Main content area

Evaluation of sweet sorghum for fermentable sugar production potential

Smith, G.A., Bagby, M.O., Lewellan, R.T., Doney, D.L., Moore, P.H., Hills, F.J., Campbell, L.G., Hogaboam, G.J., Coe, G.E., Freeman, K.
Crop science 1987 v.27 no.4 pp. 788
Sorghum bicolor, cultivars, sugars, fermentation, ethanol, biomass, lignin, cellulose, agronomic traits, adaptation, United States
This study was prompted by the special interest in sugar crops, at a time of high petroleum prices and fuel shortages, as potential renewable resources which would supplement non-renewable fossil resources. Four to six sweet sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] cultivars were evaluated 4 yr for fermentable sugar production potential at eight locations in the continental USA and at one location in Hawaii. Latitudes represented ranged from 21 to N with the average number of frost-free days ranging from 120 to more thn 350. Data were collected for biomass yield, percent lignin, percent cellulose, stalk sugar yields, and other agronomic characters. Total sugar yield for the continental USA ranged from 4 Mg ha-1 to 10.7 Mg ha-1 during 3 yr of the study and up to 12 Mg/ha-1 at the Hawaiian location. Accordingly, theoretical ethanol production in the continental USA ranged from 2129 L ha-1 to 5696 L ha-1. Results of the study demonstrated that sweet sorghum is far more widely adapted than was anticipated for a plant of tropical origin and certainly has the potential for providing a good source of fermentable carbohydrates across a wide geographic area.