Miscanthus Giaganteus Idea/?s

Steve Bartylla

5 year old buck +
So, here's the situation. I have a road that goes by a large, open field on one of the properties I manage. Everyone and their brother watches/kicks deer off that field. At the same time, that viewing makes it extremely tempting to "go in after a good one" that may be feeding out in that field. I need a privacy fence along the road and I'm 80% sure that miscanthus x giaganteus is the answer, as it seems to balance swift results with the potential to produce an 8-11' tall privacy fence. So, here are my ?s for those that have experience with this. We're talking a several thousand dollar purchase here. So, I can't afford to be wrong. The property is in west central IL, clay based soil with hot and dry stretches nearly every summer, they don't have winter as most of us think of.

1) would a single row of 3' spaced plants accomplish what I need or should I 2 plant 3'x3' staggered rows to achieve the results I'm looking for or would another configuration work better or am I wrong that this is the right path to take at all? I know 2 rows of spruce would work, but we are talking 10+ years to achieve the results I'm after. Warm season grasses aren't thick or tall enough to achieve the results I want. A true, conventional privacy fence is too much $$$$$$.

2) what is the most effective way to plant this? We're talking a total of a 10,000' long privacy fence. Most of it can be worked and sprayed easily enough, but bending over to plant 3333 (or 6666) tubers by hand isn't something I'm really looking forward too. For a fat old man I can get a lot done, but my back would nearly incapacitate me if I tried pulling that off. I'm not sure if I'd be able to roll out of bed for a full month afterward.

3) what are the chances this approach will work for more than 5-10 yrs? I REALLY don't want to give up the acreage, but should I really be planting 3 10'x10' staggered rows of spruce, with 2 3'x3' rows miscanthus behind it, to get the long term (10-20 yrs) results I'm looking for?
That field has nearly 2 miles of road frontage? That's one big field. I couldn't imagine the cost of a 10' tall fence that's 2 miles long. I would lean towards 2 rows (or more if possible) of trees to solve that problem. The first row would be a slower growing spruce or pine and the second row would be a fast growing hybrid poplar or hybrid willow. I planted about 6 rows of trees along 3/4 mile of field edges on my land in NW WI about 7 years ago and I'm very glad that I did. The pines are 6-10' tall and some of the hybrid poplars and cottonwoods are 20' tall (in the areas with more moisture). Planting trees is very easy and fast if you can rent a pull behind planter from the DNR. You could plant 2 rows of trees 2 miles long each in less than a day.

For a long terms visual screen, conifers are hard to beat. But hybrid poplar or hybrid willow can give you a quick temporary screen that will be more winter hardy and permanent than super grass. That's just my $0.02
I know very little about MG, but would plant spruce and a faster growing tree like HP. Maybe even red cedar would be a good choice.
What kind of a screen could you generate with HP and top them at 6-8 feet as a screen until the spruce grew taller? How about John's Bucky HP that is supposed to be thicker?
Thanks a ton, guys....Ben, it's really 2 fields, but, yes, they are not small and the property isn't either. that's part of the reason I want to get it right the first time.

Stu, I'll tell ya what. I'd be happy to have you and Art out to top the HPs and clear the tops :) Hell, cuz I'm too nice of a guy, I'd even be willing to supply the beverages around the world's biggest bon fire I'd make. Oh, and supply moral encouragement while I'm watching you do it, such as, "Art, you missed a top over there. Stu, looks like Art could use a hand," type stuff. Then again, that might be easy compared to bending over 3000-6000 times to stick roots in the ground.
1. I'm with Stu, 2 staggered rows.

2. I sprayed of my fence line early then used a subsoiler to dig a shallow trench. Walk along drop in the rhizomes, someone behind kicking dirt in, then run over with a 4 wheeler to pack the dirt. 3 guys managed 400/hour this way.
Pics are on this page http://www.habitat-talk.com/index.p...aganteus-propagation-from-cuttings.480/page-2

3. I'll let you know in 10 years if it was the right idea, but I believe it was. Spruce behind it would be a fail safe but that's a lot of extra work and expense.
LC - Has his trials with MG posted on QDMA. It seems like it would be quite an undertaking and risky to plant that much of it and it takes 3-4 years to reach max growth height. Long term I think you'll still want trees so with the expense to play with MG, I think I would lean more towards a EW, sorghum and sunflower mix screen for the short term and get the long term trees in behind it.
Hedge your bet and plant a small section of it in MG and see how it goes and if it does well, expand it.
Bill, wouldn't you think where Steve is planting these (west central IL) that he could expect pretty much a completely effective screen by year 3 (if there's no drought anyway)? I'd think by year 3 he'd have a "wall" at least 10' high and quite possibly higher.

I do think that by year 3 with good spring moisture it would be a screen.

By year two the locals that enjoy watching those deer in the fields would know something was up.

Here are my second year cuttings in a single row. Pic was taken mid November. The big guys on the ends are 5 years old.

Maybe I am wrong but it seems like many have had mixed results getting it started and it seems susceptible to flooding early on and with that much frontage that seems like a risky proposition.

