Harvesting of Miscanthus

Harvesting of Miscanthus x Giganteus grass crop in the UK will usually take place during late winter and early spring following senescence, a time when other fields do not need much attention. The process of senescence is the drawing of the nutrients back into the ground for storage within the rhizomes; it causes the stem of the plants to lose moisture content and so they become ripe for harvesting.

When to Harvest Miscanthus

Image of Miscanthus Harvest using Claas HarvesterGiant Miscanthus will initially be harvestable after two years of growth from the time of planting. The first summer will produce stem heights of between one and two metres. Once the plants have two years of growth and more plant maturity, miscanthus harvest can expect to take in stems of at least three metres in length and subsequent years of growth should produce at least the same size but on an annual basis.

Fully grown fields of Miscanthus grass can be harvested in the UK between January and March using harvesting equipment that is readily available in the Agricultural industry. Harvesting takes place following complete die back of leaves and when Ground conditions allow travel. The higher the moisture when the crop is harvested, then the longer the crop will have to sit on the ground to dry.

How to Harvest Miscanthus

The method of harvesting Miscanthus for baling is to swath it, using an adapted maize/Grass self-propelled forage harvester adapted to produce 30 to 45 cm length rods, without breaking up the cane thus maintaining its waterproof qualities whilst drying The crop will naturally dry in the swath and will be ready to harvest once the rods have reached a moisture content of less than 16%.

If harvesting the Miscanthus for ‘Chip’ use, then the Forage harvester does NOT require adaption and the chip cut direct in the field when dry, but before new shoots start to appear. The chip is collected by trailers operating alongside the forage harvester and then taken to indoor storage.

Baling Miscanthus

Images of Miscanthus being baled

The moisture content at baling should be below 16%. If the crop is damp underneath, then turning the crop over in the swath just prior to baling should be considered to ensure all the crop is under 16% when baled

The end market will determine bale size, but the bales should have 6 tie string and packed tightly to ensure maximum weight in each bale. These bales will normally be Hesston bales, but will always be rectangular to maximise load stability and economic haulage.

Storage of Miscanthus

Images of Miscanthus bales

Once the crops are cut and baled they must be stored properly in a dry, safe area. This should take place indoors precautions should be taken to prevent minimal in store damage. Bales will normally be grown and purchased for and on contract, therefore it is essential to keep your bales in good condition prior to their collection. Bales will require loading on to purpose built bale lorries for transportation to their end use. Management efficiency needs to be combined with a maximisation of the quality of the miscanthus that is delivered to the buyer.

End Uses of Miscanthus

The continuing rising demand in the Energy sector means that good agronomy and process management should guarantee miscanthus growers healthy margins for the long term. Other markets purchasing the end product include bedding processors and fibre processors. With the need for a global reduction in carbon emissions and alternative sources of energy products constantly being sought, there is a very bright future for biofuels like giant miscanthus.

Related Content

Miscanthus – The Versatile Crop – Learn all about Miscanthus and its uses in a developing market
Could Miscanthus Power is own Machinery – Will we be using Miscanthus to power the machinery that harvests?

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