GCB Bioenergy

Cover image for Vol. 7 Issue 4

Edited By: Steve Long

Impact Factor: 4.882

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2014: 1/81 (Agronomy); 11/88 (Energy & Fuels)

Online ISSN: 1757-1707

Associated Title(s): Global Change Biology

Thermal requirements for bioenergy grass germination

Thermal requirements for bioenergy grass germinationMiscanthus species can produce high yields with low inputs of fertilizers and pesticides, yet seed propagation has proven unreliable. It is possible that because Miscanthus species are of tropical and subtropical origin, they may have temperature requirements for germination that are not suited to seed propagation in more temperate environments. The potential of achieving viable seed establishment for Miscanthus would be to produce a cheap, reliably established energy crop that regularly produces higher yields than other grasses.

Clifton-Brown and coauthors evaluated the thermal requirements for germination of ten Miscanthus sinensis varieties and four additional candidate bioenergy crops that are established by planting seed directly into the field. They found that seed germination of Miscanthus was less tolerant of low temperatures than the other grasses. For example, Miscanthus seed required a higher temperature to germinate successfully (above 16.1 °C) than switchgrass (10.9 °C).

From this, the authors predict that seed establishment of Miscanthus in springtime is unlikely to be viable in Northern Europe under present climatic conditions. However, seed-based establishment may still be attainable in cooler regions. The potential bioenergy crops, Miscanthus and switchgrass, are genetically unimproved, especially compared to maize and forage crops, such as perennial ryegrass, which have been subject to intensive breeding effort. The genetic variation in thermal requirement for germination identified by the authors could be exploited in breeding Miscanthus suitable for seed-based establishment in much cooler regions such as Northern Europe. In addition, utilization of crop management practices that increase soil temperature after sowing can optimize the germination environment.

Clifton-Brown, J., Robson, P., Sanderson, R., Hastings, A., Valentine, J. And Donnison, I. (2011), Thermal requirements for seed germination in Miscanthus compared with Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinaceae), Maize (Zea mays) and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne). GCB Bioenergy. doi: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2011.01094.x

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