Energy crop company Ceres, Inc. and Syngenta announced that they have extended a joint market development agreement in Brazil. The companies will move forward with their efforts to promote the use of both sweet sorghum and high biomass sorghum at Brazilian ethanol mills.

Under the renewed agreement, Syngenta and Ceres will continue to collaborate on field evaluations with mills. Syngenta will evaluate its portfolio of crop protection products alongside Ceres hybrids, while Ceres will provide both seed and research support. Both companies will coordinate outreach to ethanol mills and develop industry training programs.

Syngenta indicated that it plans to move forward with its evaluations aimed at registering additional crop protection products for sorghum. "We see sweet sorghum as a potential complement to sugarcane in ethanol production and we are working together with Ceres to identify the best protocols to fully protect and amplify the inherent potential of this crop," said Adriano Vilas Boas, Global Marketing Director for Sugarcane at Syngenta.

"We are pleased to be working with such a well-established leader to provide our mutual customers with more choices of crop protection products for sorghum," said Andre Franco, General Manager of Ceres' local subsidiary, Ceres Sementes do Brasil Ltda. "Working together with Syngenta we have made important progress in fine-tuning crop management practices that can enhance yields through greater protection against pests, diseases and weeds."

Sweet sorghum is a hardy crop that can extend the ethanol production season by up to 60 days in Brazil. It can be grown on fallow sugarcane land and processed using the same equipment. Since it grows in as few as 90 to 120 days, it requires less water and other inputs than sugarcane. Ceres' sweet sorghum products were planted on more than 3,000 hectares this past season, with more than 30 mills. Grown primarily for its biomass productivity rather than sugar content, high biomass sorghum is an energy crop that can be used as feedstock for biopower, such as heat and electricity.