Switchgrass Trials

In the springs of 2007, 2008, and 2009 we planted plots of Switchgrass on the Calaboga Road in Hammond NY with the goal of learning how to successfully establish Switchgrass, in anticipation of demand that is expected to come for its use as a feedstock for Cellulosic Ethanol and Biofuels.  The soil type mainly clay and is shallow, and typically is best for growing Timothy, Brome grass, and also Reed Canary Grass.  This Siwtchgrass stand covers 1/2 acre. 


Plot A - Planted in June 2007
 

Date Activity/Observation
04/2007: Plowed ~1/8 acre
05/2007: Pulverized several times and then let the plot green up
06/2007: Early in June, sprayed roundup twice using hand pump sprayer
06/2007: Mid June, pulverized several more times since plowing of clay was done in the same growing season. Planted seed with handheld broadcast spreader. Also fertilized by hand and dragged a board over the plot after planting to help cover the seed.
07/2007: Observed that weeds and grass overtook the plot
Overall 2007:   Few Switchgrass plants were found (less than 5% of the plot). Same season plowing of clay is believed to have lead to the recurrence of native grasses overtaking any Switchgrass establishment. 

05/28/2008: Plot covered in native grass and some weeds. Some Switchgrass plants were found to be present.
07/26/2008: Mowed plot with sickle bar, then used spring teeth to rake cut weeds off - not sure if any Switchgrass is still present
10/11/2008: Observed very little Switchgrass present 

05/10/2009: Observed all field grass growing
05/10/2009: Sprayed plots A2 and B1 with roundup using tow behind tank sprayer using 6 gallons of water and 32 oz of Roundup concentrate. This covered the plot once at 1/4 to 1/2 speed of the lawn tractor
05/25/2009: Collected two soil samples.  Plot A2 that was sprayed on 5/10/2009 is all brown
05/29/2009: Tested soil for A1 and A2 - PH is 7.0
6/20/2009: Observed grass growing on A2 that looks non-native - may be Switchgrass
06/28/2009: Still one type of grass growing in A2 - may be non-native. A1 is all field grass with a little Switchgrass growing
08/16/2009: Plot A1 is 50/50 - native grass and Switchgrass. Plot A2 is nearly 100% Switchgrass - about 5 feet high
08/31/2009: Recorded pictures shown below of A1 and A2
Fall 2009: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower 

06/27/2010: Mowed field hay around border of entire plot
07/05/2010: A1 is 90% Switchgrass, 10% native grass.  A2 is 99% Switchgrass, 1% native grass
08/29/2010: A1 is nearly 100 % Switchgrass.  A2 is nearly 100 % Switchgrass
10/09/2010: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower
10/11/2011: A1is ~100% Switchgrass. A2 is ~100% Switchgrass
Fall 2011: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower

08/17/2012: A1is ~100% Switchgrass, even with the lack of rain in July 2012.  A2 is ~100% Switchgrass, even with the lack of rain in July 2012
10/15/2012: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower 

09/08/2013: A1  and A2 are 100% Switchgrass
10/05/2013: Switchgrass has noticeably spread into adjacent corn patch
11/09/2013: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower 

11/16/2014: Plot A is virtually 100% Switchgrass.  Will leave standing until Spring and will harvest then for use in briquettes.  Leaving standing over the winter is said to facilitate leeching out of corrosive elements.
10/20/2015: Plot A still virtually 100% Switchgrass.  Switchgrass is spreading into adjacent corn plot.  Mowed with rotary mower and manually fed some through chopper for upcoming Cellulosic Ethanol experiments.

9/11/2016: Plot A still virtually 100% Switchgrass.  Switchgrass is spreading into adjacent corn plot.  


Plot B - Planted in June 2008

11/2007: Plowed  ~1/8th acre sized plot adjacent to Plot A 

05/2008: Pulverized five times then let green up. Fall plowing worked up much better. By 5/28/08, some native grass was up, but not nearly as much as on Plot A after its first pulverizing. 05/28/08: Sprayed roundup using tow behind tank sprayer using 6.5 gallons of water and 32 oz of Roundup concentrate. This covered the plot once at 1/2 speed of the lawn tractor and then also allowed for 2nd spraying of heavy grass spots. 

05/29/08: Wilting of native grass observed. 

06/08/08: Native grass was all brown.  

06/08/08: Pulverized plot two times 

06/15/08: No native grass was present 

- pulverized 3 times - spread 50 lbs of 0-20-20 fertilizer with tow behind spreader

- pulverized 1 more time - spread Sunburst Switchgrass seed by hand throwing - packed soil by driving lawn mower over plot 

07/05/08: Plot mainly bare. Some grass started - not sure what it is. Also had some broadleaf weeds taking over one end (maybe 15% of the plot). 

07/26/08: South end of plot overtaken by Ragweed - waist high -mowed plot with sickle bar, then used spring teeth to rake cut weeds off, then mowed high with riding lawn mover 

08/02/08: 50-60% of the plot growing grass - not sure if it's all Switchgrass or native grass or mixture of both.  

08/16/08: Some sort of grass is growing good - stalk part of much of the grass looks similar to Switchgrass observed on Tom Lee farm in Madrid on 08/12/08. Some sort of broadleaf weed recurring in same area observed on 

07/05/08. May attempt to spot spray with Roundup. 

10/11/08: Some Switchgrass present - not 100% sure of everything present, but two grasses not native to the land are growing. 

Overall 2008: More actual Switchgrass "clumps" observed as compared to year 1 for Plot A. Previous fall plowing lead to far less native grasses returning, however  Ragweed was strong. On north end, no grass or plant of any noticeable consideration grew. 

05/10/2009: Observed very little field grass growing - looked like some broadleaf weeds starting

05/10/2009: Sprayed plots A2 and B1 with roundup using tow behind tank sprayer using 6 gallons of water and 32 oz of Roundup concentrate. This covered the plot once at 1/4 to 1/2 speed of the lawn tractor 

05/25/2009: Collected two soil samples.  Plot B1 that was sprayed on 5/10/2009 is all brown

05/29/2009: Tested soil for B1 and B2 - PH is 7.0 

06/28/2009: Observed no grass growing on B1 - only broad leaf weeds starting. B2 has grass growing - some is Switchgrass 

08/16/2009: Plot B1 is mostly ragweed and another type of grass (foxtail???).  Plot B2 is 50/50 - native grass and Switchgrass 

08/31/2009: Recorded pictures shown below of B1 and B2 

Fall 2009: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower 

06/27/2010: Mowed field hay around border of entire plot 

07/05/2010: B1 is 60% Switchgrass, 40% native grass.  B2 is 80% Switchgrass, 20% native grass 

08/29/2010: B1 is nearly 100 % Switchgrass.  B2 is nearly 100 % Switchgrass  

10/09/2010: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower 

10/11/2011: B1 is ~100% Switchgrass.  B2 is ~100% Switchgrass 

Fall 2011: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower 

08/17/2012: B1 is ~100% Switchgrass, even with the lack of rain in July 2012.  B2 is ~100% Switchgrass, even with the lack of rain in July 2012 

10/15/2012: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower 

09/08/2013: B1  and B2 are 99% switchgrass - a few weeds are present 

10/05/2013: Some of B1 has Switchgrasss has spread into adjacent corn patch 

11/09/2013: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower 

11/16/2014:  Plot B is virtually 100% Switchgrass.  Will leave standing until Spring and will harvest then for use in briquettes.  Leaving standing over the winter is said to facilitate leeching out of corrosive elements. 

10/20/2015: Plot B is 90% Switchgrass - some milk weed is present.  Switchgrass is spreading into adjacent corn plot.  Mowed with rotary mower and manually fed  some through chopper for upcoming Cellulosic Ethanol experiments 

9/11/2016: Plot B is 80% Switchgrass - some milk weed is present.  Switchgrass is spreading into adjacent corn plot.         

Plot C - Planted in Spring 2009

10/11/2008: Sprayed roundup (~6 gallons of water and ~20-32 oz Roundup concentrate) on approximately 1/8th acre for 2009 plot - part of this overlapped with plot B on the end where not much of anything grew
11/30/2008: Plowed plot
05/10/2009: Observed no field grass growing
05/25/2009: Collected two soil samples

- observed no field grass growing
- pulverized 5 times - 3 long and 2 cross
05/29/2009: Tested soil for C1 and C2 - PH is 7.0
6/20/2009: Observed broadleaf weeds starting on 25% of plot C1. Sprayed Plots C1 and C2 with 5 gallons of water and ~32oz of Roundup
06/28/2009:Broadleaf weeds on C1 are observed as brown.
- Pulverized plot three times.
- Spread 4lbs of Sunburst Switchgrass seed by hand throwing
- Spread 5-10 lbs of 0-20-20 fertilizer with tow behind spreader
- Packed soil by driving lawn mower and planker over plot - twice lengthwise and once crosswise - entire plot seemed packed by tires - better than on previous two plots
08/16/2009: Plot C1 is all ragweed.  Plot C2 is 60/40 - native grass and Switchgrass
08/16/2009: Mowed C1 and C2 high (approx 6"-12") with brush hog. Mowing revealed significantly more grass of some sort growing under the ragweed - this grass is presumed to be Switchgrass
08/31/2009: Recorded pictures shown below of C1 and C2
Fall 2009: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower 

06/27/2010: Mowed field hay around border of entire plot
07/05/2010: C1 has virtually nothing growing but weeds and maybe 10% Switchgrass - presuming seeding issue.  C2 is 60% Switchgrass, 40% native grass
08/29/2010: C1 at most is 20% Switchgrass.  C2 is approximately 35% Switchgrass
10/09/2010: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower

10/11/2011: C1 at most is 40% Switchgrass, 30% weeds, 30% bare.  C2 is approximately 75% Switchgrass
Fall 2011: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower
08/17/2012: C1 is approximately 75% Switchgrass, 25% weeds/native grass.  C2 is approximately 80% Switchgrass
10/15/2012: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower 

09/08/2013: C1 and C2 are 80% switchgrass - milkweed and goldenrod are present
11/09/2013: Mowed entire plot with rotary mower 

11/16/2014: Plot C1 is mainly Switchgrass.  Plot C2 look weak and has other native grass & weeds mixed in.  

10/20/2015: Plot C is 50% Switchgrass - some milk weed and other grass is present

09/11/2016: Plot C is less than 50% Switchgrass - milk weed and other native grasses are present