Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published in Energy in Agriculture, 5 (1986) 49-54.


Recent emphasis on energy problems has stimulated efforts to identify crops capable of producing high yields of biomass that can be converted into ethanol. The sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] crop includes cultivars and hybrids that vary widely in the relative amounts of grain and stalks produced, and also in the sugar content of the stalks. N39 x Wray, a relatively sweet hybrid with good grain potential, and Wray, a cultivar with sweet stalks, were compared for their grain and sugar yields, alcohol production potential, and other related characters. The hybrid produced heavier seeds, more seeds per head, and more heads per ha than the Wray. This resulted in a grain yield of 6630 kg/ha, about 3.4 times that of Wray. Wray produced about 10% more biomass with the stalk sugars accounting for about 80% of the total alcohol potential as compared to 45% for the hybrid. The total alcohol production potential (stalk plus grain) was 1.11 times as great for the hybrid as for Wray.