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Switchgrass From North Dakota – An Adaptable And Promising Energy Crop For Northern Regions Of Europe

N. Lemežienė, E. Norkevičienė, Ž. Liatukas, G. Dabkevičienė, J. Cecevičienė, B. Butkutė
Published 2015 · Biology

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Searching for novel energy crops, an interest in C4-type plant switchgrass (SWG) has increased worldwide. The present research was aimed to study SWG genetic resources for most important agrobiological traits with a view of extending the range of energy plants in the Nemoral zone of Europe. SWG was studied for the peculiarities of developmental stages, winter hardiness, and dry matter (DM) yield. SWG regrowth in spring started one month later compared to the reed canary grass (variety ‘Chiefton’). All investigated genotypes matured seeds in the second half of September. The most winter-hardy SWG accessions (0–20% winter damage) were the majority of wild ecotypes and the variety ‘Dacotah’ from North Dakota (2–4 hardiness zone) as well as the variety ‘Summer’ from South Nebraska (4, 5 hardiness zone). Ecotypes from North Dakota exhibited a high breeding potential and prospects in Northern regions of Europe due to genotypic variation of winter hardiness trait. The varieties ‘Alamo’, ‘Falcon’, ‘Grenville’, ‘Shawnee’, and ‘Trailblazer’ that originated from warmer climate zones (6–9 hardiness zone) were heavily damaged or completely killed. The worst overwinter survival of plants was recorded after the first winter. DM yield was estimated at two regimens of cutting. When grass was cut once at seed maturity stage, DM yield in the first harvest year was 249 g per plant, in the second harvest year 349 g per plant, and in the third harvest year 493 g per plant. When grass was cut twice per season (at the beginning of anthesis and after regrowth of aftermath), DM yield was significantly lower: in the first harvest year the DM yield was 203 g per plant (18.4% less), in the second harvest year 182 g per plant (47.9% less), and in the third harvest year 272 g per plant (44.7% less).
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