Miscanthus giganteus
Terravesta ‘Athena’ variety

General info

Miscanthus is a C4 rhizomatous perennial monoecious grass, which produces woody stems and originates natively from the southeast of Asia. It was originally imported into Europe as an ornamental plant largely M. sinensis but the hybrid M. giganteus’s rapid and sizable annual growth makes it an interesting energy crop consideration. The Terravesta commercial Athena variety further shows improved growth rates over the standard M. giganteus levels observed.

Cultivation and agronomy

Miscanthus is suitable to grow on less productive marginal lands and flourishes in most soil types. The sterile hybrid, largely utilised commercially, is produced via asexual rhizome propagation, this makes the crop relatively uniform, helping with maintenance and harvesting.

It can be harvested annually from the second year onwards, producing 4 – 13 tonnes per hectare per year in the second year, up to 10–13 in the third year, with peak harvests of up to 10-14 tonnes per hectare being seen in some studies with commercial varieties.

Stands of miscanthus remain feasible for harvest for between 10 – 25 years. Higher yield values above are associated with commercial strains such as Athena by Terravesta in the UK whilst traditional M. giganteus strains achieve closer to 4 – 8 tonnes per hectare (relative to year of cut etc).

Similar to other rhizome species, it requires considerable soil restoration to reutilise the land for other planting aspects to ensure all rhizome is removed and destroyed to prevent re-establishment.

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Relevant research

Clifton‐Brown, J., Harfouche, A., Casler, M. D., Dylan Jones, H., Macalpine, W. J., Murphy‐Bokern, D., … & Lewandowski, I. (2019).

Breeding progress and preparedness for mass‐scale deployment of perennial lignocellulosic biomass crops switchgrass, miscanthus, willow and poplar. Gcb Bioenergy, 11(1), 118-151.