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Blog Post – February 2014

Things were very hectic through January and into February. I do not think I really realised at the time we purchased the Taharoa C Block Incorporation Miscanthus assets, just how much work this would involve. Whereas we had previously been focusing on the production of plantlets with the aim of getting into rhizomes eventually, plus a multitude of end uses for the product once it was grown, we now suddenly you are in a position where we had become a Miscanthus grower with over 9 ha well into production. In addition, we now owned a moderately substantial tonnage of harvested and baled Miscanthus for which we had to find a profitable home.

Miscanthus New Zealand Ltd Miscanthus stand in February 2014

At the time of purchasing these assets, I had based the pricing (mostly) on known returns so the challenge of course was to see whether these prices could be improved upon. We discovered that there were stumbling blocks, mostly put up by the former advisors to Taharoa – stumbling blocks that did not seem to us to have any positive purpose for anyone whatsoever and seemed to be based on a more “dog in the manger” attitude.

However I have been lucky to have very able assistance from a long term colleague who has been working extremely actively for Miscanthus New Zealand Limited and has been using his ability to relate well to people, combined with his extensive network through rural New Zealand, to get things done. In addition, Lincoln University’s Dr Steve Wratten has been a major support to the development and use of Miscanthus and he has provided a completely independent – and positive – viewpoint on the value of use of Miscanthus on farms.

Miscanthus in summer – 22 January – not to full height

The research reports that are included on this website under the Lincoln Research Project are produced under his direction by a Ph.D. student, Chris Littlejohn. They have been both learning a lot and teaching us a lot over the past year.

And lastly, in conjunction with Lincoln University, Miscanthus New Zealand Limited has been asked by a major New Zealand company to put on the proposal to look at undertaking some significant research into production and use of Miscanthus in an industrial setting. At the time that this chat was due to be published, there was a lot of discussion going on about how this would best be done, how much time it would take to do it, and what the cost would be. There will be no decisions on this until about June, but once these decisions are made, then to the extent that it is not confidential, I will alert readers to developments.