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Lemongrass Productivity, Oil Content, and Composition as a Function of Nitrogen, Sulfur, and Harvest Time


Lemongrass Productivity, Oil Content, and Composition as a Function of Nitrogen, Sulfur, and Harvest Time



Agronomy Journal 103(3): 805-812



ISSN/ISBN: 0002-1962

DOI: 10.2134/agronj2010.0446

Lemongrass [Cymbopogon flexuosus (Steud.) Wats, (syn. Andropogon nardus var. flexuosus Hack; A. flexuosus Nees)] is one of the most widely grown essential oil plants in the world. Field experiments were conducted at Verona and Poplarville, MS, to evaluate the effects of N (0, 40, 80, and 160 kg N/ha) and S (0, 30, 60, and 90 kg S/ha) on lemongrass biomass productivity, essential oil content, yield, and oil composition. Overall, the essential oil content varied within 0.35 to 0.6% of the dried biomass. The major constituents were geranial (25-53%), neral (20-45%), caryophyllene oxide (1.3-7.2%), and t-caryophyllene (0.3-2.2%). Biomass yields at Verona ranged from 9486 to 19,375 kg/ha, while oil yields ranged from 30 to 139 kg/ha. Overall, dry weight yields increased with the application of 80 kg N/ha relative to the 0 kg N/ha and with 160 kg of N/ha relative to the 0 and 40 kg N/ha treatments. At Poplarville, biomass yields varied from 8036 to 12,593 kg/ha, while oil yields ranged from 23.5 to 89.5 kg/ha. The application of N at 160 kg/ha at Poplarville increased dry weight yields relative to the N at 0 or 40 kg/ha rates, irrespective of the rate used for S. At Verona, within each S application rate, biomass yields were highest in Harvest 2, lower in Harvest 1, and the lowest in Harvest 3 (regrowth). The combined biomass yields of Harvest 1 and Harvest 3 would be lower, but oil yields would be higher compared to Harvest 2 (single-harvest system). Lemongrass can be grown as an annual essential oil crop in the southeastern United States, with a potential for dual utilization: essential oil and lignocellulosic material for ethanol production.

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