Energy crop company Ceres, Inc. announced that its Brazilian subsidiary Ceres Sementes do Brasil Ltda., has signed a sweet sorghum market development agreement with Syngenta. The companies will work together to support the introduction of sweet sorghum as a source of fermentable sugars at Brazil's 400 or more ethanol mills.
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 just 90 to 120 days, it requires less water and other inputs than sugarcane. Last season, Brazilian mills planted Ceres sweet sorghum on more than 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) — about the size of nine New York City Central Parks. Due in part to increased demand for ethanol and sugarcane shortages, Brazil's government recently announced in its annual agricultural plan for 2012-2013 that sweet sorghum would be considered a strategic crop.
Under the agreement, Syngenta and Ceres intend to collaborate on small-scale trials as well as larger demonstration-scale field evaluations with mills this season. Syngenta will provide its considerable agronomy resources to evaluate its portfolio of crop protection products alongside Ceres hybrids, and Ceres will provide both seed and research support. Both companies will coordinate outreach to ethanol mills and develop industry training programs.
"By working together with Syngenta, we believe we can advance the development of sweet sorghum crop management practices and provide a more complete package of advanced hybrids and leading crop protection products to our mutual customers," said Michael Stephenson, vice president of operations for Ceres.
"We are committed to helping our customers to optimize their operations throughout the season. The cultivation of sweet sorghum enables growers to use land and water resources more efficiently. In collaboration with Ceres, we aim to develop this opportunity by deploying our crop protection portfolio to achieve consistent yield improvement," said Daniel Bachner, Syngenta's global head of sugarcane.