MISCANTHUS - MARKET TAKING OFF
New and expanded uses for Miscanthus are appearing, and new sites are being planted.
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.
This is the inaugural issue of what will be a monthly update of activity in the world of Miscanthus New Zealand Limited. Our first two and a half years have been very busy as we move from having 34 plants that we imported in tissue culture, to supplying several hundred thousand plants to landowners who
This month has seen a continuation of last month’s dry and hot weather causing very dry conditions. This is being reflected in the occurrence of two severe bush fires near two of the farms where Miscanthus giganteus (MxG) has been planted. Fortunately at Aylesbury farm where all MxG plantings are irrigated this hot weather has produced ideal growing conditions.
There are now three dairy farms planted with Miscanthus giganteus (MxG) with a total of 10 paddocks being used to firstly investigate the growth potential of the plant itself and also to monitor its effectiveness in providing ecosystem services to dairy farms. There may also be potential to plant further paddocks next season.