South Valley Ethanol Puts Call out for Sorghum
by John Lindt (The Business Journal) The Valley’s only ethanol production plant is encouraging local farmers to plant grain sorghum next spring, promising to buy the grain to make ethanol instead of using Midwestern corn.
“We would love to buy all the sorghum they can produce,” said Lyle Schlyer, president of Calgren Renewable Fuels near Pixley in Tulare County.
Currently, the 55-million-gallon ethanol plant depends almost 100 percent on trainloads of corn shipped from the Midwest to make the biofuel.
…As a result of discussions earlier this year, several local growers planted some 1,100 new acres of the crop, (Jeff) Chedester said. Later this fall, that sorghum will be run through the Calgren plant with the theory being that no significant modifications will be needed in the facility to make ethanol.
…Sorghum is used to make biofuel in some states with a larger crop. Forty-three percent of the sorghum produced in Kansas and 23 percent of the sorghum produced in Texas is used to make ethanol, according to an industry source.
Chedester said benefits of producing sorghum include the fact that the grain will grow in high pH — salty — soil, uses a third of the water that corn requires, uses half the fertilizer and the seed costs about 20 percent of the current seed price for corn.
On the production side, farmers will get around three tons per acre for sorghum compared to five tons per acre for corn, “but with the lower input costs and lower water use, this really does pencil out,” Chedester said. READ MORE