
grazing dwarf pearlmillet as compared to those grazing tall types.
Dwarf elephantgrasses may turn out to be inferior to tall types on an
animal product ha ^ basis and under soilage feeding conditions because
the better quality may not make up for its much lower biomass yield.

30
Conclusions
Elephantgrass produces substantial biomass yields on dry,
infertile sites and under the colder subtropical conditions of North
Central Florida. As the number of harvests per season increases,
biomass yields decline (the yield response of Mott dwarf elephantgrass
may be an exception with the harvest frequencies included in the
present study) while forage crude protein and IVOMD levels and methane
yields kg-^ VS increase. Neutral detergent fiber levels gradually
decrease; however, major reductions do not occur.
Variation in survival tolerance to increased harvest frequency
and colder subtropical winters exists among genotypes. The
elephantgrass genotypes Merkeron, N-43, N-51, and Mott, and the
L79-1002 energycane survived the experimental conditions and could be
recommended for planting in North Central Florida. The genotype
PI 300086 elephantgrass was susceptible to winterkill, particularly
when harvested multiple times per season. An almost complete loss of
stand occurred in the semi-dwarf Selection No. 3 (Pennisetum hybrid)
plots during the study. Therefore, PI 300086 and Selection No. 3 are
not suitable for the area.
Two harvests per season appeared to be the best compromise
between biomass quantity and quality (methane yield kg~^ VS), thus
resulting in the highest estimate for methane production ha-^. Since
the other harvest treatments resulted in similar predicted production
levels, the final analysis as to the best harvest regime to use in a
methane production system must come from an evaluation of production
costs and net energy gains.

31
Finally, the forages resulting from two and three harvests per
season could be utilized, either solely or in combination with energy
production systems, in several types of cattle operations. These
forages should provide an almost complete supply of nutrients required
for certain beef cattle classes such as mature cows and replacement
heifers. For high-producing animals such as lactating dairy cows and
feedlot beef animals, these forages can provide some of the required
nutrients and the needed roughage for maintaining healthy ruminal
functions, when included as a portion of animal diets.

CHAPTER 3
SILAGE CHARACTERISTICS OF ELEPHANTGRASS AND ENERGYCANE
AS AFFECTED BY HARVEST FREQUENCY AND GENOTYPE
Introduction
Elephantgrass was ensiled and fed to cattle in Florida as early
as 1933 by Neal et al. (1935). Using the ensiling process to preserve
thick-stemmed, erect grasses such as elephantgrass is generally the
preferred method over other forms of storage. Making hay with
elephantgrass is not easily accomplished because of the problems
associated with the solar drying of thick stems and the large mass of
plant material produced per unit land area. The accumulation of
forage in the field (stockpiling) is generally an ineffective method
of storage because of the rapid decline in forage quality with
advancing plant age (Gomide et al., 1969).
Reports in the literature on the ensiling of elephantgrass are
not all positive. Davies ensiled chopped elephantgrass in miniature
cement tower silos which held approximately 135 kg of fresh material.
The elephantgrass was 2.5 m tall when harvested and contained 24% dry
matter (DM). Silos were sampled 50 days after packing. He reported
that a 45% loss in DM had occurred during storage which led him to
state that "there appears to be some peculiarity with this grass
[elephantgrass] in that it does not make good silage without the
addition of molasses" (1963, pp. 318-319). Conversely, Brown and
Chavalimu (1985) successfully ensiled 5-week-old elephantgrass
32

33
regrowth by hand-packing chopped plant material into two nested
polyethylene bags. Silage sampling took place after 2.5 months of
storage. A 96% DM recovery was reported.
The objectives of the following silage study, which is a
continuation of the experiment previously described in Chapter 2, were
to determine if elephantgrass and energycane gathered under different
harvest frequency regimes could be adequately preserved as silage and
to identify potential problems that could exist in the conversion of
the silage into animal or energy products.
Materials and Methods
Much of the fresh chopped plant materials generated during 1986-87
from the harvest frequency x genotype experiment described in Chaper 2
was ensiled using 20-liter plastic paint pails as portable silos.
Genotypes ensiled included PI 300086, Merkeron, and Mott elephantgrasses
and L79-1002 energycane. The field plots were harvested one, two, and
three times per season. During each harvest, biomass from three blocks
was ensiled for each treatment combination. Tall genotypes were
mechanically harvested with a John Deere model 3940 forage harvester,
which chopped the majority of the plant materials into 2- to 3-cm length
pieces. Mott dwarf elephantgrass could not be effectively harvested
with the forage harvester. It was cut down with a Stihl model FS 96
brushcutter and then chopped using the forage harvester. Each silo
was lined with two, 4-mil thick Ironclad trash compactor plastic
bags (North American Plastics Corp., Aurora, IL), then hand-packed
with 8 to 11 kg of fresh chopped biomass. After filling, the

34
liner bags were separately tied off with jute string. Each silo was
then weighed.
During field harvesting, subsamples were collected, then air-
dried at 60°C to compute DM percentage. These samples were then used
to determine the forage quality parameters reported earlier in Chapter
2. In addition, fresh subsamples were collected in reclosable freezer
bags (2.7-mil thick) and frozen. These samples were used to determine
water soluble carbohydrate content and buffering capacity of original
biomass prior to ensiling.
Ensiling dates corresponded to the harvest periods reported in
Chapter 2. The silos filled during the 1986 season were sampled 10
months after the ensiling dates. The silos filled during the 1987
season were all sampled during the second week of February 1988. The
silos were weighed again just prior to sampling in order to calculate
DM recovery. The weight of a paint pail plus two trash compactor bags
was substrated from the weight of each packed silo before DM recovery
was computed.
During silo sampling, the spoilage that commonly occurred in the
top 4 to 5 cm of the stored biomass was discarded. The remaining
silage was placed in a 114-liter container and thoroughly mixed. A
sample was taken, placed in a freezer bag, and frozen immediately.
Another sample was collected and oven-dried at 60°C to compute DM
percentage. It was then ground in a Wiley mill (1-mm mesh screen)
prior to analysis at the University of Florida Forage Evaluation
Support Laboratory at Gainesville, Florida, where the modified two-
stage technique by Moore and Mott (1974) was used to determine iji_

