Yesterday, we heard from Jeff Wheeler with Reprieve Renewables, based in Greensboro, about growing giant Miscanthus for biofuel stock and other uses. Today, with Southern Farm Network’s Bob Midles Wheeler outlines what’s involved in growing the crop:
“The crop is planted in the spring and will grow to about 10-12 feet tall. Its very similar to corn. In October the crop starts to go into dormancy and triggers us to harvest it from November to February.
The marginal, unutilized ground is the land that we target. Ground that is challenging to get a return on, this is a crop that can do that year after year. It’s a very efficient crop, and there are very minimal inputs that go into the crop. Once its established the first year, the only real input from year to year is the fertilizer. That may not even be every year.
From an environment perspective, its very efficient in that you don’t have to replant or till the land which helps mitigate soil erosion and water run off.
As the crop grows it pushes the carbohydrates and fertilizes up into the crop. As it dries down in the fall, it pushes all those nutrients back into the roots which then builds the soil composition up. So that builds the soil up over time.
We have some crops here in NC that are three years old. This was our largest planting year in NC and we were excited to work with more growers so that others who are interested can see it first hand in their local community.”