U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



Crop Sci. 35:125-132


U.S. government work


Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is used as a forage species and has shown potential for use in production of fuel ethanol from cellulosic biomass. Objectives of this research were to determine performance differences between elite switchgrass populations for agronomic, forage quality, and biofuel traits and to determine the magnitude of genotype × environment (G × E) interactions for these traits across midwestern environments.Twenty elite switchgrass populations, consisting of cultivars and advanced breeding populations, were planted in sward trials at Mead, NE, Ames, IA, and West Lafayette, IN, during 1990 and were evaluated in 1991 and 1992. Forage samples were taken at a vegetative growth stage, at heading, and at the end of the season. Plots were harvested for forage yield at heading and at the end of the growing season. Forage composition and in vitro dry matter digestibility was determined using near infrared reflectance spectroscopy. Significant differences (P < 0.05) between populations for forage yield were found at individual locations but not across locations, except at the P = 0.10 probability level, because of G × E interactions. Genotype × environment interactions were significant for hemicellulose plus cellulose (holocellulose) yield, a potentially important biofuel trait. In vitro dry matter digestibility was more stable than both forage yield and holocellulose yield. Despite large G × E interaction effects, a few populations consistently ranked high in forage yield and holocellulose yield. Multiple location, multiple year sward trials will be needed to develop switchgrasses broadly adapted to the midwest.