Brief Newsletter on Miscanthus – Elephant Grass – Chinese Reed

Use of Miscanthus

Also known as Chinese reed or Chinese grass, or elephant grass, Miscanthus (sinensis) giganteus, a fast-growing hybrid offers, due to its strong growth at minimal inputs and small nutrients drainage (C4 plants), ideal conditions for being used as a highly valuable renewable raw material, for example, in automotive or construction industries. Besides, due to its enormous area outputs, miscanthus is a practical substitute for wood or heating oil (1 ha substitutes about 4,000 – 9,000 liters of extra light heating oil!)

Miscanthus Rhizome

Miscanthus Rhizomes

Miscanthus Cultivation

  • Planting period: April through May
  • Recommended to cultivate with a re-designed potato planter (dropping shaft of 15–20 cm!); very small areas can also be processed manually
  • Rhizomes should be set to the depth of 4 cm (for light soils) to 8 cm (for heavy soils) and then gut stamp down/firm well
  • 1 x 1 m planting interval
  • Well-penetratable and water-bearing croplands, ideally corn/maize fields
  • Average annual temperature +7 degrees or higher and at least 600 mm of precipitation in a good distribution during vegetation period
  • Sandy soil, retained humidity and long-term summer draught reduce revenues

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Video: Miscanthus Planting

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Elefantengras-Wurzel nach ca 5 Wochen, ungenuegende Unkrautbekaempfung!

An elephant grass root upon about 5 weeks, insufficient weeding control!

Plant Protection with Miscanthus

  • If it is possible, during the 1st planting year, to be free of weeds (important!)
  • Multiple mechanical weed control methods, such as hoeing or raking, are efficient; chemical processing with corn media (in Austria, Callisto or Harmony are allowed)

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Fertilization of Chinese Reeds

  • Minimal needs of fertilizers, also possible completely without fertilizing!
  • No fertilization in the year of planting!
  • Ash recirculation is possible and reasonable
  • Liquid manure and dung in small amounts only

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Miscanthus Harvesting

  • Using maize chopper (row-less Kemper head) or bailing press from January till late April
  • Yearly growth will always be harvested the year following freezing or drying
  • Water content should be below 20%, ideally 8-15 %
  • Chop length 2-3 cm
  • Cross-sectional length 10-15 cm
  • Area performance: 1 h/ha provided the area form is optimal
  • Grubbing: upon 20-25/30 years of use, burying or, in some cases, additional grubbing/milling, seeding the field, repeated mowing, or high-nutrient subsequent crops, such as mustard.

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Miscanthus Hackgut

Chopped Miscanthus

Elephant Grass Revenues

  • 10-25 tons/ha of dried matter (= oven dry tons) as the average area performance over the full-crop period of about 20-25 years on well water-bearing, humous brown soils.
  • No crop after the 1st year (height of 0.75-1.5 m)
  • The first partial (about 30%) crop after the 2nd year (height of 1.5-2.5 m)
  • The first full harvest after the 3rd year (height of 3-4 m)

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Miscanthus Costs

  • Depending on field size and own performance, including soil preparation, qualitatively valuable miscanthus rhizomes and planting €2,000 – 2,500

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Buy energy plants online at a reasonable price

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  • If it is possible, during the 1st planting year, to be free of weeds (important!)

Multiple mechanical weed control methods, such as hoeing or raking, are efficient; chemical processing with corn media (in Austria, Callisto or Harmony are allowed)