Conestoga Energy agrees to use Enogen corn at second plant

By Holly Jessen | October 24, 2013

The results of a three-month technology trial testing Enogen corn use at Bonanza BioEnergy LLC were enough to convince Conestoga Energy Partners LLC to sign a second commercial agreement to use Syngenta’s corn with enzymes built right into it at two of the three plants it manages and operates. The company recently announced that Arkalon Ethanol LLC will begin using Enogen corn following the 2014 corn harvest.

Enogen corn, which contains alpha amylase enzyme in the corn kernel, eliminates the need for a separate liquid enzyme product. In plant trials at Bonanza BioEnergy, Enogen corn had a big impact on viscosity. “It really thins the product out so you are able to add more grain solids into it,” Tom Willis, CEO of Conestoga Energy Partners told Ethanol Producer Magazine. Other impacts included lowered water and energy use.

Following the previous technology trial, Bonanza BioEnergy in Garden City, Kan., will begin using Enogen corn for ethanol production after this year’s harvest. Syngenta and Conestoga are currently working together to identify corn producers in the area surrounding Arkalon Ethanol in the Liberal, Kan., area. Contracting with area farmers is a team effort between ethanol plant staff and Syngenta. “They certainly help support those efforts pretty extensively,” Willis said.

Conestoga Energy already contracts directly with a certain amount of corn farmers and adding Enogen corn to its feedstock will increase that, giving the company more exposure to area producers. “I believe that your grain is always a little better quality when you get it straight off the farm,” he said. Spending more money locally, rather than out of state, also fits in well with the company mission statement. “Some of that value stays in the community,” he said.

Although the process of contracting with local corn farmers has just started, it does seem to be going well, Willis said. Producers will be paid an average premium of 40 cents per bushel for growing Enogen corn for the ethanol plant.

David Witherspoon, head of renewable fuels for Syngenta, said in a prepared statement that the company was confident that Enogen technology has the potential to add a lot of value to the operation of ethanol plants like Arkalon Ethanol.  “This is a great opportunity for Arkalon and local farmers to add value to their operations and their communities,” he said. “In our research, we’ve seen no yield drag between Syngenta hybrids with the Enogen trait and commercial hybrids of the same isoline without the trait, so the premium paid to the grower is a true premium and can really make a difference in their bottom line.”