35
vitro organic matter digestibility. This procedure was performed on
the original biomass and corresponding silage at the same time, using
the same batch of rumen fluid inoculum.
At a later date, 25 g from each frozen silage sample were placed
in a blender with 225 ml of deionized water. The sample was then
lacerated for 2 minutes and filtered through several layers of
cheesecloth. It was thoroughly pressed to remove as much extract as
possible. This extract was used for silage quality determinations
including pH, acetic, butyric, and lactic acid contents (dry basis),
and ammoniacal N as a percentage of total N.
A Fisher Accumet digital pH meter (Fisher Scientific Corp.,
Pittsburgh, PA) calibrated with pH 4 and 7 buffer solutions, was used
to measure silage pH.
Acetic, butyric, and lactic acid levels were determined using a
Perkin-Elmer Sigma 3B gas chromatograph (Perkin-Elmer, Norwalk, CT).
Chromatograph specifications are as follows: Column packing, GP 10%
SP-1000/1% H^PO^ on 100/120 Chromosorb W AW (Supelco, Inc.,
Beliefonte, PA); Column type, 1.8 m x 2 mm ID glass; Column
temperature, 115-135°C, varied with conditions; Flow rate, 30 ml/min.,
N2; Detector, FID; Sample injection size, 1.0 pi. The gas
chromatograph was calibrated with standards made from Supelco volatile
and non-volatile acid standard mixes. Procedures used to prepare
methyl derivatives of lactic acid from silage extracts were those
outlined by Supelco, Inc. (1985).
Analysis of total N in silage involved an aluminum block
digestion of fresh 5-g samples (Gallaher et al., 1975), followed by a

36
colorimetric determination using a Technicon Auto Analyzer (Technicon
Instruments Corp., Tarrytown, NY). For ammoniacal N determinations,
silage extracts were analyzed by using an adaptation of the ammonia-
salicylate reaction, followed by Technicon colorimetric procedures
(Noel and Hambleton, 1976).
The phenolsulfuric acid colorimetric procedure by Dubois et al.
(1956) and a Spectronic 20 colorimeter-spectrophotometer (Bausch and
Lomb Inc., Rochester, NY) were used to measure water soluble
carbohydrate content (dry basis) of original biomass before ensiling.
Buffering capacity, expressed as the number of milliequivalents
of NaOH required to raise one kg of biomass DM from pH 4 to 6, was
measured on fresh plant samples before ensiling by methods used by
Playne and McDonald (1966).
For each of the response parameters reported on in this chapter,
the observations recorded for the single harvests within a multiple
harvest treatment for each genotype were averaged into a single
observation before statistical analyses were conducted. The means for
most of the response variables from single harvests are shown in
tables contained in the Appendix.
Statistical procedures used to analyze silage data were the same
as those described in Chapter 2.
Results and Discussion
Biomass Characteristics Before Ensiling
Dry matter (DM) contents for 1986-87 are presented in Tables 11
and 12. Declining DM contents with more frequent harvesting was the

37
Table 11. Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane grown
under one, two, and three harvests in 1986 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Dry matter
Harvests in 1986
1
2
3
7
PI 300086
L**
33a§
26a
19b
Merkeron
L**
33a
25a
20ab
L79-1002^
L**
31a
24a
21a
Mott
L**
29
23
21
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

38
Table 12. Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane grown
under one, two, and three harvests in 1987 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Dry matter
Harvests in 1987
1
2
3
°7
PI 300086
L** Q**
37a§
26a
20b
Merkeron
L**
34b
25a
20b
L79-1002*
L** Q*
33b
25a
22a
Mott L** Q** 33
24
25
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).
significant over
harvest

39
general pattern which is in agreement with the results reported by
Vicente-Chandler et al. (1959). Gomide et al. (1969) showed a strong
linear increase in DM content with advancing age of elephantgrass
plants. The harvest frequencies used in the present study provided
plant materials averaging from 19 to 37% DM for ensiling.
The optimum forage DM content for ensiling is generally
considered to be between 28 to 35%. Ensiling forages with DM contents
below 26% are subject to undesirable clostridial fermentation (Harris,
1984). Low DM silages require higher organic acid concentrations and
lower pHs to inhibit the growth and proliferation of Clostridia
bacteria. Clostridial growth is suppressed when the silage DM content
is above 35%. However, excluding oxygen during the packing of high DM
plant materials is more difficult because such materials are of lower
density (Vetter and Von Gian, 1978).
Full-season growth of elephantgrass genotypes contained the lower
levels of water soluble carbohydrates (WSCHO) whereas the more
immature forages from multiple harvest treatments had the higher
levels (Table 13). It should be noted that variations in WSCHO
content existed between individual cuttings within the multiple
harvest regimes. In 1987, the mean WSCHO contents of the tall
elephantgrasses (PI 300086 and Merkeron) for the first, second, and
third cuttings of the three harvests per season treatment were 10.4,
10.6, and 3.0% (dry basis), respectively. With the two harvests
treatment, the levels were 9.9 and 6.0% for the first and second
cuttings, respectively. Similar trends were observed for L79-1002
energycane. Low temperatures just prior to the final harvesting

40
Table 13. Water soluble carbohydrate (WSCHO) content of elephantgrass
and energycane grown under one, two, and three harvests in
1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
WSCHO
Harvests in 1987
Genotype F-test" 1 23
%, dry basis
PI 300086
L** Q*
5.8b§
8.4ab
8.2a
Merkeron
L**
4.4b
7.6b
7.9a
L79-1002t
L** Q**
9.5a
9.6a
7.1b
Mott
L**
2.6
4.6
7.0
+
‘Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

41
period in 1987 caused considerable frost damage, particularly to the
youngest ratoon plants. The low levels of WSCHO were attributed to
cold damage. An interesting inconsistency occurred when the youngest
ratoon plants of PI 300086 and Merkeron elephantgrass (mean WSCHO
content of plants before ensiling was 3.0%, dry basis) from the third
cutting were ensiled. The mean pH value of silages made from these
cold-damaged plants was 3.9—lower than expected—while the mean lactic
acid concentration was 6.8% (dry basis), which was higher than
expected, considering the low WSCHO levels in fresh biomass before
ensiling. Further research is needed before explanations can be given.
The WSCHO content of full-season L79-1002 energycane growth was
substantially higher than those of the elephantgrasses. Although
linear and quadratic effects are significant, it is still unclear how
WSCHO levels in energycane are affected by harvest frequency.
In Brazil, Veiga and Campos (1975) reported an average WSCHO
content of 6.5% (dry basis) for elephantgrass harvested at an advanced
stage of growth. With elephantgrass cut at 55 days of age, Tosi et
al. (1983) reported a mean content of 17.0%.
The buffering capacities of PI 300086 and L79-1002 forages
increased with more frequent harvesting (Table 14). Values measured
for full-season growth were exceptionally low. For both genotypes,
all values were substantially lower than those of other forage crops
reported by Woolford (1984). Woolford reviewed earlier literature and
presented a range of buffering capacities. The highest buffering
capacities shown were from temperate legumes including alfalfa
(Medicago sativa L.) and red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) with

42
Table 14. Buffering capacity of PI 300086 elephantgrass and L79-1002
energycane grown under one, two, and three harvests in 1987
at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Buffering capacity
Harvests in 1987
Genotype
F-test
1
2
3
Mon M^flH l^rr~l Twt
PI 300086
L**
52a§
78a
112b
L79-1002
L** Q**
45a
131a
146a
^Milliequivalents of NaOH required to raise the pH of one kg of
biomass DM from 4.0 to 6.0.
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
«T
'Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

43
values of 480 and 560 meq NaOH kg-^ DM, respectively. Temperate
grasses including orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.), perennial
ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), and Italian ryegrass (X. multiflorum
Lam.) had intermediate values of 300, 350, and 430 meq, respectively.
Forage corn (Zea mays L.) had the lowest buffering capacity of 200
meq. Woolford suggested that the low buffering capacity partly
explains why corn is easier to ensile than other crops. It is
interesting to note the similarities between elephantgrass,
energycane, and forage corn. These tropical C-4 grass plants have
upright growth habits and large coarse stems where soluble
carbohydrates are stored. The possibility exists that other tropical
grasses with the same morphological features may tend to possess low
buffering capacities.
Tropical forages with low buffering capacities would require
smaller concentrations of lactic acid and other organic acids to be
produced during ensiling in order to reach an ideal low pH where
microbial activity would cease and preservation would occur. Thus,
there would be less of a requirement in standing forages for high
levels of available substrates (WSCH0) needed for a successful
ensilage fermentation.
According to Playne and McDonald (1966) the anionic moiety,
mainly organic acids, of plant biomass contributes 68 to 80% to the
buffering capacity while plant proteins make up 10 to 20%.

