Submitted to: Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2004
Publication Date: August 30, 2005
Citation: Sanderson, M.A., Gonet, J.M. 2005. Switchgrass yield, persistence, and nutritive value under grazing and clipping. Eastern Native Grass Symposium. p. 171-177. Interpretive Summary: Warm-season perennial grasses, such as switchgrass, can provide valuable forage during the summer and complement cool-season grass pastures. Information on the performance of newer switchgrass cultivars is needed for producer recommendations in the northeastern U.S. In this study, we determined the performance and nutritive value of switchgrass cultivars under grazing and clipping management. The results showed that annual variation and harvest management had larger effects on yield and nutritive value of switchgrass than did genetics of the switchgrass cultivars. The Trailblazer cultivar of switchgrass suffered from leaf diseases and lodging during very wet years. Cave-in-Rock and Shawnee switchgrass are equally suited for Pennsylvania and similar areas in the northeast.
Technical Abstract: New cultivars of switchgrass have been released in recent years but information on their performance and nutritive value in the northeast U.S. is needed for producer recommendations. Our objective was to determine the performance and nutritive value of switchgrass cultivars under grazing and clipping management. In 1999, Cave-in-Rock, Trailblazer, and Shawnee switchgrass were established in replicated plots at Rock Springs, PA and in replicated pastures on a farm in southeastern PA. In 2000 and 2001, two-cut and three-cut clipping treatments were imposed at Rock Springs. At the southeast PA farm, the switchgrass pastures were grazed three or four times per year during 2000 to 2004. Forage yield was determined before each grazing. Crude protein, neutral detergent fiber, and digestible neutral detergent fiber were determined on samples from each harvest. There were small and inconsistent differences among cultivars in yield and nutritive value. There was much more variation among years and management treatments than among switchgrass cultivars in forage yield and nutritive value. The Trailblazer cultivar appeared to suffer from leaf diseases and lodging during wet years. Cave-in-Rock and Shawnee are equally suited for Pennsylvania and similar areas in the northeast.