Chapter 17: Switchgrass
Published:16 Dec 2010
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a warm-season grass that is native to the prairies of North America that is being developed into a biomass energy crop. It has been used in the Great Plains and Midwest USA as a forage and pasture grass for over 50 years and since the early 1990s research has been conducted on it for bioenergy because of several principal attributes. Switchgrass can be grown on marginal land that is not suitable for intensive cultivation on which it can produce high biomass yields with good management. It is a long lived perennial that has low establishment and production costs and it can harvested and handled with conventional forage equipment. There is substantial potential for genetic improvement of switchgrass for biomass energy production by increasing biomass yield and altering cell wall composition to increase liquid energy yields in biorefineries.