Oklahoma State University

Evaluation of Establishment Success

Evaluation of Establishment Success

The ability to accurately evaluate stand establishment has little impact on the success of switchgrass production. However, it may alleviate some of the stress associated with establishing a slow-growing perennial grass. Correctly identifying switchgrass seedlings is crucial. The easiest way to correctly identify a switchgrass seedling is to properly identify any seed remnants attached to the emerged plant. This involves carefully extracting the seedling from soil without detaching the fragile, primary root system. Switchgrass seedlings generally have a smooth appearance and a purplish coloration on the lower portion of the stem.







Switchgrass seedling (note attached seedcoat). This seedling is well on its way to successful establishment. The primary (temporary) root system is still visibly attached to the seed coat. The permanent root system is in the early stages of development.








A quantitative evaluation of establishment relies on some form of stand count methodology. An easy tool is to construct a 5x5 grid using a cattle panel. The grid is randomly placed in several locations throughout the field. A good rule of thumb is to evaluate no fewer than 4 locations per acre. The number of individual sections that contain at least one switchgrass seedling is counted. It does not matter if there is one switchgrass seedling per section or 15 switchgrass seedlings per section; it is counted as only one. As an example, randomly place the grid in four locations and count the sections containing a switchgrass seedling. For each location, there are a total of 15, 14, 20, and 21 sections that contain at least one switchgrass seedling each, out of a possible 25 sections. The sum of these numbers, 70, is interpreted as a stand of 70 percent.



A simple method for evaluating switchgrass
seedlings stands may be no more than a section of a
cattle panel, five cells long and five cells wide.











A grid section with approximately 10
switchgrass seedling is counted as one.

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