The fields of the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga., have become a proving ground of sorts for crops that have the potential to be converted into energy and feed sources.

While there is still much work to be done, especially in the area of establishing markets, some of these energy crops are showing promise for Georgia and the Southeast.

While much of the biofuel focus has been on corn in recent years, switchgrass is a crop that appears to be gaining favor with some growers.

“The USDA conducted a study on which crop in the United States sequesters the most carbon, and switchgrass came out No. 1,” says Frank Hardimon, director of sales for Blade Energy Crops/Ceres.

Switchgrass is a perennial crop, he says. “It can last at least 10 years in your field, and it’s a low-input crop. It’ll die back towards the fall of the year. It takes all of the nutrients it has received throughout the season, and the carbon, and it sequesters that back into the soil profile,” he says.

 The Blade Energy Crops product line includes the world's first switchgrass varieties developed specifically for bioenergy production — EG 1101 and EG 1102. These varieties have shown double-digit increases over similarly adapted cultivars in trials, as well as improved vigor/establishment.

“Usually, a grower will get about 30 percent of maximum biomass in the first year. Then, you’ll get 75 to 80 percent in the second year. By the third year, you should have reached maximum