Agronomic performance and chemical composition of three leguminous shrubs: Cratylia argentea, Calliandra calothyrsus and Leucaena leucocephala.
The forage yield and chemical composition of Cratylia argentea, Calliandra calothyrsus and L. leucocephala (cv. Cunningham) were evaluated in Lajas Valley, Puerto Rico. Cratylia argentea registered lower values of plant height and dry matter yield at 134 days after transplanting or DAT (0.46 m and 43.9 kg/ha, respectively) than Calliandra calothyrsus (1.32 m and 1133.4 kg/ha) and L. leucocephala (1.62 m and 1172.9 kg/ha, respectively). Cratylia argentea and Calliandra calothyrsus had the highest proportions of leaves (57.5 and 54.7%) and lower stems (42.5 and 45.2%). At 134 DAT, the leaves of Calliandra calothyrsus had the highest dry matter content (36.29%). The dry matter contents of Cratylia argentea and L. leucocephala did not significantly vary (28.43 and 27.77%). The dry matter content of stems did not significantly vary among the three legumes. Calliandra calothyrsus had the highest organic matter concentrations in leaves and stems (no marked differences in organic matter content between Cratylia argentea and L. leucocephala). The protein content was highest in L. leucocephala, followed by Cratylia argentea and Calliandra calothyrsus (21.94, 16.56 and 14.40%). The foliage neutral detergent fibre content was lower in L. leucocephala (40.17%) than in Calliandra calothyrsus (46.46%) and Cratylia argentea (57.20%). The acid detergent fibre content of the foliage was lower in L. leucocephala (19.04%) than in Cratylia argentea (43.88%) and Calliandra calothyrsus (35.70%). The neutral and acid detergent fibre contents of stems were higher in Calliandra calothyrsus (71.7% and 65.56%) and L. leucocephala (71.45 and 63.10%) than in Cratylia argentea (63.47 and 54.14%). The hemicellulose fraction in leaves and stems did not significantly vary among the species.