Isn't there a saying, "Don't gamble what you cannot afford to lose." and it appears this failing would be problematic. My point is that me personally would not do all 2 miles in one swoop.
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Steve may be in a climate zone down there where he could use other faster growing conifers. I don't know how they hold there lower branches, but I think that loblolly/pitch pine would be ok in that area if it wasn't too far north. Maybe a couple rows of spruce next to the road and a couple rows of fast growing lob/pitch towards the field side. After the spruce were thick enough to provide a screen, one could always reclaim the area the lob/pitch is planted in.
WC IL is in a "high wind zone" come the summer storm season, how well will MG hold up to a couple rounds with Mr. Twister type blows when the summer thunderstorms move through that area? Just curious, because I have no clue, but if it were me asking the initial question on MG, I would want to know this.
Paying Devil's advocate the same could be said if he plants 2 miles of it and only has 20% of it successfully growing.

I don't think there is a right or wrong answer here and hindsight is always 20-20. I'm not easy to convince things are that easy/successful until proven so I would probably go with the annual for everything myself until the trees filled in but that's just me. I think if MG was foolproof a lot more would be using it instead of annuals. Maybe I'm totally off here and could be convinced otherwise.
WC IL is in a "high wind zone" come the summer storm season, how well will MG hold up to a couple rounds with Mr. Twister type blows when the summer thunderstorms move through that area? Just curious, because I have no clue, but if it were me asking the initial question on MG, I would want to know this.

I would like to know how this does as well. If it snaps over the fall/winter, does it start growing back fine the following year?
After doing over 1,000 last year I was thinking a pull behind tree planter would get it done just fine in sprayed grass, unless the sprouts have to be pointing up?
I'll be honest. The hole thing has enough of a "too good to be true" element to it that it makes me a little nervous. That said, so do some of the greatest things out there. They really are too good to be true and that what makes them great (i.e. just throw some dirt cheap cereal rye on the ground and watch it grow, frost seeding clover and top seeding brassicas into almost anything in the northern states being home runs in so many conditions are all also a bit "too good to be true" the first few times I tried them, but they really were that good).

WI, I already looked into its tolerance for withstanding high winds. Reports are pretty positive, and a very good share of the "fence" would are fairly well protected with the topo and tree cover (woods serving as wind break on other side of rd, at least). The best I've been able to discover, it won't hit spring in perfect condition, but, once established and "clumpy," it should stand up until season is out, for the most part, and a decent share should make it until spring, should stand better than EW & sorghum mixes.

I'll whittle the options down a bit. I have 0 desire to plant any annuals as a screen. I agree with Shawn that it is a viable solution. In fact, initially, I was going to do that with spruce, until the spruce got big enough. The catch is that I don't have the time to put in 2ish miles of annuals every year, and the long term costs are considerably higher (not a deal breaker, but the time aspect is).

Not that you guys likely want a blow by blow on how my twisted mind works, but I'm currently torn between 3 options:

2 rows of 3'x3' staggered miscanthus by themselves
2 rows of 10'x10' staggered spruce with 2 rows of 3'x3' staggered miscanthus behind it (to reclaim the crop ground taken by the 2 rows of 3'x3' staggered miscanthus once the spruce mature)
Looking further into fast growing evergreens, as WI suggests, and potentially altering options accordingly
Shawn is right if the area is prone to flooding I wouldn't risk it. Stuff doesn't like prolonged standing water.

My only real concern would be grass competition and specifically foxtail. It doesn't like competition during establishment. Biofuel guys stop using herbicides after year 3. Broad leaf weeds are easy 2-4 DB.
Foxtail can aggressively take over ground that has been sprayed off with Gly in my area. If I were to try it, I'd kill the strip early with Gly and a Heavy Atrazine application. Disk then hit the green up again. I'm not afraid to go heavy with the Atrazine. I believe the "do not exceed in a growing year" warnings are so there is no residual left for a crop rotation the next year. (if the field drains to a pond, river, or lake close by) I might not go over recommended amounts. no one like two headed frogs.

After doing over 1,000 last year I was thinking a pull behind tree planter would get it done just fine in sprayed grass, unless the sprouts have to be pointing up?

Makes no difference which way a Rhizome is put in the ground, new growth will seek the sun.

It aint standing up to a tornado, but heavy wind will not knock it down IF its planted in full sun. Plants in partial shade will blow over. After the first frost it turns into dry bamboo stakes and its not blowing over unless there is a windy ice storm, then everything is blowing over.
This will be good project to learn from so I hope you document the progress for us.
This would be another viable solution. My pitlolly experiment in southcentral and central WI was a failure, but they should do okay in WC IL I'd think. Brushpile would be a good resource on expected growth rates/growth form at various ages.
The urge to try them on that sand was great, but I never went there because I didn't figure they would do for squat in our central WI winters, not to mention the accelerated growth would not have been nearly as evident in our climate zone. Most likely no better than any other conifer and probably slower than jack pine. Was that your experience as well stu?
Thanks for the wind info guys, as I said I had no clue, but if it were my project it would weigh heavily on my decision for sure.

Stu, I knew the sand would not be an issue, but the weather would be the deal breaker, your trial was just as I'd expected.