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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Yield and Population Density Changes of Switchgrass Established under Sorghum/Sudangrass
Year: 2005
Author(s): Horton, D. S., Baldwin, B. S., Cossar, R. D.
Source Title: Proceedings of the 4th Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 36-40
Original Publication:  
Abstract: Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a warm-season C4 perennial grass common to the Great Plains of North America. As a species, switchgrass has been grown for greater than 50 years as forage and also been used in prairie restoration projects. Recent events in the energy markets have forced federal and state governments to look at high-yielding grasses as a source of carbon dioxide-neutral energy. However, many of the native grasses of North America are known to be extremely slow to establish due to low germination rates and slow seedling growth. In this study, switchgrass was established under a nurse-crop of sorghum-sudangrass. The sorghum-sudangrass provides a quick source of biomass during the establishment year, with the switchgrass providing subsequent biomass yields. The field was established as a split-plot. Main plots were sorghum harvest regime. Subplots were sorghum seeding densities. Varying sorghum-sudangrass densities were used to determine their effect on switchgrass establishment. Population counts and yield data were obtained each year. Initial stand counts indicated a strong effect of sorghum-sudangrass density. After the first year, populations of individual switchgrass crowns decreased from their initial levels. Yields and populations are still being monitored. Eighteen months after establishment, there was no observable effect of the sorghum/sudangrass treatment on number of crowns per acre. Regardless of original treatment, mean crown density was 57K/acre. By fall of 2003 (30 months after establishment), differences in yield due to original treatment also disappeared.
Publisher: The University of Kentucky Department of Forestry, Lexington, Kentucky
Editor(s): T. G. Barnes