44
Silage Characteristics
Average pH values recorded during both seasons for the tall
elephantgrass silages (PI 300086 and Merkeron) ranged narrowly from 3.8
to 4.0 (Tables 15 and 16). In 1986, pH values for Merkeron increased
linearly with an increase in harvest frequency. Also, during both
seasons pH values for L79-1002 energycane and Mott dwarf elephantgrass
silages increased linearly with more frequent harvesting. The highest
pH values were consistently obtained from silages made from immature
Mott forages gathered from plots harvested three times per season.
During 1986, mean lactic acid contents of PI 300086 and Merkeron
silages (Table 17) ranged from 3.0 to 3.6% (dry basis). The following
season lactic acid levels for these tall elephantgrasses increased as
harvest frequency increased with means ranging from 1.4 to 5.3% (Table
18). Lactic acid contents for L79-1002 energycane silages decreased
linearly with more frequent harvesting during 1986, whereas no effect
was observed the next year. The lowest values were obtained from
L79-1002 silages made from the most immature plants during 1986. Mean
lactic acid contents were fairly constant for Mott silages.
Overall, acetic acid contents generally increased as the harvest
frequency increased (Tables 19 and 20). Mean acetic acid contents for
PI 300086 and Merkeron silages ranged from 0.25 to 1.58% (dry basis).
The higher means were usually obtained from L79-1002 energycane and Mott
elephantgrass silages that were made with immature plant materials from
multiple harvest treatments.
Silages made with plant materials from full-season growth in 1987
had as low or lower pH values than those made from immature plants

45
Table 15. The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made from
plants grown under one, two, and three harvests during 1986
at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Silage pH
Harvests in 1986
1
2
3
PI 300086
3.8a§
3.9a
4.0b
Merkeron
L**
3.8a
3.9a
4.0b
L79-1002t
L**
3.8a
3.9a
4.3a
Mott
L**
4.0
4.1
4.3
tEnergycane (Saccharum spp.).
O
yMeans in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, PC0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

46
Table 16. The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made from
plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in 1987 at
Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Silage pH
Harvests in 1987
1
2
3
PI 300086
3.8a§
3.8b
3.8a
Merkeron
3.8b
3.8b
3.9a
L79-1002^
L*
3.8a
4.0a
4.0a
Mott
L**
4.0
4.2
4.4
"^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
«T
Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

47
Table 17. Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made from plants harvested one, two, and three times in
1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Lactic acid
Harvests in 1986
1
2
3
PI 300086
3.3a§
3.0a
3.6a
Merkeron
3.3a
3.4a
3.6a
L79-1002^
L**
3.2a
2.8a
0.7b
Mott
3.7
3.3
2.4
4*
'Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

48
Table 18. Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made from plants harvested one, two, and three times in
1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Lactic acid
Harvests in 1987
1
2
3
/o j ary uabio
PI 300086
L** Q*
1.4a§
2.6b
5.3a
Merkeron
L*
2.2a
4.1a
4.5ab
L79-1002^
1.7a
2.2b
3.0b
Mott
2.3
3.2
2.0
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, PC0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

49
Table 19. Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made from plants harvested one, two, and three times in
1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Acetic acid
Harvests in 1986
1
2
3
PI 300086
0.40a§
0.33a
1.49b
Merkeron
L*
0.40a
0.75a
1.58b
L79-1002t
L** Q*
0.43a
0.65a
2.55a
Mott
0.72
1.45
2.19
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
S
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

50
Table 20. Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made from plants harvested one, two, and three times in
1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Acetic acid
Harvests in 1987
Genotype
F-test
1
2
3
PI 300086
0.25b§
0.73a
0.69b
Merkeron
L**
0.29b
0.77a
1.32ab
L79-1002t
L*
0.46a
1.65a
1.71a
Mott L** Q** 0.28
2.18
2.21
^"Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
fT
'Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).
significant over
harvest

51
which were gathered from plots harvested multiple times per season.
(This also occurred in 1986.) At first, these data appear to be
inconsistent since the original fresh biomass from mature full-season
plants that year contained the lowest WSCHO concentrations, with
L79-1002 energycane being an exception (Table 13). In addition,
corresponding silages contained lower concentrations of lactic and
acetic acids, compared to those silages made from immature plants.
These results can be explained by using the buffering capacities of
fresh materials that were recorded prior to ensiling in 1987 (Table
14). The fresh forages from full-season plants contained
exceptionally low buffering capacities (i.e., low resistance to
changes in pH). Therefore, lower concentrations of fermentative acids
(lactic and acetic) were needed to reduce the biomass pH to low levels
where bacterial activity stops. Since smaller amounts of these
organic acids were required, lower concentrations of convertible
substrates (WSCHO) in the original forages of full-season growth were
needed to reach that end-point.
Butyric acid concentration and ammoniacal N content, expressed as
a percentage of total biomass N, in silage indicate the extent of
undesirable secondary fermentations by Clostridia bacteria.
Saccharolytic and proteolytic clostridial fermentations can result in
greater losses of dry matter as compared to a lactic acid
fermentation. In addition, end-products formed by clostridial
fermentations can negatively affect voluntary intake in ruminant
animals (Wilkinson et al., 1976).

