“We discovered the anecdotes were true for the most part,” he said. “Herbicides that are safe to use on corn demonstrate good selectivity to Giant Miscanthus.”

Anderson said it’s more difficult to kill a grass weed in a grass crop such as Giant Miscanthus. Identifying herbicides that don’t hurt its yield or growth and maturity also posed challenges for researchers.

“I think the key is finding pre-emergence herbicides that you can get in early to take care of weed problems in Giant Miscanthus,” he said.

Atrazine is one of the herbicides that proved safe on M. xgiganteus.

“The good news is that atrazine is completely safe pre- or post-emergence,” he said. “Atrazine is cheap and relatively effective. One of the major reasons we are continuing to screen more herbicides is to find additional effective options if atrazine utilization were limited in areas where Giant Miscanthus might be grown.”

While there remains no approved label use for herbicides on M. xgiganteus for biofuel production, Anderson hopes this research can serve as a foundation for either growers to begin an IR-4 specialty product process or for a major chemical company to add it to their label in the future.

Giant Miscanthus production is picking up in states such as Kentucky and Georgia, he said. He believes adding this feedstock to herbicide labels is not far off, but may be dependent on USDA’s support of cellulosic ethanol.

This research, “Miscanthusx giganteus Response to Pre-emergence and Postemergence Herbicides,” was published in Weed Technology. Researchers included Anderson, Thomas Voigt, Germán Bollero and Aaron Hager.