The Buzz

Tough times for ethanol hit close to home.

The Gateway Ethanol plant in Pratt closed in late February; some say for good and others say for the short term.

The Wichita Eagle reports that Gateway Ethanol was beset by problems from the beginning. It opened six months late and finally began making ethanol when corn prices had reached nearly $5 per bushel and ethanol prices had dropped significantly…

  • Yet, Dave Vander Griend, chief executive officer of ICM, the Colwich-based ethanol plant company, says many Kansas plants are operating at a profit. The Conestoga Energy plant in Liberal, for example, is handling debt service, paying bills and putting money in the bank, according to the Eagle…
  • Meanwhile, Cargill has suspended development of a $200 million ethanol plant near Topeka, the company announced in late February. "The economics are not at a point where we see fit to move forward," says Bill Brady, spokesman for Cargill…
  • Cargill's subsidiary, Emerald Renewable Energy, proposed the plant last year on a 300-acre site northwest of Topeka. The plant was to produce 100 million gallons of ethanol per year…
  • Meanwhile, a proposed biofuel plant near Hiawatha that would have had an ethanol and biodiesel plant has been scrapped. We heard last week at the Commodity Classic that water rights had not been procured for that plant…
  • When Tyson Foods announced it was closing down a good majority of the beef packing plant in Emporia in January, one of the factors cited was "the increase in demand for corn due to ethanol," which made cattle-feeding and consequently, beef slaughter, unprofitable…
  • I'm skeptical of that notion, but everything now seems to be blamed on ethanol: rising fuel prices, increased input prices, starving people all over the world. I'm waiting for the U.S. Department of Defense to attribute to ethanol its rationale for awarding a refueling tanker contract to a European manufacturer instead of Boeing…
  • Hey, how about some good news. Abengoa Bio-Energy, St. Louis, plans to use sorghum as the main grain ingredient in its grain/cellulose hybrid plant it will build near Hugoton. It will be the second Kansas plant that uses primarily grain sorghum – White Energy's ethanol plant in Russell also uses grain sorghum…
  • Finally, from the Hays Daily News comes an update about a new virus transmitted to wheat by the wheat curl mite. Triticum mosaic virus, or TriMV, acts like wheat streak mosaic and, when the two viruses converge on the plant, the plant quickly dies…
  • TriMV was first discovered by K-State plant pathologist Dallas Seifers two years ago. Thus far, no resistant wheat varieties have been discovered. Generally, destroying volunteer wheat is the best method of keeping wheat curl mites from spreading…
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