Guidelines for Establishing Switchgrass


Establishment year

Soil fertility levels should be established by use of a soil test prior to field selection.
Fields with lower P& K levels are preferred.

Choose winter hardy varieties suited to the local region, i.e.(corn heat unit range)

C4 varieties are warm season species. They require 12 C deg. to start growing and are slow to establish.

Planting should be timed from mid May to mid June into warm soil.

Soil should be packed prior to and after planting

Seeding rate should be 8-10 lb./acre

Seed should be placed at a depth of ¼ - 3/8 inch into a firm seed bed.

Seeding may be performed by using conventional drills, no-till or broadcasting. Brillion type seeders are preferred.

The grasses will tolerate low ph levels (5.5) with moderate levels of P & K.
No Nitrogen should be used at planting as this will promote weed growth.

Weeds should be controlled pre emerge, either with a herbicide burn-down or tillage.(see Weed Control in Switchgrass)

Post emergent weed control may be accomplished using OMAFRA recommendations. Contact us for further details (Weed Control in Switchgrass).

Clipping, at 1-2 inches above the growing switchgrass may be undertaken twice in the establishment year for weed control, timed at 4 to 6 weeks after planting and again before the weeds have grown sufficiently and prior to producing seed.
Switchgrass should not be mowed in the establishment year


Year 2


40 lbs./acre of N should be applied in July.

One early clipping above the growing switchgrass may be performed early in the season for weed control.

Cutting will be done in the late fall, after full dormancy has been reached, leaving a minimum of  4 inches of stubble.

Year 3 and subsequent years

Baling of the previous years crop in April or May as crop and soil conditions allow.

Apply 50 to 60 lbs. /acre Nitrogen when the switchgrass has reached 4 inches of height (early July).

Cut crop in late fall after Switchgrass has reached dormancy, leaving minimum 4 inches stubble.

(Above information has been gathered from seminars held by REAP Canada, www.reap-canada.com  and grower experiences.)

This information is provided as a guideline only. Please consult further for specific recommendations.





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