Bamboo Farming USA

Phyllostachys praecox - Early Bamboo - First to Shoot

Summary 2011

Phyllostachys praecoxis an important species of bamboo in southern China. It is grown mainly for producing edible shoots. It is planted in a total of 60,000 ha in Zhejiang Province. Zhejiang is south of Shanghai bordering the East China Sea.This is about the same latitude (30° ) as the southern tip of Japan and of the Pan Handle of Florida.

My harvest of P.   praecox in 2011  was the equivalent of 1500 pounds an acre. As I continue to manage the research plot over the next year, I hope to at least double that number.  P. praecox began shooting on March 8, 9 days before moso. Harvest ended 15 days later on the 23rd. In other words, shooting lasted two weeks.

In South China,  P. praeox is managed intensively with mineral fertilizers applied during the year and 6 inches of rice straw and seven inches of rice grain hulls applied in December. Shooting was earlier because the mulch warmed the soil. Early shoots are more valuable. Pounds harvested can reach 5,500 pounds per acre. My reading of the article in "Forest Ecology and Management" Vol 236, Issue 1, 15 Nov. 2006 pp 30-36 is that this management regime is excessive and leads to water pollution and degraded bamboo stands.

Shooting in Fort Valley Georgia began when the soil temperature reached 52°F/11.1°C. It ended when soil reached 60°F/15.5°C.  P.praeeox finished shooting before  Vivax aureocaulis, Henon, Houzeau, Robert Young and P.  Bambusoidesbegan shooting.


Summary 2012

 This year the praecox began shooting along the southern edge on Feb 21. S oil was 60° on that edge and 56° inside the grove. The shoots differ from others in that they have a long woody base even when just barely above the ground.

The shoot on the left was badly dug and the base broke off. Save this one for home cooking. Don't send it to market as it will not last long. The one in the middle verges on being dug too late. Shape should be roundish, not longish. It has a strangely long neck/base. One on right is nicely egg  shaped. The long base is not found so much on other bamboos.



 I used loppers to cut those woody bases off.  



I piled leaves over emerging shoots. They did not develop the dark spots that uncovered shoots have. I assume they lack bitterness.  They will sell  better.  Praecox is hard to see as it emerges in dried leaves. I wonder if its  camouflage is to protect it from grazing animals.


Species Source List Data - American Bamboo Society 2011

Max Height: 33 ft/19.1 meters; Max diameter: 2.0 inches/5.1 cm; Min. Temp. 5°F/-15°C; Full Sun
Young culms dark green, purplish nodes. Grown for its shoots in China"

My largest pole is 3 inches/ 7.62 cm. Did not measure the length. Used poles to make dishes, cups, business card holders.


Shoots are brown and hairless. 
These came up outside the grove so can all be dug. This controls the grove spreading.

Harvested with base intact

The lower part of the shoot unexposed to sun is yellow. 
I have since changed my digging shovel to King of Spades. Much easier and faster.

Some with bases intact; some with bases cut.

Average weight was .39 pounds./.176kg. 
Mud to be washed off later.

We prefer the meat to have no green.

Easy to peel; easy to cook! 
We prefer to have the meat white with no green. The greener the more bitter.

Remove Sheath Leaves

One of the ways to peel a shoot is to slice it in half lengthwise and fold back the sheaths. The inner meat pops out. Many of the tender sheaths are also edible, like the tender leaves of artichoke.

Grill, Broil, Eat

Try broiling or grilling thin sliced shoots. Brush with soy sauce. Eat like finger food. Yum.

Research grove of P. praecox in Fort Valley

Photo taken Jan 2, 2012 
The stakes mark the edges of the 32 foot by 32 foot research plot. The canes with faded surveyors tape around them were marked as new shoots to grow up and not be harvested. The tape has held the sheath leaf so it did not fall to the ground.   P. praecox i has a nodal ridge.

The National Herbarium at the Smithsonian

I spent three days in October 2011 at the Herbarium. I only found two sheets for   Phyllostachys praecox.

Herbariu of Nanjing Technological College of Forest Products, Nanjing, China
Phyllostachys praecox et D.S. ChaoDet. C.D Chu coll. Date 1975 Coll. no. 75147
Chu e Zhou Phyllostachys praecox Chu et Chao
Anji County, Hekiang Pro. 100 m alt cultivated 6-8 m 3-5 cm culms green
Shoots appear in early spring and tastes (sic) sweet
The chinese 'Zozhu' means Early Bamboo bamboo soots for good dishes
widespread in Jiangam and Chekiang Prov.