Miscanthus: Planting and Growing (PB5421)

What is Miscanthus?

Miscanthus species are woody, perennial, rhizomatous grasses, originating from Asia which have the potential for very high rates of growth. Miscanthus may be familiar to many as a flowering garden ornamental, but it is the non-flowering forms that are of interest agriculturally.

Miscanthus is planted in spring and canes produced during the summer are harvested in winter. This growth pattern is repeated every year for the lifetime of the crop, which will be at least 15 years. Miscanthus differs from short rotation coppice willow (an alternative energy crop) in that it gives an annual harvest and thus an annual income to the farmer. Miscanthus spreads naturally by means of underground storage organs (rhizomes). However, their spread is slow and there will not be any uncontrolled invasion of hedges or fields.These rhizomes can be split and the pieces re-planted to produce new plants. All propagation, maintenance and harvest operations can be done with conventional farm machinery. In the UK, long-term average harvestable yields from a mature crop have exceeded 13 dry tonnes per hectare per year (t/ha/yr) at the most productive experimental sites. These high  yields suggest that the crop has the potential to make an important contribution to the UKs commitments to energy generation from renewable sources.

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