Home / Crops / Corn / Corn is king, but sugar's sweet, too

Corn is king, but sugar's sweet, too

Agriculture.com Staff 07/12/2006 @ 1:43pm

One of the concerns about ethanol production in the U.S. is that eventually there may not be enough domestically grown corn available to both produce needed amounts of the biofuel and feed the nation's livestock.

Between the reduction in MTBE and surging prices of petroleum-based fuels, however, the demand for ethanol isn't going away, which means the supply will also have to increase.

Corn isn't the only choice when it comes to making ethanol, although it accounts for 97% of production in the U.S. One alternative is to use yeast and other organisms to ferment carbohydrates such as sugar, starch and cellulose. In Brazil, for example, the bulk of ethanol is made from sugarcane.

In fact, in 2005, Brazil produced more ethanol from sugarcane than the U.S. did from corn. Three hundred thousand gallons more. That shows sugar-to-ethanol production is technically feasible.

Drive across America, though, and you'll see field after field of corn, without much sugarcane in sight, unless you're cruising through Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii or Texas. But that doesn't mean the sweet stuff couldn't successfully be used to produce ethanol here.

A new report from the USDA, Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, Office of the Chief Economist, and Louisiana State University, examines the economic feasibility of producing ethanol from sugar feedstocks in the U.S.

Sugarcane juice, sugar beet juice, cane or beet molasses, raw sugar and refined sugar were all studied and compared with the costs of using grain feedstocks -- namely corn -- to produce ethanol.

One of the concerns about ethanol production in the U.S. is that eventually there may not be enough domestically grown corn available to both produce needed amounts of the biofuel and feed the nation's livestock.

There's no doubt corn is king when it comes to ethanol. It's the least expensive U.S. feedstock to convert, at $1.03 per gallon to convert via wet milling, and $1.05 via dry milling, according to the report.

CancelPost Comment
MORE FROM AGRICULTURE.COM STAFF more +

Farm and ranch risk management resources By: 07/07/2010 @ 9:10am Government resources USDA Risk Management Agency Download free insurance program and…

Major types of crop insurance policies By: 07/07/2010 @ 9:10am Crop insurance for major field crops comes in two types: yield-based coverage that pays an…

Marketing 101 - Are options the right tool… By: 07/07/2010 @ 9:10am "If you are looking for a low risk way to protect yourself against prices moving either higher or…

MEDIA CENTERmore +
This container should display a .swf file. If not, you may need to upgrade your Flash player.
Cool Tools Christmas Edition: Craftsman Two-in-One