Researchers at Salisbury University in Maryland are studying the potential for growing sweet sorghum for cellulosic ethanol in the state.
Since May, eight sweet sorghum varieties have been growing on a Wicomico County farm for evaluation as potential stock for ethanol production on the Delmarva peninsula. Dr. Samuel Geleta of Salisbury Univerisity’s Biological Sciences Department says about half of the varieties have already been harvested, with the rest to be finished by mid-October. Some of the plants grew to a height of 12 feet. He said sweet sorghum is attractive because it is drought resistant, fast-growing and has low nutrient and fertilization requirements. “Sweet sorghum can be grown on marginal land with less fertilizer and water as compared to corn,” Geleta said. “Since sweet sorghum juice contains simple sugar, producing ethanol from it simply requires extracting the juice and fermenting.”
Recently, Dr. Geleta (pictured on the right) showed his work to some of Maryland’s state legislators – (LtoR) Addie Eckardt, Jim Mathias and Rudy Cane. The study is being funded by the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board and spearheaded by the Delmarva Sweet Sorghum for Ethanol Group.