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Crop Science Abstract -

Potential of Breeding for Ethanol Fuel in Sugarbeet1


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 24 No. 2, p. 255-257
    Received: July 12, 1982

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  1. Devon L. Doney and
  2. J. Clair Theurer2



Sugarbeet (Beta vulgaris L.) has been considered as a prime candidate for ethanol fuel production. Breeding for ethanol fuel might be quite different than breeding for sucrose crystallization. Quality (high sucrose concentration and low amino N, sodium, and K concentration), which is essential for sucrose crystallization, is unimportant in the fermentation process. Increases in total sugar production might be more easily and rapidly achieved if selection were for fermentable sugars rather than for sucrose crystallization. This research was undertaken to evaluate the potential of breeding for ethanol fuel production in sugarbeet. Selections were made in a genetically broadbase population developed from the world collection of sugarbeet maintained at Ames, Iowa. One new polycross selection, g241, made for total fermentable sugar yield, ignoring quality factors, produced as much or more fermentable sugar (potential alcohol) a widely grown commercial sugarbeet hybrid, Mono-Hy D2. This new population was low in sucrose concentration and high in impurities (amino N, sodium, and K), which would make it unacceptable for sucrose crystallization but promising as germplasm for the development of beets for ethanol fuel. This high fermentable sugar yield, achieved with minimal breeding effort in a highly heterozygous population, suggests that continued progress is possible. Higher fermentable sugar yields must, however, be sufficient to offset the cost of handling the additional root yields to be economically practical.

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