Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

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Study Looks at Economics of Wheatgrass as Dual-Purpose Crop

Publication: Manitoba Co-Operator

Author: Geralyn Wichers

A new study is looking at intermediate wheatgrass’s potential to be both cash crop and quality forage in the same year.

Intermediate wheatgrass is a perennial grain sometimes known by the trade name ‘Kernza.’ It has historically been used as forage in North America, but in its recent years has been pegged as the most likely candidate for a viable, perennial grain crop.

Yield is the hang-up. Researchers have doubled grain yield, but the plants produce on average of just under 15 bushels per acre in Manitoba.

A study from the University of Manitoba will look at the possibility of first harvesting a grain crop from intermediate wheatgrass, then grazing cattle on the regrowth in late fall and winter.

The research team includes Emma McGeough from the animal science department; Doug Cattani, who received provincial recognition in 2019 for work with perennial grains; soil science professor, Francis Zvomuya, and others.

Bill Biligetu of the University of Saskatchewan is also on the team, along with researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Land Institute in Kansas.

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