Biofuels company Ceres will be partnering with the University of Georgia to develop new seed varieties of high-yielding switchgrass along with improved crop management techniques for southern states, the company announced.
Switchgrass can reach yields of six to 10 dry tons or more in the Southeast, where farm equipment can be used to work long into the season. Switchgrass is considered an ideal feedstock material for next-generation biofuels and biopower, Ceres - which also develops sorghum, miscanthus, energycane and short-rotation woody crops - said in a release.
"This project allows us to expand our internal and collaborative plant breeding activities in a region where we believe the industry will have a strong presence," said Ceres plant breeding director Jeff Gwyn.
University of Georgia researchers already have at their disposal a well-regarded collection of switchgrass breeding materials and germplasm - the precursors of commercial seed varieties, Ceres said.
Field researchers will evaluate cropping practices in the Southeast, adapting developments made by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, with which Ceres has a long-term product development collaboration.