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Company unveils energy-only crops

Ceres, Inc. announced last week it has begun booking switchgrass and high-biomass sorghum seed under its Blade Energy Crops label. The launch marks the first seed sales of non-food, low-carbon crops developed specifically as raw materials for biofuels and biopower.

Anna Rath, vice president of commercial development, says switchgrass and high-biomass sorghum can provide new options for growers, especially on underperforming acres. While she expects the bulk of Blade seed to be sold to bioenergy companies this first year, the company has set aside seed for growers interested in gaining experience with these crops as the market for biomass develops.

"With mandates for 21 billion gallons of biofuels from non-corn sources and renewed interest in cleaner-burning alternatives to coal, energy crops could offer farm operators a sizeable opportunity," Rath says. She adds there are various state and federal initiatives to support growers, including the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which is expected to be introduced soon by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Blade sales director Frank Hardimon said that many bioenergy producers are looking for a mix of crops to provide flexibility from year to year and mitigate risk. "With a perennial and an annual crop in our product portfolio, we can support a broad range of geographies and production systems," he says.

Ceres, Inc. announced last week it has begun booking switchgrass and high-biomass sorghum seed under its Blade Energy Crops label. The launch marks the first seed sales of non-food, low-carbon crops developed specifically as raw materials for biofuels and biopower.

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