Switchgrass: Growing Switchgrass as a Profitable Energy Crop

Switchgrass, a perennial warm season grass that is central to the North American tallgrass prairie, is commonly grown by farmers for foraging and livestock purposes. In the last few years, there has also been a growing interest in using switchgrass as an energy crop.

Researchers have begun to recognize the importance of switchgrass as a viable biomass crop for the production of ethanol, on top of its soil conservation and game cover qualities. From the usage of sawdust and woodchips for biofuel, research and initiatives are now looking to tap into cellulosic ethanol, specifically from switchgrass, because of its multi-purpose potential.

Corn-based ethanol, which is the traditional choice, only produces roughly the same amount of energy required to raise it, which makes it a costly energy crop especially when weather conditions and overall plant management are less than ideal. Compared with corn, the energy that switchgrass is able to produce is significantly more relative to the energy needed to produce it.

For every acre of land planted with switchgrass seed, it is estimated to yield 500 gallons of ethanol. Switchgrass, which is a perennial and doesn’t have to be replanted every year, can be harvested multiple times throughout the growing season depending on growing conditions. As a cash crop, it can be cut or grazed for forage early in the season then harvested for biofuel later in the season.

Generally speaking, switchgrass is able to adapt to a variety of soils and growing conditions but is most productive on sandy to clay loam soils. It grows quickly, with its roots being able to reach deeply into the soil for water—which helps prevent soil erosion during the winter—and it can stand as high as 10 feet, possessing thick and strong stems full of converted solar energy.

If you’re looking for high quality switchgrass seed for sale, call us here at Bamert Seed Company. 90% of the seeds we sell are produced on our farms; therefore, one can rest assured that strict quality control measures are in place.

For inquiries on our switchgrass seed or other native grass seed, please do not hesitate to call us at 1-800-262-9892. You may also visit our Plant Library on our website for more information on switchgrass, or read our How to Guide to learn more about how to plant native seeds.