By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
The fall planting of energy beets by Patriot Bioenergy Corporation in Whitley County is complete.
The activity was during field trials conducted by Patriot, who is managing demonstration trials this fall as part of the final steps toward commercial-scale production of Betaseed Energy Beets.
Patriot noted the fall 2012 planting will provide data throughout this winter and next spring on the viability of the feedstock for the production of energy beets
“Our fall planting in Whitley has been completed by the Oct. 1 deadline we set, and beets are already out of the ground. We have planted at two locations with the Round-up Ready energy beets and are already seeing significant growth. The approval of the Round-up Ready beets gives us a great boost as we move forward,” said Patriot’s CEO Roger Ford in an email Wednesday.
The U. S. Department of Agriculture approved the Round-up Ready energy beets for commercial use in July. Patriot has more than 20 acres of energy beets growing in fields in Whitley County, as well as fields in Pike County.
In a news release from Patriot’s headquarters in Pikeville, their Director of Agriculture Operations, Terry Saylor said, “We are pleased with progress so far on our fall planting in both Whitley and Pike Counties. The capabilities of the Round-up Ready beets is a key factor that helps us overcome competition from weeds and grasses and will help us as we plant in the spring of 2013.”
Ford added Patriot is already looking forward to next spring, and what the results could bring.
“We are now looking at how we continue to build out the agriculture piece, including reviewing options for establishing a farmers co-operative sometime in the next few months, so we can hopefully expand next year. All in all, we are pleased with the progress and the support from Judge White and Mayor Harrison and everyone in Whitley County for our efforts.”
Several agreements are presently being worked on by Patriot to move feedstock production forward, increasing the production to enable the company to begin sale of livestock feed from beet production.
On Sept. 6, Patriot announced it will construct an ethanol plant in Williamsburg that is expected to create more than 100 jobs. The plant would convert energy beets into ethanol within the next 24-28 months.
Ethanol is usually made from corn, which was subsidized by the federal government until recently. Last year, the government stopped issuing corn subsidies, which is leading producers of ethanol to explore using beets and other alternatives to use as an additive in gasoline.