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Information on the growth and development of warm-season grasses in response to management is required to use them successfully as a biomass crop. Our objectives were to determine optimum harvest periods and effect of N fertilization rates on the biomass production of four warm-season grasses, and to investigate if traits of canopy structure can explain observed yields with varying harvest dates and N rates. A field study was conducted at Sorenson Research Farm near Ames, IA, during 2006 and 2007. The experimental design was split-split plot arranged in a randomized complete block with four replications. Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman), eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides L.), indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutrans L. Nash), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) were main plots. Three N application rates (0, 65, and 140 kg ha−1) were subplots, and 10 harvest dates were sub-sub plots. Biomass of warm-season grasses increased with advanced maturity, but differently among species. The maximum yield of eastern gamagrass occurred at the highest MSC (1.6 and 2.2) when the largest seed ripening tillers were present. Big bluestem, switchgrass, and indiangrass obtained the maximum yields at MSC 3.5, 3.9, and 2.9, respectively when the largest reproductive tillers were present. In terms of a biomass supply strategy, eastern gamagrass may be used during early summer, while big bluestem and switchgrass may be best used between mid- and late- summer, and indiangrass in early fall. Nitrogen fertilization increased yield by increasing tiller development. Optimum biomass yields were obtained later in the season when they were fertilized with 140 kg ha−1.
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John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Waramit, Naroon; Moore, Kenneth J.; and Heaton, Emily A., "Nitrogen and harvest date affect developmental morphology and biomass yield of warm-season grasses" (2014). Agronomy Publications. 358.