|| Lemus, R., Brummer, E. C., Moore, K. J., Molstad, N. E., Burras, C. L., Barker, M. F.
||Renewable bioenergy could be supplied by high yielding grass crops, such as switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.). Successful development of a bioenergy industry will depend on identifying cultivars with high yield potential and acceptable biofuel quality. The objective of this study was to evaluate 20 switchgrass populations in a field study planted in May 1997 in southern Iowa, USA. The populations included released cultivars and experimental germplasm of both upland and lowland ecotypes. Yield, plant height, stand, lodging, leaf:stem ratio, cell wall fiber, total plant nitrogen, and ash were determined on all entries between 1998 and 2001. Ultimate and proximate analyses together with chlorine and major oxide determinations were made on three cultivars in 2000 and 2001. Biomass yield was determined from a single autumn harvest each year. The lowland cultivars ’Alamo’ and ’Kanlow’ produced the most biomass, exceeding the production of the widely recommended upland cultivar ’Cave-In-Rock’. Other traits differed among the cultivars, although the range was less than that for yield. The differences among years were substantially greater for the ultimate, proximate, and major oxide analyses than differences among cultivars. The highest yielding cultivars had low ash, slightly lower fiber concentrations, and moderate levels of important minerals, suggesting that excellent germplasm is available for biofuel production. The persistence of the lowland cultivars in southern Iowa may need more research because the winters during the experiment were mild.