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Advances in Agriculture
Volume 2014, Article ID 192824, 14 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/192824
Research Article

Impacts of Improved Switchgrass and Big Bluestem Selections on Yield, Morphological Characteristics, and Biomass Quality

1Department of Plant Science, McGill University, Macdonald Campus, 21111 Lakeshore Road, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC, Canada H9X 3V9
2REAP Canada, 21111 Lakeshore Road, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC, Canada H9X 3V9
3Department of Animal Science, McGill University, Macdonald Campus, 21111 Lakeshore Road, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC, Canada H9X 3V9
4MAPAQ, Direction Régionale de l’Estrie, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada J1N 2A5

Received 15 September 2014; Accepted 17 November 2014; Published 17 December 2014

Academic Editor: Qiquan Wang

Copyright © 2014 Erik Delaquis et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii V.) are promising warm-season grasses for biomass production. Understanding the morphological and quality-related traits of these grasses can guide breeders in developing strategies to improve yield and quality for bioindustrial applications. Elite selections were made in Southern Quebec from four promising varieties of switchgrass and one of big bluestem. Biomass yield, morphological characteristics, and selected quality traits were evaluated at two sites in 2011 and 2012. Significant variation was detected for all measured characteristics, with differences varying by site and year. In some cases the selection process modified characteristics including increasing height and reducing tiller mortality. Switchgrasses reached a similar tiller equilibrium density in both years of 690 m−2 and 379 m−2 at a productive and marginal site, respectively. Differences in yield were pronounced at the marginal site, with some advanced selections having a higher yield than their parent varieties. Switchgrass yields were generally greater than those of big bluestem. A delayed spring harvest date greatly reduced yield but reduced moisture content and slightly increased cellulose concentration. Big bluestem had a higher cellulose content than switchgrass, likely due to greater stem content.