Submitted to: Experiment Station Bulletins
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/19/2014
Publication Date: 3/14/2014
Citation: Coblentz, W.K., Bertram, M.G., Hoffman, P.C., Esser, N.M. 2014. Management and production potential of eastern gamagrass in wisconsin. Experiment Station Bulletins. Vol. 16. No. 1. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Eastern gamagrass (EGG) is a perennial warm-season grass, and a distant relative of corn. Over the last 30 years, it has received considerable research attention, particularly in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas, but also across a much broader region that includes states with vastly different weather norms, such as Texas, Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, and New York. It is a native, perennial bunch-type grass that is adapted to moist sites, swales, and stream banks throughout much of the eastern United States. From a forage production standpoint, it is known for its high production potential, responsiveness to N fertilization, potential for multiple-harvest management, and suitability for conservation as silage. It also retains many of the typical nutritional characteristics associated with perennial warm-season grasses. These include: i) high concentrations of cell-wall components, such as NDF; ii) slower and/or poorer digestibility; iii) greater proportions of crude protein (CP) that bypass ruminal degradation; and iv) greater association of CP with NDF. Studies in Wisconsin have shown that this forage is not damaged by the colder climate in Wisconsin, and will produce yields of DM that exceed 4 tons/acre. Most extension recommendations caution against harvesting EGG within 5 to 6 weeks of first frost, but (in Wisconsin) this may not allow for adequate growing degree day accumulation in order to maximize yield. Additional studies have evaluated EGG in single-harvest systems timed from August 1 through November 1, and have not observed decreased persistence or plant death. Eastern gamagrass appears to be a viable forage option in Wisconsin, especially if the primary use is as a substitute for purchased chopped straw in blended diets; however, cautions remain with respect to herbicide options during establishment, and equipment traffic across large crowns.