Syngenta Corn Trait Offers Ethanol Efficiency

A new corn trait from Syngenta can offer increased efficiency for ethanol plants and premiums for farmers who grow it.

Enogen corn
was specifically developed for ethanol production and just fully approved by USDA in February 2011. According to David Witherspoon with Syngenta, Enogen contains alpha amylase, one of the primary enzymes used in ethanol production. “So when this corn goes to an ethanol plant, their enzymes are delivered in the corn,” he said during an interview at the 2012 Farm Progress Show.

“It helps them increase alcohol production and because it works on a broad pH and temperature range, they don’t have to use as much ammonia, or sulfuric acid or heat,” Witherspoon said. “So they get more alcohol and use less energy.”

It took about 15 years for Syngenta to get Enogen to market and this is the first year the corn trait has been grown commercially. “We have two ethanol plants signed as customers,” said Witherspoon. “We have also tested in one other plant we anticipate will sign in the next 2-3 weeks.”

The plants contract with farmers to grow the Enogen corn. “We will work to facilitate the contract and put a full time person in the field to make sure they understand the hybrids and how the contracts work,” said Witherspoon.

Mike Missman of Woden, Iowa is a seed dealer and a farmer who planted Enogen corn this year, following the program regarding the use of the seed. “The stewardship rules are strict but they’re easy to follow,” said Missman. “You just don’t want that seed to go into another field.” Missman is contracting this year with Syngenta for a trial with a local ethanol plant.

One of the plants testing Enogen is Golden Grain Energy of Mason City, Iowa and Witherspoon says they toured that plant with the Syngenta global corn team during Farm Progress Show last week. “We really want the global group to understand the importance of the RFS to farmers, it actually has an international effect,” he said. “Ethanol has actually driven profitability worldwide in corn in places where it’s not been profitable.”

Listen to my interview with Witherspoon and Missman from Farm Progress Show to learn more about Enogen: Syngenta Enogen Corn interview

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