Ernst Conservation Seeds

Switchgrass Variety Zone Map Key

Selecting The Right Switchgrass Varieties

Our current supply of switchgrass seed is from wild regional populations made by plant materials centers. They have minimal genetic improvement other than selection for very general characteristics and/or forage and yield values, regional adaptability, seed productivity, and seedling strength. This group of varieties has worked well for forage, CRP, wildlife habitat, and erosion control, and has been the basis for current biomass production.

Switchgrass Map

The following varieties are available in commercial quantities from Ernst Conservation Seeds, Inc.:

Adapted Maturity Zone:

00, 0, I

‘Dacotah’-ND Ecotype - approximately one month earlier in anthesis than ‘Forestburg’, and 45-50 days earlier than ‘Blackwell’, ‘Summer’, ‘Cave-In-Rock’, ’Pathfinder’, and ‘Nebraska 28’; shorter in mature height and less rank growth than southern cultivars; this variety has increased drought tolerance.

0, I, II

‘Forestburg’-SD Ecotype - superior winter hardiness and persistence, seed production ability, and earlier maturity than other accessions; forage production at northern latitudes exceeds that of ‘Dacotah’, and equal to or greater than ‘Nebraska 28’; similar to ‘Sunburst’ in performance and adaptation.

I, II, III

‘Sunburst’-Midwestern U.S. Ecotype - good seedling vigor and stand establishment; good biomass production and yield.

I, II, III

‘Nebraska 28’-NE Ecotype - relatively early maturing strain of switchgrass; average plants semi-decumbent, with fine stems of moderate height; bluish green and leafy; well adapted to diverse soils; used successfully for pasturage and soil conservation purposes.

I, II, III, IV

‘Shelter’-WV Ecotype - thicker stems and fewer leaves than other varieties; stands well during winter to shelter wildlife; biomass production is less than many other varieties.

I, II, III, IV, V

‘Cave-In-Rock’-IL Ecotype - greater seedling vigor; more resistant to dampening off or leaf spot; higher seed yields; resistant to lodging; flood tolerant; withstands droughty soils, but better suited to wet soils; generally a good biomass producer in the Midwest and Northeast where there is good soil fertility.

II, III, IV, V

‘Blackwell’-OK Ecotype - medium height, with rather large stems; ranked high in leafiness, total forage produced, and resistance to rust and other diseases; performs well on poor, wet sites in the Northeast; biomass potential in midwestern areas.

II, III, IV, V

‘Shawnee’-IL Ecotype - improved forage variety selected from ‘Cave-In-Rock’; excellent biomass production and forage quality.

III, IV, V, VI

‘Carthage’-NC Ecotype - leafy growth habit; exhibits strong seedling vigor and better than average rhizome spread; early spring recovery; increased biomass yield over midwestern varieties; high nutrient value.

IV, V, VI, VII

‘Kanlow’-OK Ecotype - tall, coarse, productive variety, especially adapted to lowlands where flooding, high water table, or other excess water problems occur; performs well on upland sites where soils are not too thin or droughty.

IV, V, VI, VII, VIII

‘BoMaster’-NC Ecotype - potential as a forage or biomass crop adapted to the southeastern states; trials indicate a higher biomass yield over ‘Cave-In-Rock’ and ‘Alamo’.

IV, V, VI, VII, VIII

‘Performer’-NC Ecotype - high nutritive value, which leads to excellent forage; dry matter yield comparable to ‘Cave-In-Rock’ and ‘Alamo’; primarily adapted to the southeastern states.

V, VI, VII, VIII, IX

‘Alamo’-TX Ecotype - longer, wider leaves, and a much greater forage producer than ‘Blackwell’; adapted south of area where ‘Blackwell’ and ‘Kanlow’ perform well; flowers in fall, one to two months later than ‘Blackwell’; moderate salt tolerance; grows in all soil types.