Location: Crop Protection and Management ResearchTitle: Initial assessment of energy beets in the Southeast Coastal Plain Author
Submitted to: USDA-ARS Research Notes
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/9/2012
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Energy beets as a non-food biofuel feedstock can help the U.S. achieve its renewable fuel goals, but with current emphasis on cellulosic feedstocks, there has been minimal research and development effort for energy beets in commercial bioconversion operations. Research was initiated to examine and explore the potential for the commercial development of this crop on the southeastern Coastal Plain. The extended growing season and mild winters on the Coastal Plain facilitate opportunities for production of multiple annual biofuel crops. It is projected that the use of autumn planted energy beets could provide a sugar based energy source in the early spring to mid-summer that minimize impacts on existing summer row crops including cotton, corn, peanuts and soybean. Planting underutilized winter-fallowed fields potentially offer growers additional income opportunities and integrates well with existing cropping systems. In 2010, experiments were initiated to determine the potential productivity of energy beets, with autumn planting dates in October and November. A blend of standard agronomic practices developed in other regions were applied and subsequently refined to improve the productivity of energy beets in the region. Planting dates, seeding rates, disease and weed management along with the identification of ideal harvesting dates have all been initially assessed. Preliminary results indicated that energy beet yields in the region are competitive with US average sugar beet yields. Spring harvested energy beets produced up to 57 tons per acre. Brix levels at these maximum yields ranged from 19 to 21%, with estimated ethanol yields of 1100 to 1400 gallons per acre.