52
Mean butyric acid levels (not shown) in PI 300086, Merkeron, and
L79-1002 silages were low during both seasons. Average butyric acid
concentrations in these silages ranged from values near zero to 0.02%
(dry basis). For Mott silages, means ranged from values near zero to
0.12%. No treatment effects were obtained.
Ammoniacal N percentages of total N for PI 300086 elephantgrass
and L79-1002 energycane silages for 1987 are listed in Table 21. Mean
ammoniacal N values for both grasses ranged from 7.7 to 11.0%. For
PI 300086 elephantgrass silages, a linear decrease (P<0.01) in
ammoniacal N percentages with more frequent harvesting was obtained.
Several researchers from Brazil have conducted silage studies with
elephantgrass. Silveira et al. (1979) ensiled direct-cut 62-day
regrowth from four genotypes of elephantgrass. After 150 days of
storage, samples were collected. Mean silage pH values and lactic acid
contents varied from 4.1 to 4.4 and from 5.8 to 7.9% (dry basis),
respectively. Average acetic acid levels ranged from 2.7 to 5.9% (dry
basis). Butyric acid levels reported varied from 0.01 to 0.03% (dry
basis) whereas mean ammoniacal N percentages of total N ranged from 13.3
to 17.6. With elephantgrass ensiled at 9 to 10 weeks of age, Vilela et
al. (1983) reported an average silage pH of 3.9. Mean lactic, acetic,
and butyric acid contents were 1.5, 2.0, and 0.23% (dry basis),
respectively. The mean ammoniacal N level was 17.3% of total N. Veiga
and Campos (1975) ensiled direct-cut elephantgrass at an advanced stage
of growth. The forages used contained 28% DM and 3.6% crude protein
(dry basis). With their controls (no additives) the mean silage pH and
lactic acid content was 3.9 and 2.2% (dry basis), respectively.

53
Table 21. Ammoniacal N percentage of total N in PI 300086
elephantgrass and L79-1002 energycane silages made from
plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in 1987 at
Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Ammoniacal
N
Harvests in
1987
1
2
3
<7
PI 300086
L**
11.0a§
10.5a
9.6a
L79-1002
L* Q*
10.1a
7.7b
8.6a
o
uieans in the
same column
followed by the same letter
are not
different at
the 5% level according to
DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

54
Many attempts have been made to index silage fermentation quality
according to various guidelines. The Breirem and Ulvesli system
outlined by McCullough (1978) characterizes desirable silages as those
having pH values lower than 4.2; lactic and acetic acid contents
ranging from 1.5 to 2.5% and from 0.5 to 0.8% (dry basis),
respectively; butyric acid levels that are below 0.1% (dry basis) and
ammoniacal N levels that do not exceed 5 to 8% of total biomass N.
Using the guidelines above to rank the silages in the present
study, silages made from immature forages harvested from plots cut
three times per season should be considered the lowest in terms of
fermentation quality due mainly to the elevated acetic acid levels and
the higher pH values that were recorded, particularly with those
silages made from L79-1002 energycane and Mott dwarf elephantgrass.
The silages made from full-season growth are the highest in
fermentation quality while those made from plants harvested two times
per season could be considered intermediate. It should be noted that
silage quality expressed in terms of animal performance or methane
yield may result in different "quality" rankings.
The Flieg point system modified by Zimmer and outlined by
Woolford (1984) is a scoring procedure that is used for the quality
indexing of silages. Scores range from zero to 100 where the latter
number is the most desirable. Scoring is based on the relative
proportions of acetic, butyric, and lactic acids to the total sum of
these acids contained in a silage. More points are awarded to a
silage when lactic acid, expressed as a percentage of total acids,

55
makes up the larger portion whereas fewer points are given when acetic
and butyric acids make up the larger portions of total acids.
In the present study, the mean lactic acid portions of total
acids during both seasons varied from 69 to 90% in PI 300086 and
Merkeron elephantgrass silages for all harvest treatments (Tables 22
and 23). The energycane L79-1002 and Mott elephantgrass silages made
from full-season growth also had high lactic acid percentages.
However, with multiple harvests, lactic acid made up smaller portions
due to the relative increase of acetic acid. From the same tables,
the mean acetic acid percentages of total acids can be closely
approximated by subtracting the mean lactic acid percentages from 100,
since butyric acid contents in silages were negligible. Furthermore,
the statistical results shown in Tables 22 and 23 were the same for
acetic acid percentages. Overall, there was a tendency for the mean
lactic acid percentages to decrease with more frequent harvesting.
Conversely, the acetic acid percentages tended to increase.
Average Flieg scores for PI 300086 and Merkeron silages over all
harvest treatments ranged from 84 to 100 (Tables 24 and 25).
According to the Flieg index system, these scores denote very high
silage quality. Lower scores were associated with silages made from
immature L79-1002 energycane and Mott elephantgrass forages. The
lowest mean score of 51, however, reflects average quality.
From a strict quantitative standpoint, one of the best indicators of
the effectiveness of the ensilage process on the preservation of biomass
is DM recovery. During both seasons, average DM recoveries for all

56
Table 22. Lactic acid percentage of total acids in elephantgrass and
energycane silages made from plants grown under one, two,
and three harvests in 1986 at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL.
Lactic acid
Harvests in 1986
Genotype
F-test"
1
2
3
PI 300086
88a§
90a
72a
Merkeron
89a
81a
69a
L79-1002Í
L** Q**
88a
81a
21b
Mott 82
69
53
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
ÍTotal acids include acetic, butyric,
and
lactic acids.
§
Means in the same column followed by
different at the 5% level according
the same letter are not
to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

57
Table 23. Lactic acid percentage of total acids in elephantgrass and
energycane silages made from plants grown under one, two,
and three harvests in 1987 at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Lactic acid
Harvests in 1987
1
2
3
/o OI LOLal aClQST
PI 300086
86a§
78ab
88a
Merkeron
L**
87a
84a
77ab
L79-1002^
78b
56b
62b
Mott
L** Q*
89
59
47
^Energycane
(Saccharum spp.).
^Total acids
include acetic,
butyric,
and lactic acids.
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

58
Table 24. Flieg score of elephantgrass and energycane silages made
from plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in
1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FI.
Genotype
F-test^
Total Flieg points
Harvests in 1986
1
2
3
PI 300086
99a§
100a
87a
Merkeron
100a
96a
84a
L79-10021
L** Q**
100a
97a
51b
Mott
84
84
65
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

59
Table 25. Flieg score of elephantgrass and energycane silages made
from plants grown under one, two, and three harvests in
1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Total Flieg points
Harvests in 1987
1
2
3
PI 300086
99a§
93a
100a
Merkeron
99ab
97a
94ab
L79-1002^
94b
69b
76b
Mott
L** Q**
100
70
63
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
«j
Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

60
treatment combinations ranged from 84 to 98% (Tables 26 and 27).
Although some linear effects did appear, it is still unclear how DM
recovery is affected by harvest frequency. It is interesting to note
that with an ensiling method similar to the one used in the present
study, Brown and Chavalimu (1985) reported a 96% DM recovery for
elephantgrass harvested at 5 weeks of age.
Utilization of Elephantgrass Silage
At this point it is reasonable to conclude that elephantgrass at
various stages of plant maturity can be successfully stored for
prolonged periods using the ensilage process. However, further
investigation is needed to determine the types of silages that can be
most efficiently transformed into commercial products such as meat,
milk, and biogas.
In ruminant nutrition, animal performance is a function of
voluntary intake and digestibility of the forage being fed (Moore and
Mott, 1973). In the present study, the ensiling of elephantgrass and
energycane did not result in major changes in the original IVOMDs
shown in Tables 5 and 6 of Chapter Two. The mean percentage point
differences during 1986-87 between IVOMDs before and after ensiling
(Silage IVOMD - Original IVOMD = Difference) ranged from -9.4 to +4.2
(Table 28). The overall mean difference for all treatment
combinations during both years was -1.6. It should be noted that the
IVOMD values recorded for ensiled plant materials (not shown) may have
been slightly underestimated due to the losses of volatile substances
during the oven-drying of samples. The Moore and Mott (1974) IVOMD

