The objective of this study was to evaluate Cynodon species ‘Tifton 85’ at different hay production phases (harvest, baling, and storage) and different (N) rates. Dehydration of the first crop was carried out in the field, while the second crop was in the shed. Dry matter and protein content increased linearly with the N rates. Dehydration in the shed was not effective for hay production, since dry matter did not reach the desired level of 850 g kg-1. During the hay production period (harvest, baling, and storage), the content of acid detergent fiber of the first crop and the second crop increased by 25.32 and 7.38%, respectively, and that of lignin increased by 21.33 and 32.27%, respectively. Forage digestibility decreased by 4.55%, when dehydration occurred in the field, whereas it decreased by 14.68% when dehydration occurred in the shed, a difference higher than 300% due to the loss of soluble carbohydrates. Overall, the findings of this study indicate that forage dehydration for hay production needs to be carried out in the field under appropriate environmental conditions to prevent nutritional losses. Additionally, dry matter of Tifton 85 increased by 20.40% and protein content increased by 18.65%, which equals 514.27 kg of soybean meal at 100 kg ha-1 of N.
Key words: Fertilization rates, hay production, nutrient quality of forage, pasture.
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