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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Evaluating Perennial Grass Cultivars for Their Use As Biomass Energy Crops in South Dakota

Location: Grain, Forage & Bioenergy Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
An objective of the CENUSA project is to obtain adaptation and biomass yield and quality information on perennial grasses grown for biomass energy in the Midwest, USA. To achieve this objective, uniform field evaluations of advanced experimental strains (candidate cultivars) and previously released cultivars of switchgrass, big bluestem, indiangrass, and prairie cordgrass need to be conducted throughout the CenUSA or Midwest region. One set of trials will be planted in spring 2012 and another set will be planted in spring 2014 when additional candidate cultivars are available. The specific objective of this agreement is to evaluate experimental strains and cultivars of switchgrass, big bluestem, indiangrass, and prairie cordgrass in South Dakota for use as biomass energy crops.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Experimental stains and previously released cultivars of switchgrass, big bluestem, indiangrass, and prairie cordgrass will be evaluated in replicated small plot sward trials at each location. The procedures used in the research will be similar to those described by Casler et al., 2007 (Crop Science 47:2249-2260). Specific protocols using best management practices and other experimental procedures and plans will be provided by the ARS cooperator. Separate trials will be planted for each species with the exception of prairie cordgrass, which will be included with another species. The trials will have 20 to 30 switchgrass entires, 10 to 20 big bluestem and indiangrass entries and about 5 prairie cordgrass entries. Year 1 will be the establishment year. Biomass yields, stands, and quality samples will be obtained in Year 2,3, and 4.for each set of trials.


3.Progress Report:

This project is a component of the Feedstock Development objective of a regional USDA-NIFA CAP funded project “Sustainable Production and Distribution of Bioenergy for the Central USA”. The objective of the project is to test experimental strains and released cultivars of switchgrass, big bluestem, and indiangrass for use as perennial bioenergy grasses in South Dakota and adjacent regions. Switchgrass, big bluestem, and indiangrass trials were planted as scheduled in a field site near Brookings, SD in the spring of 2012. Establishment was slow due to the severe drought conditions that existed in the region in 2012. Based on stand counts taken in late spring of 2013, the stands in the yield trials were adequate for most of the experimental strains and released cultivars. The trials will be harvested after a killing frost in the autumn of 2013 for biomass yield.


Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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