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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #310438

Research Project: Genetic Improvement of Sugarcane for Temperate Climates

Location: Sugarcane Research

Title: Biomass yield comparisons of giant miscanthus, giant reed, and miscane grown under irrigated and rainfed conditions

item BURNER, DAVID - Retired ARS Employee
item Hale, Anna
item CARVER, PAUL - New Energy Farms
item Pote, Daniel
item FRITSCHI, FELIX - University Of Missouri

Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/28/2015
Publication Date: 8/24/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Burner, D.M., Hale, A.L., Carver, P., Pote, D.H., Fritschi, F.B. 2015. Biomass yield comparisons of giant miscanthus, giant reed, and miscane grown under irrigated and rainfed conditions. Industrial Crops and Products. 76:1025-1032.

Interpretive Summary: The U.S. Department of Energy is seeking to decrease the nation’s dependence on imported oil by developing renewable sources of bioenergy that can be produced from crops grown by U.S farmers. As part of that effort, USDA-ARS researchers worked with university researchers to study three species of perennial grasses (giant miscanthus, giant reed, and sugarcane) and compare their biomass yields under irrigated and non-irrigated conditions during the first three years after planting. Giant reed produced more biomass than the other two grasses in all three years regardless of irrigation, but was especially productive in the second and third years after planting. This study is of interest to farmers, scientists, and agency personnel because it can help identify perennial crops that potentially offer the highest yields of biomass for domestic energy production.

Technical Abstract: The U.S. Department of Energy has initiated efforts to decrease the nation’s dependence on imported oil by developing domestic renewable sources of cellulosic-derived bioenergy. In this study, giant miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), sugarcane (complex hybrid of Saccharum spp.), and giant reed (Arundo donax) were grown on an upland site (35.08°N) to determine the potential of these perennial grasses as bioenergy feedstocks, with or without irrigation. Four replications of irrigated and rainfed plots with subplots of each grass species were planted on a silt loam, and biomass yields assessed annually in plant-cane, first ratoon, and second ratoon seasons. In the establishment year, dry matter yield from giant reed was greater than from giant miscanthus, but not significantly different from sugarcane. However, biomass yields of giant reed continued to increase significantly with every season, while giant miscanthus yields only increased from plant-cane to first ratoon, and sugarcane yields did not change with season. The sugarcane clone apparently did not have sufficient cold tolerance to ensure vigorous growth of ratoon crops at this latitude, but may be more productive in warmer climates. Giant miscanthus had the smallest stalk diameter each season, and the largest leaf:stem ratio in the plant-cane and first ratoon seasons. Total seasonal irrigation exceeded 580 mm and significantly increased dry matter yield of giant reed in the plant-cane and first ratoon seasons, but not in the second ratoon season. In both ratoon seasons, giant reed produced the tallest stalks, largest stalk diameters, and the greatest stem, leaf, and total dry matter yields. Giant reed was clearly the most productive of the three species despite growing on an upland site away from its usual lowland habitat.