A large expansion in renewable energy production is underway with an increasing focus on sustainable second-generation biofuels. Fast growing rhizomatous perennial grasses are leading candidates for lignocellulosic feedstock thanks to their positive energy balance, and low ecological/agro-management demands. Biomass accumulation is favored by the efficient use of available resources. The aim of this study was to identify which accumulation processes were most affected in the establishment year of a giant reed ( Arundo donax
L.) field crop grown under water and N deficiencies. The relative plasticity of growth of A. donax
in response to various levels of resource availability was evaluated. A field scale experiment was carried out, and treatments were arranged as a randomized complete block, strip-plot design with irrigation treatments as the main plot factor and pre-planting N rate as the sub-plot factor. Biometric relationships between variables were assessed to understand how agro-management factors influence the above ground biomass of giant reed, as well as yield over time. Evidence is presented indicating that growth is strongly enhanced by water availability (+97% dry weight biomass). Changes in composition were not significant within or among fixed treatments, rather changes were observed over time. A high content of glucans and xylans were detected from early stage, and as the mobilization of minerals increased, lignin content significantly increased as well (from 12% to 36% w/w). These results suggest that an increase in the growth of A. donax
in the establishment year is accomplished by a limited use of the water input.