We’ve certainly heard a lot about switchgrass as a biomass option for the production of ethanol. How many of you have seen it growing?
That’s it behind Cory Christensen, Director of Product Managment, Ceres, who was conducting Sunbelt Ag Expo presentations in the field. He says it’s a first season stand of their Blade energy crop. It was developed specifically for the southeast. Since it’s the first season for this crop they won’t harvest it at Sunbelt until next year. A mature yield for the crop is about 8 tons per acre of dry matter. By the second season next year it will be at 80 percent of maturity.
Switchgrass is native to the United States everywhere east of the Rockies. Ceres, has been working on varieties that will yield better in different growing environments though. Cory says that they don’t expect it to displace corn in Iowa but in the southeast with the difficulties in cotton and tobacco it becomes a viable alternative on open acres. He provides some estimates of what the crop can mean financially as the market for a fuel crop like switchgrass develops.
Cory describes the current market as a “developing market.” They have a map that shows developing opportunities where plants will be located to process energy crops. He says that biomass is a local business so you need to be located near a biorefinery. He also points to the USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program that provides monetary assistance to facilitate the transition of eligible land to energy crops.
You can listen to my interview with Cory below: