Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.
Bamboo is a perennial, woody-stemmed grass
known for its rapid growth habit and variety of uses.
Edible young shoots are used in cooking, while
mature canes (or culms) are harvested for timber-
uses that include fences, stakes, fishing poles,
crafts and furniture. Bamboo is also planted as a
landscape ornamental and for various conservation
purposes. Bamboo foliage is reportedly a
nutritious forage for grazing cattle. River cane
bamboo (Arundinaria gigantea) is native to
Kentucky and much of the southeastern U.S.
Marketing and Market Outlook
Potential growers should thoroughly investigate
all aspects of growing and marketing this crop
before considering production. While bamboo
has become the focus of increased attention as a
potential alternative crop, there are a number of
serious limitations to commercial production. A
major concern is its reputation for being invasive
and difficult to eliminate. Only growers willing
to install appropriate barriers to prevent unwanted
spread should consider pursuing this enterprise.
Additionally, bamboo requires a long-term
investment and markets are uncertain.
Potted bamboo can be marketed wholesale
to garden centers, nurseries and landscape
contractors. Bamboo plants can also be sold for
retail prices at local farmers’ markets. Mail order
and Internet markets will involve
nationwide sales and shipping.
Locally adapted bamboo should
have a marketing advantage
over less hardy plants from out-of-state sources.
Fresh bamboo shoots are considered a tasty
alternative to the more readily available canned
import. However, many U.S. consumers are
unfamiliar with preparing and cooking bamboo.
Providing instructions, along with recipes,
will be an important aspect of promoting fresh
shoots. Health food stores, farmers’ markets and
ethnic markets are potenti