, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 580-590
Date: 10 Nov 2012

Bioenergy Traits of Ten Switchgrass Populations Grown in the Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic USA

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Abstract

Although switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) has emerged as a bioenergy crop throughout the midwestern and southern USA, little evaluation has been conducted on the performance of switchgrass as a bioenergy crop in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic. The objectives of this study were to evaluate biomass characteristics of ten switchgrass populations grown in New Jersey and to determine which populations are best for use in biomass production. Ten populations of switchgrass were planted in a spaced-plant nursery in Freehold, NJ and evaluated for: winter injury, anthracnose disease caused by Colletotrichum navitas, lodging, tiller density, height, heading and anthesis date, and biomass yield as well as cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, ash, chlorine, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium in 2007 and 2008. Eastern upland populations 9064202 (Cape May Plant Materials Center accession #9064202), High Tide, and Carthage showed the least amount of winter injury, while southern lowland populations Alamo and Cimarron showed the most winter injury. Lowland populations were less susceptible to anthracnose than upland ecotypes and were taller and later maturing with higher cellulose contents. Lowland populations NSL, Cimarron, and Timber showed the least amount of lodging, and upland populations had the highest tiller densities. Lowland populations Cimarron and Timber had the highest biomass yields of 906.9 and 803.6 kg dry matter plant−1, respectively. Lignocellulosic and mineral contents did not differ greatly among cultivars and generally did not show trends with respect to cytotype. Timber, an eastern lowland ecotype, exhibited the best combination of characteristics and is a promising population for biomass production in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region of the USA.