61
Table 26. Dry matter recovery of elephantgrass and energycane forages
that were stored by ensiling in 1986 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
F-test^
Dry matter recovery
Harvests in 1986
1 2 3
Average^
7
PI 300086
88
90
89
89a
Merkeron
91
89
87
89a
L79-1002^
91
87
88
89a
Overall average
90
89
88
Mott
L**
94
87
86
89
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
^Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

62
Table 27. Dry matter recovery of elephantgrass and energycane forages
that were stored by ensiling in 1987 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Dry matter recovery
Harvests in 1987
Genotype F-test'
1
2
3
Average^
7
PI 300086
91
93
96
94a
Merkeron
92
92
93
92a
L79-1002t
84
89
92
89b
Overall average L**
89
91
94
Mott
98
92
94
95
^Ener gycane (Saccharum spp.).
§
Means in the same column followed by the same letter are not
different at the 5% level according to DMRT.
If
Linear (L) and/or quadratic (Q) effects are significant over harvest
treatments, P<0.01 (**) or P<0.05 (*).

63
Table 28. Mean percentage point difference between in vitro organic
matter digestibilities before and after the ensiling of
elephantgrass and energycane which were gathered from plots
harvested one, two, and three times per year at the Green
Acres research farm near Gainesville, FL, during 1986-87.
Genotype
Year
IVOMD difference
Harvests yr-^
1
2
3
<7
PI 300086
1986
2.6§
-1.6
-0.4
Merkeron
1986
-0.9
-3.2
-1.3
L79-1002t
1986
0.5
-5.9*
-1.9
Mott
1986
-0.4
-3.8*
1.3
PI 300086
1987
-4.6
-2.8
2.2**
Merkeron
1987
-4.3
-5.2
1.3*
L79-1002
1987
-9.4*
-5.7*
-1.5
Mott
1987
2.7*
-0.2
4.2*
tEnergycane (Saccharum spp.).
C
^Differences were computed as follows: Silage IVOMD - Original
IVOMD = Difference.
*,**Original forage and corresponding silage IVOMDs were significantly
different at the 5 and 1% levels, respectively, according to the
F-test.

64
procedure used for determinations involved 105°C oven-drying of
previously dried samples (at 60°C) for 15 hours. Nevertheless, the
data clearly demonstrate that ensiling is not a major factor affecting
IVOMD. Therefore, the major factors affecting silage IVOMD would be
the same as those affecting the IVOMD of original biomass such as
harvest frequency and genotype. Working with sheep, Demarquilly
(1973) observed similar results. Mean percentage point differences in
apparent organic matter digestibility (corrected for volatile losses)
between initial forages of several plant species and their
corresponding silages ranged from -12.8 to +3.0. He concluded that
the digestibility of ensiled material is mainly dependent on that of
the original plant herbage at the time of harvest.
Many studies have shown the voluntary intake of silage to be
lower than that of the original forage prior to ensiling (Wilkinson et
al., 1976). The magnitudes of these reductions can be highly
variable. Working with sheep, Demarquilly (1973) reported reductions
in voluntary intake of silages that were made from several forage
species, ranging from one to 64% when compared to the intakes of the
original standing forages. The greater reductions in intake were
attributed to silages with higher levels of volatile fatty acids,
particularly acetic acid. The lesser reductions were related to
silages that contained mostly lactic acid as the end-product of
fermentation. Wilkins et al. (1971) also showed that the voluntary
intake of sheep was negatively correlated with acetic acid contents in
silages made from several forage species. Furthermore, their results
showed that silage Flieg scores and intake were positively correlated.

65
In the present study, the silages containing the higher levels of
acetic acid such as those made from immature Mott dwarf elephantgrass
are the most likely to have problems with reduced voluntary intake.
In the literature, daily voluntary intakes of elephantgrass
silage have been variable. In Cuba, Michelena et al. (1979) fed
elephantgrass silage ad_ libitum plus minerals over a 160- to 180-day
period to holstein x zebu bulls averaging 247 kg in liveweight. The
silage contained 26% DM and a crude protein content of 4.8% (dry
basis). Mean daily consumption of DM was 2.4% of liveweight. In
Brazil, Vilela et al. (1983) fed elephantgrass silage to holstein x
Zebu heifers averaging 258 kg in liveweight. The silage was made from
9- to 10-week old forage and contained 21% DM and 4.4% crude protein
(dry basis). Average daily consumption of DM was estimated to be 2.7%
of liveweight.
On the negative side, Cunha and Silva (1977) reported that
elephantgrass silage (ensiled with 3% molasses) fed alone during the
dry period in Brazil was inadequate for maintaining acceptable
production of cows just prior to and after calving. Silage
composition was 21% DM, 54% total digestible nutrients, and 8.1% crude
protein (dry basis). The ad libitum feeding of the silage plus salt
and minerals resulted in excessive postpartum weight loss of the cows,
poor calf development, and a reduced rebreeding percentage when
compared to a pasture feeding system. The poor performance was
attributed to inadequate daily DM consumption. The average daily
intake of DM was only 5.8 kg. The mean initial weight of the cows was
507 kg. In India, Nooruddiu and Roy (1975) fed elephantgrass silage

66
ad libitum plus salt to mature steers averaging 237 kg in liveweight.
The estimated contents of crude protein and total digestible nutrients
in the silage were 5.1 and 46% (dry basis), respectively. Mean daily
DM intake over an 18-day period was 1.3% of liveweight.
In a methane production system, the loading rate of biomass is
not under the voluntary control of anaerobic digesters. It can be
controlled and adjusted by the operator to optimize conversion rates
depending on the given circumstances. Therefore, loading rate should
not be a potential limiting factor as voluntary intake is in livestock
feeding systems. Furthermore, high levels of acetic acid in silage
which limits voluntary intake in ruminants, should not be a problem in
anaerobic methane digestion, since it is a major substrate used by
methanogenic bacteria (Gottschalk, 1979). However, if acetic acid is
the major end-product of the ensilage process, the quality of
preservation could be reduced because it is a weaker acid compared to
lactic acid. This would increase the chances of substantial DM losses
during a prolonged storage period.
The DM losses that occur during normal ensiling fermentations may
not greatly reduce the potential methane production per unit of land
area that is expected from a system where the biomass after harvesting
is immediately placed in a methane digester. The gross energy content
is as much as 10% greater per unit dry matter in silage than in the
initial biomass before ensiling (Woolford, 1984). In the present
study, methane yields per kg of volatile solid from a limited number
of samples, have been higher for elephantgrass silage than those of
original fresh biomass. Average methane yields for fresh PI 300096

