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Switchgrass Breeding at SDSU Gets Boost

Ceres will sponsor research to develop higher yielding, more dense grass for Northern Plains cellulosic ethanol production.

Ceres, Inc. - a Thousand Oakes, Calif, company that bills itself as the "energy crop company - is sponsoring research at South Dakota State University to develop new switchgrass varieties for the northern Great Plains.

Arvid Boe, SDSU plant breeder, will lead field and greenhouse research.

"This joint product development program allows us to expand our existing switchgrass breeding efforts for what we believe will be an important biofuel production region," says Peter Mascia, Ceres vice president of product development. The company also recently announced a partnership with Texas A and M University to develop new high-biomass sorghum hybrids for cellulosic ethanol production.

Ceres contends to be competitive and sustainable, the biofuels industry will need denser, higher yielding crops to make transporting the crops to refineries cost effective.

Boe, a long-time grass plant breeder, says he believes switchgrass could be competitive with conventional energy crops, especially on the semi-arid land of South Dakota and Nebraska.

"Switchgrass is tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions and, compared with many other perennial grasses and conventional crop plants, it produces relatively large amounts of biomass under both good and poor growing conditions."

Learn more about Ceres at www.ceres.net.

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