Spring emergence and canopy development strategies in miscanthus hybrids in Mediterranean, continental and maritime European climates

Elena Magenau*, John Clifton‐Brown, Catherine Parry, Chris Ashman, Danny Awty‐Carroll, Andrea Ferrarini, Mislav Kontek, Enrico Martani, Stefano Amaducci, Chris Davey, Oene Dolstra, Vanja Jurišić, Jason Kam, Luisa M. Trindade, Iris Lewandowski, Andreas Kiesel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)
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Due to its versatility and storability, biomass is an important resource for renewable materials and energy. Miscanthus hybrids combine high yield potential, low input demand, tolerance of certain marginal land types and several ecosystem benefits. To date, miscanthus breeding has focussed on increasing yield potential by maximising radiation interception through: (1) selection for early emergence, (2) increasing the growth rate to reach canopy closure as fast as possible, and (3) delayed flowering and senescence. The objective of this study is to compare early season re-growth in miscanthus hybrids cultivated across Europe. Determination of differences in early canopy development on end-of-year yield traits is required to provide information for breeding decisions to improve future crop performance. For this purpose, a trial was planted with four miscanthus hybrids (two novel seed-based hybrids M. sinensis × sinensis [M sin × sin] and M. sacchariflorus × sinensis [M sac × sin], a novel rhizome-based M sac × sin and a standard Miscanthus × giganteus [M × g] clone) in the UK, Germany, Croatia and Italy, and was monitored in the third and fourth growing season. We determined differences between the hybrids in base temperature, frost sensitivity and emergence strategy. M × g and M sac × sin mainly emerged from belowground plant organs, producing fewer but thicker shoots at the beginning of the growing season but these shoots were susceptible to air frosts (determined by recording 0°C 2 m above ground surface). By contrast, M sin × sin emerged 10 days earlier, avoiding damage by late spring frosts and producing a high number of thinner shoots from aboveground shoots. Therefore, we recommend cultivating M sac × sin at locations with low risk and M sin × sin at locations with higher risk of late spring frosts. Selecting miscanthus hybrids that produce shoots throughout the vegetation period is an effective strategy to limit the risk of late frost damage and avoid reduction in yield from a shortened growing season.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-574
Number of pages16
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Issue number5
Early online date24 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2023


  • base temperature
  • late spring frost
  • miscanthus
  • number of shoots
  • perennial rhizomatous grass
  • shoot sprouting
  • thermal time


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