Osage Bio Energy launches barley contest

By Susanne Retka Schill | October 06, 2008
Web exclusive posted Oct. 31, 2008 at 9:19 a.m. CST

Osage Bio Energy LLC has launched the Barley Bin Builder Yield Contest in an effort to increase farmer interest in growing winter barley for ethanol production.

The top entry from a seven-state region will win a flexible-fuel pickup truck. Each state winner will receive $1,000; second and third place winners will receive $750 and $500, respectively.

The contest is cosponsored by Osage Bio Energy, Perdue AgriBusiness and Virginia Farm Bureau, who are working with state grain organizations and extension services to promote the contest. Farmers in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina are eligible to enter the Barley Bin Builder Yield Contest.

"The Barley Bin Builder Yield Contest will reward high-yielding farmers in the region who help ramp up the barley production that Osage Bio Energy will need starting with the 2010 crop season, as we bring our facilities into production in 2010," said Joel Stone, chief operating officer of Osage Bio Energy. "The contest also allows farmers to demonstrate effective crop and soil management capabilities. We hope that regional farmers will share our goal of developing high-producing barley crops as we build the barley market in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic."

"We have the potential to reach barley yields in excess of 120 bushels per acre," said Wade Thomason, Virginia Tech extension grain specialist. "The Barley Bin Builder Yield Contest gives us a great opportunity to investigate the full potential for high-yielding barley under good management conditions."

In early October Osage Bio Energy broke ground on its first 55 MMgy ethanol plant in Hopewell, Va. Other plants are being developed in Carlisle, S.C., and Chase City, Va., with a fourth location nearing finalization. Osage Bio Energy is a sister company to Osage Inc., a veteran ethanol marketer in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Earlier this year Osage Bio Energy received a $300 million equity investment from First Reserve Corp. to help fund the construction of the four plants.

Barley is expected to fit well into the regions' cropping system as a winter crop offering an advantage to double-cropped soybeans. "Double-cropped soybeans planted in late May to early June after the barley harvest provides a clear timing advantage for soybeans," said Bryan Taliaferro, president of Virginia Identity Preserved Grains LLC. "There's an expected yield drag with later planted double-cropped soybeans. Being able to plant soybeans early in June behind barley eliminates or greatly reduces the yield loss on soybeans while still offering barley as a cash crop. The barley yield contest will show us the yield potential of barley as a cash crop. Its potential is especially important since we will have a market with the Osage Bio Energy project. I think that a lot of farmers will want to take advantage of barley as a part of their cropping system."

Ethanol Producer Magazine recently covered the development of winter barley in the Southeast. Click here to read Beefing Up Barley.