67
elephantgrass gathered during the first cutting within the three
-1 3
harvest yr treatment during 1986 and 1987 were 0.28 and 0.29 std m
kg-'*’ VS, respectively. Average yields from the corresponding silages
were 0.33 and 0.33 std m , respectively. The methane yields of silage
samples may, however, be inflated due to problems associated with the
estimation of DM content of silage. At the Bioprocess Engineering
Research Laboratory where the bioassays were conducted, an 105°C oven
temperature was used for drying silage samples. At that temperature
significant losses of volatile substances may have occurred during
drying. Further detailed investigations are needed to determine if
ensiling biomass improves methane yield.
Conclusions
Elephantgrass and energycane grown under one, two, and three
harvests per season can be successfully stored for prolonged periods
through the process of ensilage fermentation and without the use of
additives. The success of ensiling these erect bunchgrasses in the
present study is associated with a combination of desirable
characteristics of the original fresh biomass. The fresh chopped
plant materials apparently contained adequate levels of water soluble
carbohydrates that provided energy for fermentation bacteria to
proliferate. In addition, the initial forages possessed low buffering
capacities (low resistances to pH changes). This combination of
attributes of the freshly harvested herbage helps to explain the ease
with which these grasses were ensiled.

68
Lactic acid was the primary end-product of fermentation in
silages made from the tall elephantgrass genotypes PI 300086 and
Merkeron under all harvest frequencies and from the full-season growth
of L79-1002 energycane and Mott dwarf elephantgrass. However, with
silages made from immature plants of L79-1002 and Mott, analysis
showed that lactic and acetic acids were both major end-components of
silage fermentation. The elevated acetic acid levels in Mott silages
may negatively affect voluntary intake of ruminants. In a methane
energy production system acetic acid being a major end-product of
fermentation, should not affect methane yields per volatile solid of
silage, but could reduce the preservation quality of the biomass,
leading to greater chances of losing substantial amounts of DM during
a prolonged storage period.
From a strict quantitative standpoint, the forages produced
during the present study were effectively stored using the ensilage
process. However, further investigations are needed to determine from
an ultimate production standpoint, whether elephantgrass and
energycane can be stored as silage and then efficiently converted into
meat, milk, or energy products.

CHAPTER 4
GENERAL SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Elephantgrass is a perennial erect-growing bunchgrass indigenous
to the wet equatorial areas in Africa. Recently, interests in this
plant species have increased in several agricultural disciplines.
Highly productive "tall" genotypes can be utilized as a biomass crop
for energy or a soilage crop for ruminants such as dairy and beef
cattle. For grazing animals, "dwarf" genotypes have been shown to be
of high forage quality and are persistent under moderate grazing
conditions.
In a 2-year study conducted on a dry, infertile site and under
the subtropical conditions near Gainesville, the response of
elephantgrass to three harvest frequencies was measured. Genotypes
evaluated were four "tall" elephantgrasses (PI 300086, Merkeron, N-43,
and N-51), a "dwarf" elephantgrass ('Mott'), a "semi-dwarf" Pennisetum
glaucum (L.) R. Br. x _P. purpureum Schum. hybrid (Selection No. 3) and
a "tall" Saccharum species of energycane (L79-1002). To determine if
these grasses could be stored as silage, the fresh chopped plant
materials of PI 300086, Merkeron, Mott, and L79-1002 were hand-packed
into 20-liter plastic containers lined with two 4-mil plastic bags.
Average dry biomass yields for the four tall elephantgrasses
during the 1986-87 growing seasons were 27, 24, and 18 Mg ha ^ yr ^
for one, two, and three harvests per season, respectively. In vitro
organic matter digestibilities were 40, 49, and 55%, while crude
69

70
protein contents were 4.0, 5.8, and 7.9% (dry basis), respectively.
Two-year averages for ash-free neutral detergent fiber were 81, 76,
and 74% (dry basis).
Oven dry biomass yields for L79-1002 energycane were inferior to
the tall elephantgrasses during 1986 but did not differ the following
season. Energycane yields declined with more frequent harvesting.
For the dwarf elephantgrass Mott, 2-year average dry biomass
yields were 13, 12, and 11 Mg ha ^ yr ^ for one, two, and three
harvests per season, respectively. In vitro organic matter
digestibilities were 40, 54, and 57%, while crude protein contents
were 5.3, 7.1, and 9.6%, respectively. Two-year means for neutral
detergent fiber were 77, 73, and 70%.
Elephantgrass genotypes Merkeron, N-43, N-51, and Mott and
L79-1002 energycane survived the experimental conditions. The
genotype PI 300086 was susceptible to winterkill, particularly when
harvested multiple times per season. An almost complete loss of stand
occurred in Selection No. 3 plots during the 2-year study.
Predicted methane production ha ^ for PI 300086 elephantgrass was
similar for the three harvest treatments, although the highest values
were recorded from two harvests per season.
Mean pH values ranged from 3.8 to 4.0 for the tall elephantgrass
silages made from plants harvested at the different frequencies. The
highest pH values were obtained from silages made from immature Mott
plants harvested three times yr ^ (2-year mean was 4.3). Water
soluble carbohydrate contents of fresh elephantgrass forages (range:
2.6 to 8.4%, dry basis) tended to increase with more frequent

71
harvesting. Buffering capacities of fresh PI 300086 and L79-1002
biomass were exceptionally low and also increased with more frequent
harvesting. Mean buffering capacities were less than 150 meq NaOH
kg 1 DM. Dry matter contents of fresh biomass decreased with more
frequent harvesting for all genotypes during both growing seasons.
Lactic acid was the major end-product of fermentation in most silages
with the exception of those made from immature Mott elephantgrass and
L79-1002 energycane plants where lactic and acetic acids were both
major components. Average lactic acid contents during both seasons
ranged from 1.4 to 5.3% (dry basis) for the elephantgrasses whereas
mean acetic acid levels ranged from 0.25 to 2.21% (dry basis). Acetic
acid contents in silages tended to increase when original plant
materials before ensiling were more immature and succulent as compared
to more mature materials. Butyric acid levels were negligible in all
silages. Mean ammoniacal N percentages of total N in PI 300086 and
L79-1002 silages ranged from 7.7 to 11.0. Dry matter recoveries for
all silages ranged from 84 to 98%. The in vitro organic matter
digestibility of silage was mainly dependent on the IV0MD of the
standing forages before ensiling.
The results of this study suggest the following general
conclusions:
(1) Substantial biomass yields of elephantgrass can be produced
without irrigation on dry, infertile sites and under the colder
subtropical climate of North Central Florida.
(2) For the four tall elephantgrasses and L79-1002 energycane,
as the number of harvests per growing season increases, the dry

