Kentucky company to grow herbicide-resistant energy beet hybrid

By Holly Jessen | September 06, 2012

Patriot Bioenergy Corp. announced that it will begin field trials of recently deregulated Roundup Ready energy beets at a Sept. 6 press conference in Williamsburg, Ky.—the same city where the company hopes to build its first ethanol plant.

The company, which is working to build three energy beet-to-ethanol production plants in Kentucky, plans to conduct a 10-acre field trial with herbicide-resistant energy beets.It will be the first to plant the Roundup Ready energy beets in Kentucky, said Roger Ford, Patriot Bioenergy CEO.

In addition to revealing plans for the field trial, Patriot Bioenergy signed letters of intent with the city of Williamsburg and Whitley County, as a way to show its commitment to building the facility there—pending completion of funding and needed infrastructure. The company plans to first build a 4 MMgy energy beet and waste sugar ethanol plant in Williamsburg, followed by a 4 MMgy plant in Columbia, Ky., and a 2 MMgy facility in Pikeville.

Energy beets planted in the spring were recently shipped for evaluation for sugar and ethanol yield.  The company is working with engineer Wes Kor and Bill Gibbons of South Dakota State University and is waiting for certification that it is a viable energy crop feedstock, Ford said.

In addition, Patriot Bioenergy will collaborate with the University of the Cumberlands, also located in Williamsburg. The research agreement involves the use of 100 acres of post coal mining land, experimenting with growing cellulosic feedstocks such as grasses or woody biomass, he said.