Yield Results and Stability Analysis from the Sorghum Regional Biomass Feedstock Trial
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Sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] is one of four herbaceous dedicated bioenergy crops the U.S. Department of Energy identified as critical to annually produce one billion tons of dry biomass. Of these four crops, sorghum is unique as it is a drought-tolerant, annual crop established from seed that is readily tractable to genetic improvement. The purpose of this study was to assess the yield potential and stability of sorghums grown across diverse production environments in the USA. For this study, six sorghum genotypes (one cultivar, five hybrids) were grown in yield trials in seven locations in six states for 5 years (2008-2012). Variation in dry and fresh yield was attributable to not only genotypes, but also to the effects of year, location, and year location. Even with the highest yielding genotype, environmental conditions were a major factor in determining the yield in a given year. This variability affects the consistency of the biomass supply for ethanol production. In general, the southeastern USA had the highest mean yields for fresh weight and dry weight, indicating that this area may be the most reliable for biomass production. A significant variation was detected among genotypes for fresh weight, dry weight, moisture content, and brix, revealing that sufficient variation within sorghum exists for continued improvement and that certain hybrids are more tractable for biomass/bioenergy production. With dedicated bioenergy sorghum germplasm and proper production environments, sorghum will be a valuable tool in the goal of the sustainable production of one billion tons of dry biomass each year in the USA. 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York.