Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Second Floor
Switchgrass is a perennial C4 prairie grass species that is native to much of North America. It is cited as a high-yielding bioenergy feedstock with high cellulose content suitable for cellulosic ethanol production. However, seedling establishment is a primary concern for farmers given the inherent poor quality and variability in switchgrass seed dormancy. Determining current states of seed quality in terms of germination percentage is crucial for a successful stand establishment. A seed vigor test was used to determine current seed germination and then applied in the field to evaluate field emergence. This study evaluated five cultivars for vigor in the greenhouse and then adjusted the rate to 50% below and above the value determined in the greenhouse for field establishment. The label germination rate was also used as a comparison. Only four were planted in the field since one, the Wisconsin Ecotype had no seed germination in the greenhouse test. Results indicated this test might be useful in that the label rate based on the stated pure live seed and the 50% rate both had less than the desired 20 plants per 0.1m2 whereas the 100% and 150% were at or exceeded the targeted value except for Dacotah. This cultivar seems more of a wildlife type with a low open canopy than a cultivar suited for biofuel.