“Energy beets” have proven to produce double the ethanol of corn per acre, but what are the economics and where should these beets be grown are questions still under research. Naturally, energy beets can be grown where sugar beets are grown, and that pulls North Dakota State University researchers into the analysis because of all the experience that farmers in the state have in growing sugar beets.
Beets grown in 2012 looked reasonable, especially compared to some other crops grown in short moisture situations and high temperatures, although harvest has not been completed on 14 test plots in 11 locations around North Dakota.
Previous research has shown yields from 28 tons per acre for dryland production up to 41 tons per acre on irrigated acres, according to Craig Talley, betaseed technology manager working with the NDSU Northern Research Extension Center near Minot. The research is being done under the BeetsAll Biofuel project, which is a partnership between the Green Vision Group (GVG) of Fargo, N.D., and Heartland Renewable Energy (HRE) Muscatine Iowa, with NDSU extensively involved with the research plot trials across the state.
The goals and participant quotes about the program are available by reading an online article of the Minnesota Farm Guide written by Sue Roesler by clicking here.
The promoters of energy beet production see the potential for about a dozen ethanol plants and energy beets being part of nearly every farmer’s crop rotation in the Upper Midwest and parts of states east of the Rocky Mountains.
“Farmers who raise energy beets may see greater soil health because the tap root penetrates as deep as 6-8 feet, using nutrients, nitrogen and water that other crops don't reach,” Talley is quoted as saying by Roesler. “Growers who add energy beets into a three year rotation could expect a profitable income.”