Sweet sorghum, a cane-like plant with a high sugar content grown primarily
for forage, silage and sugar production, could become the next big alternative
Steve Moore, a Louisiana State University AgCenter plant pathologist, is
interested in planting the crop in the AgCenter's research fields in Alexandria.
"I think we can do a bang-up job
in producing it," Moore said. "With the amount of sugar it can produce, it could
be an attractive crop – even more so than corn."
Better than corn
Corn production has doubled in Louisiana
since this past year, from 120,000 ha to 240,000 ha, mostly because of demand
McClune, president of the Iowa-based Sorganol Production Co., has presented
research to the AgCenter from Iowa State University that shows sweet sorghum can
produce more than six times the ethanol, about 3,037 gallons per acre (28,400
l/ha), than the 450 gallons per acre (4,200 l/ha) produced from corn.
Louisiana's sub-tropical climate,
McClune said, also is ideal for growing sweet sorghum. He said it can be grown
in Louisiana nine to 10 months during the year, compared with four to five
months in midwestern states such as Iowa. Sweet sorghum also can be grown and
turned into ethanol a lot cheaper than corn, returning about $1,000 more per
acre (app. $2,500/ha) than corn.
AgCenter engineers, however, are waiting to
see if the technology McClune is touting lives up to expectations.
Dossier AllAbout Bio Energy
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