Switchgrass is a multi-purpose crop that is native to Kentucky.

Once established, switchgrass grows well on marginal land, but it can take several years to produce a significant crop.

Researchers in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment have investigated methods to improve establishment time, which could make the crop more appealing to some growers.

It typically takes producers at least two to three years to establish a harvestable crop, and for some it can take upwards of four years to get a significant yield. Factors leading to slow establishment include poor seed quality, slow germination and weed competition.

Researchers have conducted many studies on improving establishment, but many of the solutions, such as cold stratification, require specialized training.

Since the summer of 2012, UK graduate student Whitney Churchman and her adviser turfgrass scientist David Williams have been trying to find a relatively easy and inexpensive way to improve establishment. It appears a common turfgrass management strategy to improve and hasten germination could work.