Sugarcane Biomass, Dry Matter, and Sucrose Availability and Variability When Grown on a Bioenergy Feedstock Production Cycle
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Sugarcane grows on over 170,000 ha in the state of Louisiana as part of a sugar industry that generates over $2 billion in annual economic impact. The multipurpose crop produces sugar, molasses, bagasse, boiler fly ash, filter press mud, water, and electricity. As a component of a theoretical bioenergy economy, bagasse and sugarcane itself may find a value-added niche as a renewable feedstock source. The objectives were to characterize yields of ‘Ho 02-113’ at two locations over 2 years and compare two harvest strategies, green-cane harvest (stalks-only), or complete biomass harvest (intact plants). The first- and second-ratoon crop and the plant-cane and first-ratoon crop were harvested monthly at the Ardoyne Farm or Spanish Trail, respectively. Total biomass yields of 120 Mg ha−1 and up to 35 Mg dry matter (DM) ha−1 at the Ardoyne Farm and total biomass > 140 Mg ha−1 and 50 Mg DM ha−1 at Spanish Trail were observed. Sucrose levels ranging from 2000 to 8000 kg ha−1 were recorded between August and September of each year. However, freezing conditions rapidly reduced sucrose levels from as high as 12,000 kg ha−1 to below detection limits within 60 days. Dry matter energy content of intact plants, stalks, and dry leaves was 17.0, 17.4, and 16.5 kJ g−1, respectively. The overall energy yields were 530 and 620 GJ ha−1 for the Ardoyne Farm and Spanish Trail, respectively. Results demonstrate that Ho 02-113 is a versatile feedstock and can meet sucrose and/or lignocellulosic feedstock needs in areas with temperate to subtropical temperatures.
KeywordsSugarcane and energycane Bioenergy feedstock production Dry matter and sucrose yield US biomass
The authors would like to thank Christopher Adams, Lionel Lomax, Trevis Olivier, Halley Burleson, and Kelvin Lewis for field and laboratory assistance. Deborah Boykin provided indispensable statistical consultation. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service, Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA, provided funding, land, and laboratory space for the project. An Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Competitive Grant, No. 2011-69005-30515, from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, provided funding for personnel (C. Adams). Mention of trade names or commercial products is solely for providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the USDA. The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
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