The first signs of re-growth started to appear at the beginning of September. Stems that senesced over the winter remained soft and did not stiffen to produce harder stems, as had been expected. This may be a feature of first season’s growth or may have been a consequence of the relatively mild winter resulting in a slower rate of nutrient transfer. M. x gianteus (Mxg) is not harvested in its first season but when considering future harvest date research (Lewandowski and Heinz 2003) shows energy yield is reduced the later the harvest date, due to nutrient content decreasing as nutrients are translocated to the rhizome.
An American colleague of mine who is involved in Miscanthus research and teaching said to me some time back that development of a Miscanthus industry is a business that takes quite some time to get going. For somebody as impatient as I am, it was frustrating to hear that, but she is quite right. So
You would really think that because it is the time of year when things are not growing, this would be the quiet time of year in the Miscanthus business. But it is in fact the time of year when we are trying to get people to firm up on their decisions about how many plants
June is the month that I always associate with cold damp weather which is characteristic of the National Fieldays. This year, my annual pilgrimage to the Fieldays found that although it was quite cold it was not damp and in terms of weather was quite a pleasant day. It was also different in that I
Miscanthus plants are now starting to senesce and pass nutrients to their rhizome (Fig. 1). First year-yields are not worth harvesting and so the remaining woody stems will stay in place until new growth commences next spring. Miscanthus planted in the irrigated paddocks of Aylesbury Farm achieved a maximum height of 1.5 m which is impressive considering the late planting and initial lack of irrigation. This growth was achieved from initially water-stressed plants in just four months. Expected height from growth over seven months was 1 m.
Interest in Miscanthus is growing rapidly and Miscanthus New Zealand (MNZ) has had a number of enquiries from people wanting to order small quantities to establish tiny trial areas of Miscanthus on their properties. These will all be interesting but MNZ is conscious of the fact that they give little information on the possibilities for
The past month has finally seen the end of the drought and although it has been very hard on many people in the rural sector, it has given us some very useful information on how Miscanthus handles drought. We were lucky enough in Hawkes Bay to have Miscanthus growing on two sites – one with
Growth of irrigated plants has continued to be impressive at Aylesbury farm with some now over 1.5 m tall. Karetu farm received its first significant rainfall since February 6 on March 19 with 26 – 30 mm of rain over two days. This resulted in what were apparently dead MxG plants sprouting new shoots, indicating the robustness of this plant. Recent rainfall in early April brought about further new vigorous growth as illustrated by fig.3. In comparison the Poplar trees next to the MxG plantings, Fig.2, shed their leaves long ago and may not have survived.
The past month has been characterised mainly by the severity of the drought that has affected most parts of the North Island and some of the South Island. We have Miscanthus growing in enough different places to begin to get a good picture of how well it handles drought. I find the results somewhat surprising
The plants in the adjacent corner which receive a regular water supply from the centre pivot, as shown in fig. 2, are thriving and many of these are now a metre tall. It will be interesting to see how all MxG plants in this paddock develop and whether the drought-affected plants ever achieve a worthwhile dry matter yield over the next two seasons.