The fermentation characteristics and mono- and di-saccharides compositions during the early stage of ensiling were studied with a temperate grass, Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) and a tropical grass, guineagrass (Panicum maximum Jacq.). The laboratory silos were kept in the room set at 25°C, and then were opened on 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 days (14 days in Italian ryegrass) after ensiling, respectively. The Italian ryegrass silage showed a fast and large pH decrease caused by a fast and large production of lactic acid during the first 5 days of ensiling and succeeded to achieve lactic acid type fermentation; high lactic acid/acetic acid and lactic acid content at the end of ensiling (14 days), low values of pH (3.74), acetic acid, ethanol and ammonia-N/total nitrogen, none or only small amounts of Butyric acid, valeric acid and propionic acid. The guineagrass silage showed a slow decrease in pH and a slow increase in lactic acid content during the full ensiling period, causing a high final pH value, low contents of lactic acid, acetic acid, total volatile fatty acids and total organic acids. In Italian ryegrass silage, mono- and di-saccharides compositions decreased largely within the initial 0.5 day (12 h) of ensiling. Sucrose disappeared rapidly within the initial 0.5 day of ensiling, but fructose and glucose contents showed an initial rise by the activity of enzymes in plant tissues, and then decreased gradually. On the other hand, the contents of mono-and di-saccharides in guineagrass showed the largest decreases due mainly to plant respiration within the initial 0.5 day of ensiling, and no initial rises in fructose and glucose contents during the early stage of ensiling because of the absence of fructans which are hydrolyzed into fructose and glucose in temperate grasses. In both silages, the rate of reduction in mono- and di-saccharides compositions within the initial 5 days of ensiling was ranked in the order of glucose>fructose>sucrose, suggesting that glucose and fructose might be more favorably utilized than sucrose by microorganisms and glucose is the first fermentation substrate. It was concluded that the silage made from Italian ryegrass with high moisture content had a good fermentation quality owing to the dominance of lactic acid bacteria and active lactic acid fermentation during the initial stage of ensiling. These results can be explained by rapid plant sap liberation and the high activity of plant enzyme hydrolyzed fructans into fructose and glucose within the initial 2 days of ensiling, which stimulate the homofermentative lactic acid bacteria growth. In ensiling a temperate grass, the physical characteristics may ensure the rapid onset of fermentation phase, which results from the smaller losses of water-soluble carbohydrates during the initial stage of ensiling and providing sufficient water-soluble carbohydrates for lactic acid bacteria. The silage made from guineagrass with intermediate dry matter and high initial mono- and di-saccharides content was stable silage. This could be explained by the higher incorporation of air during the very early stage of ensiling and the restriction of cell breakdown and juice release due to the properties of a tropical grass with coarse porosity and stemmy structures. These physical characteristics delayed the onset of lactic acid bacteria fermentation phase by extending the phases of respiration and aerobic microorganisms activity, causing the higher loss of water-soluble carbohydrates and the shortage of lactic acid bacteria fermentation substrates.
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