Managing Moso Shoots


This is the moso grove belonging to Georgia Bamboo in Bonaire, Georgia USA. The photo was taken on April 4, 2014. Notice the many shoots poking out of the ground. Notice how far apart the culms are. The grove was substantially logged for poles in winter 2014.

The soil temperature was 58°F when I took this photo. The moso first poked a few shoots above the ground at 54°F, a week earlier. There are more shoots this spring than in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Why?

First, moso is said to shoot in alternate years. It had minimal production in 2011 and 2013. In 2012 it produced the equivalent of 1800 pounds per acre, an increase over 2011 of close to 800 percent.

Second, there was ample rain in 2013. This moso receives no irrigation.

Third, the grove was heavily thinned for poles in winter 2014.  Thinning of poles induces greater shoot production. Thinning the grove lets more light onto the ground so the ground warms earlier. Shooting time depends on the genetics of the particular bamboo and on soil temperature. In other words, early shooting bamboo shoots at colder soil temperatures than late shooting bamboos.

My research plot is within the forest in the photo but is outside the frame of the photo. I thinned it moderately in summer of 2013. At the moment, it has fewer shoots than the surrounding forest which was heavily thinned in winter 2014. Perhaps my research plot will catch up to the surrounding forest in a week or two as its shaded soil warms up. On the other hand, it probably will not. I will thin it considerably in June, once this year’s shoots are leafed out. The contrast in productivity between the heavily thinned and lightly thinned areas is telling. This is especially true given that I thinned my research plot in the summer of 2011 and yield increased by close to 800 percent in April of 2012.

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