Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Baldwin, Brian S.

Committee Member

Kingery, William L.

Committee Member

Rude, Brian J.

Committee Member

Reddy, Raja K.

Committee Member

Cox, Michael S.

Other Advisors or Committee Members

Riffell, Samuel K.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Department of Plant and Soil Sciences


Some native warm-season forage grasses [indiangrass (IG, Sorghastrum nutans), big bluestem (BB, Andropogon gerardii) and little bluestem (LB, Schizachyrium scoparium)] are gaining popularity for improving summer forage production and wildlife habitat in the southeastern USA. Paucity of information about appropriate harvest management limits their restoration success. An experiment was conducted to assess effects of harvest intervals (30-, 40-, 60-, 90 or 120-d) and harvest duration on forage yield and quality, plant growth, sward structure and botanical composition of their mixed stands at Bryan Farms, Clay County, MS. Total season forage was greatest for 30-d and more from first (8472 kg ha-1) than second year plots (7627 kg ha-1). Yield was reduced by up to 43% in the second harvest year. Forage quality (crude protein content and in vitro digestibility) decreased with lengthening of harvest interval and across the harvest season. Tiller weight increased while specific leaf area and relative growth rate decreased with lengthening of harvest interval in first and second year plots. Harvesting reduced sward heights the following May, but treatment did not affect sward heights. Season mean sward heights were shorter for short harvest intervals. Light interception was greatest in the control and decreased with shortening of harvest intervals. Continuous harvesting controlled Solidago canadensis, increased herbaceous forbs, and LB, but decreased IG without substantial effect on BB. Rotational harvesting at 30- or 40-d intervals may improve forage production without compromising breeding cover during recovery. Studies on other management practices including fertilizer application and timing of harvest are needed.