First Seed Sales of Dedicated Energy Crops Begin

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ — Ceres, Inc. announced today
that it has begun booking switchgrass and high-biomass sorghum seed under its
Blade Energy Crops label. The highly anticipated launch marks the first seed
sales of non-food, low-carbon crops developed specifically as raw materials
for biofuels and biopower. The company simultaneously launched a Blade website
to support direct-to-farm sales.

The company reported that the first Blade products build on the inherent
advantages of these highly efficient crops, offering double-digit biomass
yield gains in many cases — a remarkable level of improvement by crop science
standards. High yields are needed since widely dispersed sources of biomass
are cost-prohibitive to harvest and transport.

Anna Rath, vice president of commercial development, says that switchgrass
and high-biomass sorghum can provide new options for growers, especially on
underperforming acres. While she expects the bulk of Blade seed to be sold to
bioenergy companies this first year, the company has set aside seed for
growers interested in gaining experience with these crops as the market for
biomass develops.

“With mandates for 21 billion gallons of biofuels from non-corn sources
and renewed interest in cleaner-burning alternatives to coal, energy crops
could offer farm operators a sizeable opportunity. No doubt growers with
experience under their belts will have a head start as bioenergy companies
begin looking for larger-scale supplies of biomass, or locations to site new
facilities,” Rath suggested. She noted that there are various state and
federal initiatives to support growers, including the Biomass Crop Assistance
Program (BCAP), which is expected to be introduced soon by the U.S. Department
of Agriculture.


Blade sales director Frank Hardimon said that many bioenergy producers are
looking for a mix of crops to provide flexibility from year to year and
mitigate risk. “With a perennial and an annual crop in our product portfolio,
we can support a broad range of geographies and production systems,” he said.

Blade seed products include two improved switchgrass seed varieties — EG
1101 and EG 1102 — and two new high-biomass sorghum hybrids — ES 5200 and ES

EG 1101 is a lowland-type switchgrass bred for greater biomass yields and
better establishment. It has high biofuel conversion potential, and has shown
superior conversion characteristics for biochemical and thermochemical
processes. “It may work well in a 2-cut system in high rainfall areas,” noted
Hardimon. A similar cultivar, EG 1102, is adapted farther north than EG 1101.
Several switchgrass varieties suited to mid and northern latitudes are also
available from Blade.

ES 5200 and ES 5201 are two high-biomass sorghum hybrids that offer high
yield potential in single-cut harvest systems. Since the plants generally do
not produce grain heads until very late in the season, if at all, they
continue growing — and producing more biomass — until early autumn or the
first killing freeze. “This offers the potential for tremendous productivity,”
said Hardimon. Blade will also have sorghum hybrids suited to multi-cut
harvest systems.

Blade will also be the first major brand to package sorghum seed by count
rather than weight — an industry practice that has been well received in corn
and soy. “This allows producers to purchase only the amount of seed they need
rather than having to overbuy to cover variations in seeds per pound,”
Hardimon said. Likewise, Blade switchgrass seed will be sold as pounds of pure
live seed (PLS) — rather than bulk weight — so customers will purchase only
viable seeds.

Hardimon said that he has been encouraged by the early interest he has
received from members of the grower community. Brand representatives are now
making farm visits and taking over-the-phone bookings, but he encouraged
growers to try out the online booking option at the Blade website — a service
that has not been widely available in the seed industry. “Our goal is to make
our seed as accessible as possible,” he said. Seed will begin shipping as
early as January 2009, ahead of spring plantings.

Growers can find more information about these products or book seed at

About Ceres

Ceres, Inc. is a leading developer and marketer of high-yielding energy
crops that can be planted as raw materials for cellulosic ethanol production
and biopower. Its development efforts cover switchgrass, sorghum, miscanthus,
energycane and short-rotation woody crops. The plant breeding and
biotechnology company markets its switchgrass seed and sorghum seed under its
Blade Energy Crops brand. Ceres holds one of the world’s largest proprietary
collections of fully sequenced plant genes. The privately held firm also
licenses its technology and traits to other organizations.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: