Perennial crops have fewer environmental impacts compared to annual crops, but there are no perennial grains available to replace the annual grains that occupy a majority of U.S. cropland. Here we report grain and biomass yields from an improved breeding population of intermediate wheatgrass (IWG) [Th i-nopyrum intermedium (Host) Buckworth & Dewey], a perennial grass being domesticated to serve as the first widely grown perennial grain crop. Our objective was to measure grain and biomass yields of this improved grain-type IWG (TLI-C2), a forage variety of IWG (cultivar Rush), and switchgrass (Pani-cum virgatum L.) in response to N fertilization rates ranging from 0 to 200 kg N ha–1. TLI-C2 grain yields responded qua-dratically to increasing N rates in all but one environment, but yields declined at high N rates due to lodging. TLI-C2 grain yields were highest during the first year of fertilization, yielding 961 and 893 kg ha–1 when fertilized at agronomically optimum nitrogen rates (AONRs) of 61 and 96 kg N ha–1 for stands seeded in fall of 2011 and spring of 2012, respectively. Grain yields declined with stand age. When fertilized with AONRs for grain, biomass yields of TLI-C2 harvested after grain ranged from 9.2 to 12.3 Mg ha–1 and had similar forage and bioenergy quality characteristics compared to Rush, which demonstrates the potential to manage TLI-C2 as a dual-use cropping system for both grain and forage.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was funded by a grant from the Institute for Renewable Energy and the Environment, University of Minnesota (RL-0015-12). J. Jungers was supported by a grant from the Perennial Agriculture Project. L. DeHaan was supported by the Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems program. We thank J. Larson, B. Heim, D. Vellekson, and D. Swanson for their help with fieldwork and data management.
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