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


Document Type


Date of this Version



Agronomy Journal. 89:262-269


U.S. government work


Phenotypic selection has been used to improve forage yield and in vitro dry matter disappearance (IVDMD), but the effects on canopy architecture and morphology are not understood. Our objectives were to determine if canopy architecture and morphology can explain genotype x environment (G x E) yield differences in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) and to evaluate canopy architecture and morphology as selection criteria for increasing yield. This study was conducted in 1993 near Mead, NE, and near Ames, IA. The experimental design was a randomized complete block experiment with a split-plot arrangement of four replicates at each location. Whole plots were tiller population and subplots were sward maturity. Tiller populations were harvested on 9 June, 19 July, and 27 August at Ames and on 10 June, 27 July, and 26 August at Mead and were classified morphologically. Tillers were separated into primary yield components and dried at 55°C to determine total forage yield and dry matter contribution of morphological components. Genotype x environment interactions occurred for total forage yield and tiller density. Previous phenotypic selection for increased forage yield and IVDMD apparently altered morphological changes within the canopy of selected switchgrass populations. The most apparent changes were development of additional collared leaves and internodes in some populations across locations. Although canopy architecture may not be a useful selection criterion because of variability associated with individual canopy traits, indirect measurements showed that leaf area index (LAI) has some potential as a selection criterion for increasing total forage yield. However, selection for individual canopy traits may be most effective for modifying sward growth habits.