72
biomass yields decline. With Mott dwarf elephantgrass, biomass yields
are less affected by the harvest frequencies included in this study.
(3) For tall and dwarf elephantgrasses, forage crude protein
contents and IVOMDs increase as the number of harvests per growing
season increases. Neutral detergent fiber concentrations gradually
decrease; however, major reductions do not occur.
(4) Variation in survival tolerance to increased harvest
frequency and the subtropical conditions near Gainesville exists among
genotypes. Elephantgrass genotypes Merkeron, N-43, N-51, and Mott and
L79-1002 energycane could be recommended for planting in the area
while PI 300086 and Selection No. 3 are not suitable.
(5) Elephantgrass and energycane grown under one, two, and three
harvests per growing season can be successfully stored for prolonged
periods through the ensiling process and without the use of additives.
(6) The ease with which the elephantgrasses and energycane were
ensiled can be attributed to adequate levels of water soluble
carbohydrates and the inherently low buffering capacities in the
standing forages at the time of harvest.
The data show that many of the forages and silages produced in
this study are potential sources of feedstocks that could be converted
into animal and energy products. However, before other definite
conclusions can be made, further investigations involving the actual
components of conversion systems are needed (i.e., involving animals
and anaerobic digesters). If problems do exist in a system such as
inadequate animal intake or insufficient net energy production, for
example, then it is likely they can be identified.

APPENDIX

Table 29. Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville,
FL.
Oven dry biomass yield
Harvests in 1986^
2
3
Genotype 1st 2nd 1st 2nd 3rd
Mg ha
PI 300086
15.51
14.21
7.19
8.25
6.32
Merkeron
15.57
12.10
7.68
8.51
5.19
N-43
15.27
12.05
6.64
7.90
4.62
N-51
15.51
12.04
5.67
7.30
5.01
L79-1002^
9.06
9.61
3.71
6.90
3.70
Selection No. 3^
9.02
8.67
3.91
5.54
2.46
Mott
8.20
6.56
3.96
5.14
2.66
f
Í
§
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
For oven dry biomass yield of full-season growth refer to Table
1.
74

75
Table 30. Oven dry biomass yield of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville,
FL.
Genotype
Oven dry biomass
yield
Harvests in 1987^
l
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
PI 300086
12.34
7.93
4.80
5.55
2.54
Merkeron
12.51
8.26
6.74
7.32
2.10
N-43
12.48
8.10
6.34
6.61
1.98
N-51
11.64
6.46
6.49
7.29
2.34
L79-1002’*’
9.37
8.50
4.16
7.07
2.44
Selection No. 3^
2.93
1.14
3.40
2.63
0.19
Mott
5.83
3.39
4.51
4.46
0.79
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
For oven dry biomass yield of full-season growth refer to Table 2.

76
Table 31. Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville,
FL.
Genotype
Crude protein
Harvests in 1986
§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
/o, ary Uasis
PI 300086
6.02
5.20
6.87
9.39
7.46
Merkeron
5.98
4.70
6.86
9.25
8.08
N-43
8.18
5.59
7.23
9.18
7.37
N-51
5.44
5.11
7.29
9.31
8.03
L79-1002t
5.93
5.11
8.05
8.40
7.06
Selection No. 3^
8.42
6.49
7.30
11.13
10.62
Mott
7.53
6.17
7.36
10.21
8.74
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
§
For crude protein content of full-season growth refer to Table 3.

77
Table 32. Crude protein content of elephantgrass genotypes from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during
FL.
1987 at Green
Acres
research farm
near (
Gainesville,
Crude protein
Harvests in 1987
§
2
3
Genotype
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
/o, ary uasis
PI 300086
5.66
6.52
5.79
6.40
10.37
Merkeron
5.62
6.20
5.94
6.25
10.39
N-43
4.84
6.26
7.06
6.78
11.27
N-51
4.94
6.34
6.35
6.61
10.27
L79-1002Í
5.29
6.03
7.05
5.67
9.24
Selection
No. 3*
7.65
—
9.96
9.36
—
Mott
6.09
8.54
7.37
7.59
16.31
1*
'Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
i
+Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
For crude protein content of full-season growth refer to Table 4.

78
Table 33. In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1986 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
IVOMD
Harvests in 1986^
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
<7
PI 300086
46.2
48.2
55.6
55.5
53.8
Merkeron
48.5
49.6
58.5
56.9
51.7
N-43
52.5
50.9
58.8
57.2
52.7
N-51
49.4
48.9
57.7
56.1
54.1
L79-1002^
47.5
47.4
51.1
50.7
48.7
Selection No. 3^
57.4
54.3
61.2
59.9
48.2
Mott
55.4
54.1
61.6
59.9
51.3
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
S
For IVOMD of full-season growth refer to Table 5.

79
Table 34. In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1987 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
IVOMD
Harvests in 1987§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
PI 300086
50.8
43.6
58.1
49.5
54.0
Merkeron
53.7
46.8
59.6
53.1
50.9
N-43
51.3
46.3
59.7
54.1
52.3
N-51
51.2
42.9
59.5
52.8
52.5
L79-1002Í
47.8
46.9
52.2
45.2
53.1
Selection No. 3^
57.2
—
60.0
54.3
—
Mott
59.3
47.4
58.3
57.8
51.4
1*
'Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
+
*Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
O
sFor IVOMD of full-season growth refer to Table 6.

80
Table 35. Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1986 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
NDF
Harvests in 1986§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
a
” /
o, til y uaoi:
PI 300086
80.6
75.1
77.3
75.0
74.7
Merkeron
76.4
75.7
73.8
73.9
71.6
N-43
75.5
74.5
75.2
72.9
73.0
N-51
77.7
76.5
75.3
73.2
72.3
L79-1002^
78.0
77.5
76.0
77.2
77.9
Selection No. 3^
71.3
72.7
68.6
68.0
67.4
Mott
73.0
73.4
69.8
71.0
68.5
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
yFor NDF content of full-season growth refer to Table 7.

81
Table 36. Ash-free neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of
elephantgrass genotypes from single harvests within
multiple harvest treatments made during 1987 at Green Acres
research farm near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
NDF
Harvests in 1987^
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
q
“ A
o , ary Dasis â–  â– 
PI 300086
76.5
78.5
74.9
80.4
73.6
Merkeron
74.8
76.1
73.6
77.4
73.5
N-43
76.2
74.8
72.0
77.0
73.2
N-51
76.7
78.0
73.1
77.1
72.2
L79-1002^
76.8
75.4
77.3
81.6
75.5
Selection No. 3*
67.7
—
66.4
71.6
—
Mott
69.9
74.7
69.3
73.8
65.6
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
^Pearlmillet x elephantgrass hybrid.
§
For NDF content of full-season growth refer to Table 8.

82
Table 37. Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1986 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville,
FL.
Genotype
Dry matter
Harvests in 1986
§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
<7
PI 300086
22.7
29.5
17.5
18.8
20.6
Merkeron
21.3
29.5
16.5
19.0
24.6
L79-1002’*’
22.0
26.6
18.4
21.6
23.1
Mott
21.2
25.4
20.3
18.5
22.9
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
C
yFor dry matter content of full-season growth refer to Table 11.

