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June 18, 2007



The farmers will continue to use the sorghum grain, while they can earn an additional income from selling the juice.

While sweet sorghum has potential as an energy crop, the above is just a sales pitch: in the process of producing the grain, the plant uses up most of the sugar supplies it had built up in the stalk. The farmer growing sorghum for fuel will want to harvest it in an immature state, when the sugar content of the plant is highest.

The plant isn't a bad potential energy crop: I've read that on a per-acre basis, it could supply twice the fuel as grain from corn. There are logistical obstacles, though, especially in a temperate climate. Like sugarcane, the plant begins losing sugar the moment it is harvested, and so needs to be processed quickly after harvest. In tropical sugarcane growing regions, this doesn't pose an obstacle to year-round operation of processing equipment; the harvest can be continuous. But in temperate climates, the harvest cannot be continuous, and the sugary part of the crop doesn't store well. Add to that the immense mass of wet biomass that is a freshly mown sorghum field, and to make it work in a temperate climate, you need to have the ability to pre-process the harvest on the farm, maybe to a concentrated sugar syrup, which can then be hauled to the processing facility.

sam salamay

I have an on-the-farm ethanol system whereas the sweet sorghum is used asap. From 50,000 gallons per year to 1,000,000 gallons per year production and $.50 cents a gallon when ethanol is refined. This article is releasing hardship for the oil companies. For years, they have been bad-mouthing ethanol and unfortunately for ethanol, corn is the preferred crop, refined at $2.00-$3.00 per gallon. And as of 2008, all new "large" plants will be 90% NON-farmer owned. This is a shot in the face of our nation and its time the farmer had an opportunity to solve our energy problems, sharing in the wealth as well. My associate is a 35 year vet of ethanol and his stories will amaze anyone. Our oil solution is here and now so we need to own this technology equally.


"The farmers will continue to use the sorghum grain, while they can earn an additional income from selling the juice”

If cellulosic ethanol ever takes off big, then this is no longer valid anyway. Farmers will likely get a better price for ethanol than for food. Why would they sell the grain if they can sell it more profitably as input for cellulosic ethanol plants? Food prices go up, same old story.

And without cellulosic technologies, ethanol, especially from corn, is nothing short of pathetic. Brazil might just get away with it due to things like
- A climate suitable for high yield crops (cane), and, more importantly,
- Significantly less gasoline consumption, like 97% less or so...

I don't think there's a way out of the fuel vs food competition with biofuels, at least not without causing severe externalities...

In fact, I don't think we can do large-scale terrestrial plant-based biofuels at all without causing severe externalities...


True, perhaps one of the largest obstacles to cellulosic ethanol is the logistics.

A highly bulky perrenial terrestrial crop in a temperate climate just isn't going to cut it.


I don't see the storage issue as that much of a problem for cellulosic ethanol, even in a temperate climate. Properly baled hay can sit in or beside the field for months.

Don B.

This question goes to CYRUS: Do you have specialized equiptment for harvesting sweet sorghum? Does it cut the plant, express the juice, then store it on-board. Do you dry and burn the stover to fuel the distillation process? I heard that in warmer climates, you can get 2 crops per year?!What is the cost comparison...to the farmer, of growing corn VS sorghum?
Thanks for your input,

Don B.


Once again, another "tropical solution".

We can't screw over our tropics.

1. There's billions of tons of carbon in the trees
2. There's billions of tons of carbon in the soils
3. The daytime water vapor given off by the trees reflects sunlight where we need it most. (And doesn't block the heat coming off at night)

We can't compromise climate security in the name of energy security.

(Hell, if that was our goal, we should just liquify coal and be done with it)

Ric M Obsines

I would like to get in touch with Cyrus and get to know more about their technology. Please email to: agri.trends1545@gmail.com. Thanks. Ric M Obsines

Ric M Obsines

Oppps my query should be to sam salamy, not to cyrus. sorry for the error. Ric

Price Acomplia

Hello. Good article )

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