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Miscanthus has a fighting chance against weeds
Date:1/10/2011

University of Illinois research reports that several herbicides used on corn also have good selectivity to Miscanthus x giganteus (Giant Miscanthus), a potential bioenergy feedstock.

"No herbicides are currently labeled for use in Giant Miscanthus grown for biomass," said Eric Anderson, an instructor of bioenergy for the Center of Advanced BioEnergy Research at the University of Illinois. "Our research shows that several herbicides used on corn are also safe on this rhizomatous grass."

M. x giganteus is sterile and predominantly grown by vegetative propagation, or planting rhizomes instead of seed. This can be a very costly investment and requires a 1- to 2-year establishment period. Anderson's research showed that Giant Miscanthus does not compete well with weeds during establishment, especially early emerging weeds.

"There's a great cost in establishing Giant Miscanthus," Anderson said. "It's important to protect this investment, especially if it goes commercial. When weeds outcompete Giant Miscanthus, the result is stunted growth and lack of tillering. Basically, you are risking the crop's ability to overwinter."

The study, funded by the Ingersoll Fellowship, the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research and the Energy Biosciences Institute, screened 16 post-herbicides and 6 pre-herbicides in a greenhouse setting. Several herbicides, particularly those with significant activity on grass species, caused plant injury ranging from 6 to 71 percent and/or reduced M. x giganteus dry mass by 33 to 78 percent.

Researchers then narrowed these herbicides down to the safest options and evaluated them in field trials replicated over two years. Field experiments confirmed the greenhouse experiments. Pre-emergence herbicides and herbicides with broadleaf-specific activity generally did not produce significant injury or reduce aboveground biomass while herbicides with considerable grass activi
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Contact: Jennifer Shike
jshike@illinois.edu
217-244-0888
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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