The land around Lake Okeechobee has long been one of the largest sugarcane producing regions in the nation. One company now wants to use a tract of land along the lake to produce sweet sorghum for ethanol.
Southeast Renewable Fuels plans to build a 20 million gallon per year ethanol production plant on a 60 acre site in Hendry County and have it operational by 2011, with the intention of building at least two more plants around the Lake Okeechobee area.
Company CEO Aaron Pepper says they currently has sweet sorghum field trials underway in various types of soils in the counties surrounding Lake Okeechobee. He is shown here inspecting some of those trials. The company is negotiating with area farmers about planting sweet sorghum, which is similar to the sugarcane familiar in the area and grows up to 15 feet tall, but can yield two harvests per year and so could be planted on sugarcane acreage when it is fallow.
The company is looking to raise at least $75 million for the project, the majority of which may come from investors in Brazil and Spain.