Switchgrass, Big Bluestem, and Indiangrass Monocultures and Their Two- and Three-Way Mixtures for Bioenergy in the Northern Great Plains

C. O. Hong, V. N. Owens, DoKyoung Lee, A. Boe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High yielding, native warm-season grasses could be used as renewable bioenergy feedstocks. The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of warm season grass monocultures and mixtures on yield and chemical characteristics of harvested biomass and to evaluate the effect of initial seeding mixture on botanical composition over time. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), indiangrass [Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash], and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman) were planted as monocultures and in all possible two- and three-way mixtures at three USA locations (Brookings and Pierre, SD and Morris, MN) during May 2002. Biomass at each location was harvested after a killing frost once annually from 2003 to 2005. Total biomass yield significantly increased with year at all locations. Switchgrass monocultures or mixtures containing switchgrass generally out-yielded big bluestem or indiangrass in monocultures or the binary mixture. Cellulose and hemicellulose concentrations were higher in 2004 and 2005 compared with 2003. Switchgrass or mixtures containing switchgrass tended to have less cellulose than either big bluestem or indiangrass. Results were more variable for total N, lignin, and ash. Switchgrass was the dominant component of all mixtures in which it was present while big bluestem was dominant when mixed with indiangrass. Indiangrass was maintained only in monocultures and declined over years when grown in mixtures at all locations. Our results indicated if biomass yield in the northern Great Plains is a primary objective, switchgrass should be a component of binary or tertiary mixtures that also contain big bluestem and/or indiangrass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-239
Number of pages11
JournalBioenergy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Bioenergy
  • Biomass
  • Monocultures
  • Warm-season grasses
  • Warm-season mixtures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Energy (miscellaneous)


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