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Keywords:

  • bioenergy;
  • biomass feedstock;
  • biomass yield;
  • environment effect;
  • Miscanthus;
  • N fertilization;
  • plant growth

Abstract

Miscanthus × giganteus is a C4 perennial grass that shows great potential as a high-yielding biomass crop. Scant research has been published that reports M. × giganteus growth and biomass yields in different environments in the United States. This study investigated the establishment success, plant growth, and dry biomass yield of M. × giganteus during its first three seasons at four locations (Urbana, IL; Lexington, KY; Mead, NE; Adelphia, NJ) in the United States. Three nitrogen rates (0, 60, and 120 kg ha−1) were applied at each location each year. Good survival of M. × giganteus during its first winter was observed at KY, NE, and NJ (79–100%), and poor survival at IL (25%), due to late planting and cold winter temperatures. Site soil conditions, and growing-season precipitation and temperature had the greatest impact on dry biomass yield between season 2 (2009) and season 3 (2010). Ideal 2010 weather conditions at NE resulted in significant yield increases (< 0.0001) of 15.6–27.4 Mg ha−1 from 2009 to 2010. Small yield increases in KY of 17.1 Mg ha−1 in 2009 to 19.0 Mg ha−1 in 2010 could be attributed to excessive spring rain and hot dry conditions late in the growing season. Average M. ×giganteus biomass yields in NJ decreased from 16.9 to 9.7 Mg ha−1 between 2009 and 2010 and were related to hot dry weather, and poor soil conditions. Season 3 yields were positively correlated with end-of-season plant height (inline image) and tiller density (inline image). Nitrogen fertilization had no significant effect on plant height, tiller density, or dry biomass yield at any of the sites during 2009 or 2010.