Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #321518

Title: Impact of rhizome quality on miscanthus establishment in claypan soil landscapes

item RANDALL, B - University Of Missouri
item Yost, Matt
item Kitchen, Newell
item HEATON, E - Iowa State University
item STELZER, H - University Of Missouri
item THOMPSON, A - University Of Missouri

Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2015
Publication Date: 2/5/2016
Citation: Randall, B.K., Yost, M.A., Kitchen, N.R., Heaton, E.A., Stelzer, H.E., Thompson, A.L. 2016. Impact of rhizome quality on miscanthus establishment in claypan soil landscapes. Industrial Crops and Products. 85(2016):331-340. doi: 10.1016/j.indcrop.2015.12.040.

Interpretive Summary: Miscanthus has the potential to be a very productive industrial and biomass crop on degraded soils with high clay content. It is currently produced on these types of soils on over five thousand hectares in Missouri and Arkansas through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. One of the largest costs associated with Miscanthus production is planting. Miscanthus is commonly planted or propagated using pieces of living Miscanthus roots called rhizomes. Research was conducted near Centralia and Columbia, Missouri during 2013 to 2015 to determine how miscanthus rhizome characteristics and soil depth to a restrictive clay layer influence its establishment, early growth, and survival over the winter. Results indicated that larger rhizomes (greater length and/or mass) generally resulted in improved Miscanthus emergence, growth, and winter survival during its first year. Furthermore, soil depth to the clay layer only affected early miscanthus growth. These results demonstrate that miscanthus can be successfully established on eroded soils and that larger rhizomes need to be used when propagating. This information will increase the amount of miscanthus that is successfully established by producers on eroded soils.

Technical Abstract: Thousands of degraded-soil hectares in the U.S. Midwest have been planted to Miscanthus × giganteus as an industrial or bioenergy crop in recent years, but few studies on factors affecting crop establishment have been performed on these soils. The objective of this study was to quantify how both rhizome quality and depth of soil from the surface to the first argillic horizon (or depth to claypan (DTC)) affected M. × giganteus establishment. Rhizome quality (i.e., mass, length, diameter, viable buds), emergence, growth, and winter survival were measured on rhizomes planted in 2013 at Columbia and 2014 at Centralia, Missouri with clay loam soils and a range of DTC. Rhizome emergence and early tillering slightly increased as DTC increased, but these effects on growth diminished as the season progressed. Rhizome emergence and growth were more influenced by rhizome quality. The odds of a rhizome emerging increased by 25 and 40% with each 1 cm and 1 bud increase in rhizome length and active bud count, respectively. Furthermore, late tiller counts, basal circumference, and end-of-season biomass increased as rhizome length and mass increased. Winter survival could not be estimated as well as emergence, but the odds of survival across sites increased by 5% with each 1 cm increase in rhizome length. When DTC was categorized as soil erosion class or landscape position, only the backslope at Centralia caused greater M. × giganteus growth than other positions. These findings demonstrate the resiliency of M. × giganteus for early growth and establishment on even the most degraded parts of the claypan soil landscape and indicate that propagating larger rhizomes will improve establishment.