Bamboo Farming USA

Pounds of Bamboo Shoots Per Acre - Data from WSU in Washington State



Cold Hardiness of the seven Research Varieties

Phyllostachys aureosulcata yellow groove -10°F, -23°C Early
Phyllostachys aurea golden 0°F; -18°C Late
Phyllostachys bambusoides Japanese Timber -5°F; -15°C (graph says "nigra") Very Late
Phyllostachys nigra henon Henon -5°F; -21°C Mid Season
Phyllostachys nuda Nuda -20°F; -29°C Early
Phyllostachys rubromarginata Rubro  -5°F; -21°C Late
Phyllostachys vivax Vivax -5°F; -21°C Mid



Overview of graphs

These graphs were created by Craig Cogger and Andy Bary at Washington State University. The research plots were planted in spring of 2001 in Puyallup, Washington in the maritime zone west of the Cascade Mountains. Each plot measures 25 feet on a side. There are seven varieties of bamboo. Each of four rows contains seven varieties. The seven varieties are randomly distributed. 

Wade Bennett of Rock Ridge Cidery & Orchards donated the plants. First harvest of bamboo shoots was 5 years later in 2006. 
Wade came twice a week to harvest shoots. He counted the number of shoots from each plot and weighed them. Andy Bary compiled the data and made the graphs.

These data are useful for farmers in the Pacific Northwest. In the Southeast, different varieties would do well. The main information is that there is a market for fresh bamboo shoots and, with minimal care, bamboo groves produce  2,000 pounds of shoots per acre. 

Temperature in early Spring affects Yield

The first three years appear to be yielding as one would expect. 2007 is more productive than 2006 and 2008 is more productive than 2007.  You expect yield from a new planting to increase each year until maturity. Therefore  2009 should yield more than the previous three years. Then why did  2009, the 8th year after planting,  yield fewer shoots than the 6th, 7th and 8th?

The answer is the cold wet spring. These groves are in the Pacific Northwest maritime climate where summers are dry and while warm in day are sweater cool at night.  Nuda, yellow groove and  vivax are known for cold tolerance. In 2006 and 2007 shooting began the end of April and early May. Temperatures were warmer so shooting was earlier. In 2008, shooting was the second half of May. Late, but the weather spiked hotter the second half of May and the three cold hardy bamboos shot pretty well, especially the yellow groove. In June the temperatures dropped below 60 degrees and the late bamboos, madake and golden did not shoot until July!

In 2009 the temperature did not rise above 55°F until the end of May. THen it soared into the 70s. Too late for good production. However madake produced more than in 2006. It is a late shooter. It appreciated the warmth at its late shooting time. (Madake is a giant timber bamboo and slower to mature than the other six varieties.) Golden produced the same as 2006, ie.,  pathetically little.  Nuda produced more than in 2006. For cold spring climates, nuda is a steady producer. Notice that it starts shooting early and has a short shooting season. It finishes before Japanese Timber begins.

These data from WSU show that temperature and therefore soil temperature at shooting time is critical. My research in the 1990's with henon bamboo in Kirkland, Washington, showed that shooting did not start until the soil warmed to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It also showed, as do these WSU data, that when warmth arrives late, the production of bamboo shoots does not catch up. Yield is higher with early season warmth than with late season warmth. Site your bamboo where soils warm up quickly in spring. Do not plant golden and japanese timber unless you are in a warm climate and have either summer rains or irrigation.