S3
Table 38. Dry matter content of elephantgrass and energycane from
single harvests within multiple harvest treatments made
during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near Gainesville,
FL.
Genotype
Dry matter
Harvests in 1987
§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
PI 300086
25.3
27.4
18.9
20.5
19.4
Merkeron
23.0
26.9
17.3
19.5
24.0
L79-1002^
21.8
28.3
20.3
20.2
26.3
Mott
20.0
28.0
19.1
20.0
35.4
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
o
yFor dry matter content of full-season growth refer to Table 12.

84
Table 39. Water soluble carbohydrate (WSCHO) content of elephantgrass
and energycane from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments made during 1987 at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL.
WSCHO
Harvests in 1987§
2
3
Genotype
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
dry basis
/o ,
PI 300086
10.64
6.09
10.43
10.88
3.16
Merkeron
9.12
5.98
10.28
10.38
2.92
L79-1002^
12.04
7.06
8.52
8.73
4.18
Mott
7.17
1.97
7.79
6.13
—
^Energycane
(Saccharum spp.).
§For WSCHO
content of full-season growth
refer to
Table 13.

85
Table 40. Buffering capacity of PI 300086 elephantgrass and L79-1002
energycane from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments made during 1987 at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
Buffering capacity
Harvests in 1987§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
~ Wnrra i,„~l
Twt
L1C4 iiavii ivg
PI 300086
76.2
78.9
99.8
81.3
156.2
L79-1002
148.7
112.7
175.3
130.0
131.9
^Milliequivalents of NaOH required to
raise the pH of one kg
of
biomass DM from 4.0 to 6.0
•
§
For buffering
capacity of
full-season
growth refer to Table
14.

86
Table 41. The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made with
plants from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments during
Gainesville, FL.
1986 at
Green Acres research farm
near
Silage
pH
Harvests in
1986§
2
3
Genotype
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
PI 300086
3.91
3.81
3.92
4.03
3.92
Merkeron
3.91
3.86
3.97
4.02
4.14
L79-1002^
3.97
3.88
4.10
4.39
4.33
Mott
4.21
4.08
4.05
4.50
4.26
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
yFor pH of silages made from full-season growth refer to Table 15.

87
Table 42. The pH of elephantgrass and energycane silages made with
plants from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments during
Gainesville, FL.
1987 at
Green Acres research farm
near
Silage
pH
Harvests in
1987§
2
3
Genotype
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
PI 300086
3.80
3.76
3.89
3.76
3.89
Merkeron
3.81
3.71
3.88
3.79
3.94
L79-1002^
4.17
3.83
4.11
4.06
3.95
Mott
4.23
4.27
4.33
4.42
—
4*
'Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
yFor pH of silages made from full-season growth refer to Table 16.

88
Table 43. Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made with plants from single harvests within multiple
harvest treatments during 1986 at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL.
Lactic acid
Harvests in 1986^
2
3
Genotype 1st 2nd 1st 2nd 3rd
%, dry basis
PI 300086
3.07
3.00
3.58
3.83
3.50
Merkeron
3.40
3.45
2.14
4.79
3.76
L79-1002t
2.30
3.30
1.07
0.03
0.89
Mott
2.74
3.93
2.63
0.33
4.23
^Energycane (Saccharum spp.
).
§For lactic
acid content of
silages made
from full-
-season
growth refer
to Table 17.

89
Table 44. Lactic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made with plants from single harvests within multiple
harvest treatments during 1987 at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
Lactic acid
Harvests in 1987§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
/o, ary uasis
PI 300086
1.91
3.38
2.23
5.37
8.30
Merkeron
4.23
3.94
2.50
5.68
5.38
L79-1002t
0.68
3.74
1.58
2.86
4.56
Mott
2.55
3.81
1.44
2.57
—
^"Energycane
(Saccharum spp.
).
§For lactic
acid content of
silages i
made from full-
-season
growth refer
to Table 18.

90
Table 45. Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made with plants from single harvests within multiple
harvest treatments during 1986 at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
Acetic acid
Harvests in 1986^
)
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
<7
,
/o
i uj. y uaai;
PI 300086
0.37
0.28
1.44
0.62
0.76
Merkeron
1.05
0.44
2.53
1.33
0.88
L79-1002Í
0.90
0.40
2.35
3.26
2.03
Mott
2.23
0.67
1.10
4.11
1.35
t
§
Energycane (Saccharum spp.).
For acetic acid content of silages made from full-season growth refer
to Table 19.

91
Table 46. Acetic acid content of elephantgrass and energycane silages
made with plants from single harvests within multiple
harvest treatments during 1987 at Green Acres research farm
near Gainesville, FL.
Acetic acid
Harvests in 1987§
2
3
Genotype
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
dry basis
/o ,
PI 300086 •
1.15
0.31
0.30
0.42
1.34
Merkeron
0.92
0.62
1.44
1.19
1.32
L79-1002^
2.70
0.60
2.11
2.29
0.75
Mott
2.55
1.81
2.65
1.77
—
^Energycane
(Saccharum spp.
).
§For acetic
acid content of
silages made
from full-
•season
growth refe]
to Table 20.

92
Table 47. Ammoniacal N percentage of total N in PI 300086
elephantgrass and L79-1002 energycane silages made with
plants from single harvests within multiple harvest
treatments during 1987 at Green Acres research farm near
Gainesville, FL.
Genotype
Ammoniacal
N
Harvests in
1987§
2
3
1st
2nd
1st
2nd
3rd
PI 300086
10.57
10.44
9.59
9.26
9.90
L79-1002
7.72
7.62
9.24
9.85
6.74
C
yFor ammoniacal N percentage of total N of silages made from full-
season growth refer to Table 21.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Kenneth Robert Woodard was born on December 30, 1954, in
Leesburg, Florida. He grew up on his family's dairy farm in Lake
Panasoffkee, Florida, where he presently lives. He graduated from
South Sumter High School in 1972. In 1975, he received the American
Farmer degree from the Future Farmers of America. While farming
watermelons from 1972 to 1980, he attended Lake-Sumter Community
College and then the University of Florida in the off-seasons, thereby
receiving his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree in June 1981.
In May 1985, he received a Master of Science degree at the University
of Florida. Shortly after, he continued his academic program at the
University of Florida working toward a Doctor of Philosophy degree in
agronomy with emphasis in forage research.
98

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy.
Urn
I
\Yv
•n
i
v-
Gordon M. Prine, Chairman
Professor of Agronomy
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy.
Loy V. Crowder
Professor of Agronomy
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy.
Stanley C. Schank
Professor of Agronomy
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy.
Ll
Vi
William E. Kunkle
Associate Professor of Animal
Science

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy.
Douglas B. Bates
Assistant Professor of Animal
Science
This dissertation
College of Agriculture
partial fulfillment of
Philosophy.
August 1989
was submitted to the graduate faculty of the
and to the Graduate School and was accepted as
the requirements for the degree of Doctor of
(j , -r *
X
Dean, (^llege of Agricu
re
Dean, Graduate School

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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