2014 Update from Florida

The four test sites in Florida (Quincy, Balm-Tampa, Fort Pierce and Fort Lauderdale) saw significant losses in grasses from 2013-2014.  Spring survival in 2014 was very low at all test sites.   Winter 2014 survival based on the number of plants transplanted at each site in 2012 was: Quincy had 50% survival; Balm had 47% survival; Fort Pierce had 29% survival; and Fort Lauderdale had 4% survival.     It appears that as you moved south in the state of FL survival decreased.  The cultivars still growing in Quincy were ‘Cheyenne Sky’, ‘Cloud Nine’,  ‘Heavy Metal’, and ‘Prairie Fire’.  The cultivar ‘Cloud Nine’ also was growing well in Balm and Fort Pierce.  The only cultivar that was still actively growing well in Fort Lauderdale was ‘Shenandoah’.  Because of the significant losses in grass cultivars, it was decided to end the trials in FL

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Vermont trials 2014

Vermont continues to provide an extreme test site for these grasses on the cold end of the spectrum.  Last winter (2013-14) had a severe ice storm (1in. or more on surfaces), but ground temperatures remained fairly average.  This winter (2014-15) may prove a serious hardiness test, with 14 days in January soil temps. below 28F, and 6 at 25F or below– the coldest temperatures in 25 years of recording in this zone.  This past summer (2014) also was cooler than normal, with only 4 days 90F or above, the highest being 93F, and no days in August at 90F or above.  So while the Panicum grew more than the previous year, with several decent performers (Dewey Blue, Northwind, Prairie Sky, Shenandoah, Thundercloud), overall many still had quite a bit of variability and weak growth.  The bluestems were fairly uniform among a cultivar, but cultivars varied widely in vigor, only a couple being really acceptable, very uniform and typical (Blaze, Blue Heaven with this by far the best with excellent fall color).

NOGT-Vermont 2014 data

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Colorado State University Grass Trials Data, 2014

Here are the results from Colorado State University for the National Ornamental Grass Trials.

Colorado State University 2014 NOGT Data

CSU NOGT Sept.2014

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2014 Comparison of Ornamental Grasses at Longwood Gardens

Grass Trials LWG 2014 links to the data collected at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA as of September 2014.

Panicum virgatum 'Warrior'

Panicum virgatum ‘Warrior’

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Switchgrass Comparison in Minnesota

Here is a link to the Comparison Table of 17 Panicum as of August 14, 2014 in Minnesota.

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Earliest Flowers on Switchgrass

Here are the first flowers on switchgrass in 2014 in Minnesota:
July 15: Rotstrahlbusch; Rehbraun; Shenandoah; and Heavy Metal, shown below.
July 23: Cheyenne Sky; Prairie Fire; Dust Devil; Prairie Sky; Badlands and Hot Rod are all showing flowering tips. No anthesis on any Panicum yet in Minnesota. IMG_7374

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Seedlings in Switchgrass

Lots of seedlings coming in the grass trials this year. We used a pre-emergent herbicide, but it looks like our timing was late. Several cultivars seem to have heavy seed set. Look closely and you can see the seedlings just to the left of the larger plant. And you can
see seeds on the ground as well. Image

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Minnesota Update for Spring/Summer 2014

May 30 and suddenly summer! Well, finally after one of the worst winters in Minnesota. The Grass Trials, however, look good but are a bit slower than last year. No winter loss, and it looks like all are coming that were here last year.

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Oregon State University, Corvallis Oregon

Oregon State University site: Planted June 2012.  Planted with landscape fabric, mulched, and drip irrigated.  Pictures and establishment size data collected November 2012. Data in attachment.








Oregon State Data February 2013


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Texas Tech University

National Grass Trials
Texas Tech University
2013 Summary
submitted by C. McKenney

TT toughest city

The TTU trials had a difficult growing season this past year and Lubbock lived up to the title given by the Weather Channel of “Toughest Weather City in the United States.” The season started out quite well with the trials being trimmed back just before spring green-up. The species all overwintered for this first year and had begun to leaf out. Then in late March we had a haboob come through the region which effectively sand blasted the plants as they were leafing out.
TT dust storm 1TT dust storm2
TT floodingTT GH damage
Photo resource: bing.com/images/search? Photo resource: bing.com/images/search?
q=flooding+in+Lubbock+2013 q=hail+in+lubbock+tx+june+5+2013

Photo resource: files.archinect. Photo resource: bing.com/images/search?q=hail+
com/uploads/ai/aiu_water1.gif in+lubbock+tx+june+5+2013&qs=AS&sk+AS1& FORM=QBIR&pq=hail

In early June, Lubbock experienced more extreme weather. We had an 80 mph hail storm which broke the utility poles at the experimental farm and shattered over 400 panes of glass at the greenhouse complex. The impact of the high velocity hail severely beat down the grasses. The following rainstorm following the hail resulted in devastating crossland flooding which resulted in the
beds washing out to the point we were forced to rebuild and replant all of the plots adjacent to the grass trials.

Excess soil was removed from around the plant bases and the beds were reformed as best as possible. The smaller statured grasses suffered the greatest damage from the hail and flooding. The southern blocks of the trial sustained the most damage resulting in the loss of two blocks of the grass trials. Lower stature grasses were obliterated.

80 mph wind, hail and crossland flooding melted the rows and washed out plantings

80 mph wind, hail and crossland flooding melted the rows and washed out plantings

By the end of the growing season, only a limited number of species survived

By the end of the growing season, only a limited number of species survived

The average annual rainfall this portion of the South Plains is 18”; however, during 2013 rainfall was 10″ resulting in the third year in a row with below average rainfall requiring frequent supplemental irrigation. The experimental farm has an Amarillo fine sandy loam soil with a pH of 8.2. Less than 1”of precipitation occurred between October and this past February. Drought tolerance remains a key factor for success of these species and the growthier Panicums appeared to be the best at withstanding the weather extremes.

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