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Top tips for boosting miscanthus yields

Posted in: by Alex Robinson on 20 October 2016

Some miscanthus crops are thinner than they could be, or contain small gaps, meaning yields are compromised. This is usually down to how it's been planted, but also down to factors like soil compaction.

The good news is that there is a way to remedy this...and while we can only offer guidance, here are a few top tips for remedial action for next spring...

Once the miscanthus has been cut, baled and stored, look to use the more settled conditions to turn your attention to getting the best from the next year's crop. The four to six weeks following harvest provides you with the perfect opportunity to carry out any corrective action that may be required.

Remedial work falls into three main groups. They are:

1) Soil testing

2) Weed control

3) Compaction and remedial work

Soil testing 

We would recommend that this is routinely carried out every four years. This can be done inexpensively at approximately £10 per sample and your agronomist/fertiliser supplier will normally do this for you (if you don't know of a lab, Terravesta can give you details of some).

Best practice is to sample good areas as well as less favourable areas and collect a spectrum of varying soil types within the same field, naming them so you can identify them in future years. The number of samples required per field will depend on the difference in crop performance and soil type.

The soil test results will enable you to see if there are any nutrient deficiencies in the soil that need resolving. At best, a good result will exclude the need for costly fertilisers and allow you to eliminate nutrition as a cause of any problems - it could also highlight nutrition as part of the cause of a problem. If you would like any assistance to interpret your results, please email us: agronomy@terravesta.com

Weed control 

Post-harvest is the time to evaluate whether any additional weed control is needed. Time is of the essence because there is a short window to get a non-selective herbicide on before the new miscanthus shoots emerge and open up to expose new leaf growth. The pictures below illustrate when it's OK to spray and when it's not advisable to spray.

Compaction and remedial work 

In older, well-established crops, we're seeing compaction beginning to limit crop productivity. Compaction may be caused by cutting and baling in wet conditions or where bales may have been stacked on the field, or even as a result of repetitive turning/traffic due to awkward field shapes. The only way to alleviate this is by sub-soiling, if the soil conditions allow.

Crops that are thin or have small gaps can be thickened by sub-soiling and ground cultivation in order to spread the rhizomes into the empty spaces. If you feel that this is something you may wish to consider, please contact Terravesta for advice on the most appropriate methods for your soil type.

Where you have large gaps, sub-soiling and thickening will not be enough to fill these and it could be worth considering infill replanting. Once again it may be worth booking a visit by contacting us to assess the issued and soil type you have.

The two images below illustrate how fields can be vastly improved by remedial work.

The first crop has reached the height 1.8 metres and the second crop, in the adjacent field has reached 2.9 metres after being disced two years ago:

 

For more advice on miscanthus planting, agronomy or remedial advice, please get in touch with the Terravesta team: 01522 731873 agronomy@terravesta.com

 

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