Date of this Version
Late-spring and early-summer plantings of warm-season grasses often fail, due to dry soil conditions and competition from annual grass and broadleaf weeds. The objective of this study was to compare the morphological development of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) planted in early, mid, and late spring in eastern Nebraska. This study was conducted in 1994 and 1995 at Lincoln, NE, on a Kennebec silt loam (fine-silty, mixed, mesic Cumulic Hapludolls). 'Blackwell' and 'Trailblazer' switchgrass were planted in mid-March, late April, and late May using a single-row, precision grass-seed cone planter to a depth of 0.6 to 1.3 cm at 98 pure live seed per linear meter of row in a split-plot design. Twenty seedlings from each plot were excavated to a depth of 20 cm with a spade. Seedling morphological parameters measured were mean stage count root (MSCR) and shoot (MSCS), leaf area, shoot weight, and primary and adventitious root weight. Plots were sampled every 10 d following the first sample date. In 1994, seedlings from the March planting date were more advanced morphologically in MSCR and MSCS, had accumulated 2.5 times more leaf area, and about 3 times more shoot and adventitious root mass than the April planting date when sampled from late May to late June. In 1995, seedlings from the March planting date generally were more advanced morphologically in root and shoot development, had accumulated 2 to 12 times more leaf area, had 2 to 10 times more shoot mass, and had 2 to 33 times more adventitious root mass than the April or May planting dates at the sample periods from early June to mid-July. We suggest that switchgrass should be planted in early spring instead of in late April and May, as suggested by previous research.