With miscanthus there's a strong correlation between good planning and a healthy, high yielding crop.
The best crops start life in the planning stage the year before planting, and the worst crops are the ones decided upon at the last minute, and these invariably go into less than adequate seed beds.
The difference between the best and worst crops can be as much as double the yield, each year and every year thereafter.
With more growers coming on board with us because of heightened demand for the crop, we're keen to make sure you get the best outputs from your miscanthus - and the key to this is preparation.
Miscanthus is a hardy perennial, and is harvested annually after the second year of establishment, for 20 years or more. There's one chance to plant it - so it's important to get it right.
Our top tips for early planning are important to implement now...
Make the decision to grow miscanthus and commit to it. Be bold and don't sit on the fence, letting another crop take precedence. If you leave it to the last minute, your crop yields might be compromised.
2) Soil preparation
Miscanthus is an ideal crop for difficult to farm, marginal land. And, even though it thrives on almost any soil type, it's crucial to prepare the soil well.
Heavier clay soil needs to be ploughed now to achieve a nice tilth in the spring, with the aid of a winter frost that will help the soil break down further, leaving it finer.
If heavy or light land needs subsoiling, the operation will be far more successful if done in the autumn when the soil is dry.
3) Weed control
Light sandy and gravelly soils can throw up a lot of perennial weeds and volunteers. If you plan now, you'll be able to apply a few applications of Roundup in good conditions with better results.
Weed control in the establishment phase of miscanthus is essential because poor control can hamper the successful development of the crop. It's vital that fields should be cleared of perennial weeds before any planting takes place.
It's also important to remember that miscanthus requires minimal herbicide inputs once established, as it suppresses annual weeds that may have previously been common in the field, including blackgrass.
4) Inputs and soil sampling
If you decide to grow miscanthus, there's no need to be ordering seed and fertiliser as you would other crops, because there are minimal, and commonly no inputs.
If a soil sample is taken now, nine times out of ten, no additional nutrients such as phosphate or potash need ordering, and the crop doesn't require nitrogen applications. Miscanthus has little or no need for applied fertiliser, and this can be confirmed by a basic soil test.
5) Get it right the first time
Miscanthus, just like any other arable crop, will do better if cultural controls such as the seedbed and weed management are top notch.
The advantage of miscanthus is that you only plant ONCE, this can easily become a disadvantage if done poorly. There is no second chance, as with wheat, for example.
There's just the one chance to get it right, and this really isn't down to luck, it's down to good planning and proper preparation which must start now.
For more advice on miscanthus planting please get in touch with the Terravesta team: 01522 731873
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