5. Switchgrass

  1. Douglas L. Karlen
  1. Rob Mitchell1,
  2. D.K. Lee2 and
  3. Michael Casler3

Published Online: 1 MAR 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9781118676332.ch5

Cellulosic Energy Cropping Systems

Cellulosic Energy Cropping Systems

How to Cite

Mitchell, R., Lee, D.K. and Casler, M. (2014) Switchgrass, in Cellulosic Energy Cropping Systems (ed D. L. Karlen), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118676332.ch5

Author Information

  1. 1

    Grain, Forage, and Bioenergy Research Unit, USDA Agricultural Research Service, U.S.A.

  2. 2

    Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois, U.S.A.

  3. 3

    U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, USDA Agricultural Research Service, U.S.A.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 MAR 2014
  2. Published Print: 13 MAR 2014

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781119991946

Online ISBN: 9781118676332



  • biomass;
  • cellulosic energy;
  • genetic improvement;
  • switchgrass


Like many perennial C<sub>4</sub> grasses, switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is highly tolerant to abiotic stresses such as drought, temperature extremes, and salinity. For that reason, it is being recommended for biomass production on marginally productive crop land where it would have minimal land use competition with commercial food crops. This chapter discusses phylogeny, growth, yield and chemical composition of switchgrass. It also discusses weed management, fertilizer recommendations, disease and pest management, harvest management and genetic improvements of the crop. Most breeding efforts have focused on increasing biomass yield, the most significant factor limiting economic sustainability of switchgrass as a cellulosic energy crop. Molecular biology tools and methods have been rapidly incorporated into a framework for switchgrass improvement, especially with recent advances in both cost and efficiency of molecular methods.