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Kudzu [Pueraria montana (Lour.) Merr. Variety lobata]: A new source of carbohydrate for bioethanol production

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We determined the amount of standing biomass of kudzu (Pueraria montana var lobata) in naturally infested fields in Maryland and Alabama, USA. At each site, we evaluated the carbohydrate content of roots, stems, and leaves. For a third site from Georgia, we evaluated the carbohydrate content of kudzu roots of varying diameters. Belowground biomass in Alabama exceeded 13 t ha-1, and contained an average of 37% fermentable carbohydrates (sucrose, glucose, and starch). Roots from Georgia of all size classes contained over 60% fermentable carbohydrates. Biomass and carbohydrate levels in roots from Maryland were low compared to plants growing in Alabama and Georgia, producing 5 t ha-1 of roots with 20% non-structural carbohydrate. Stems from Alabama and Maryland contained 1-3% carbohydrates. Based on the yield and carbohydrate content, we estimate wild kudzu stands in Alabama and Georgia could produce 5-10 t ha-1 of carbohydrate, which would rival carbohydrate production from maize and sugar cane fields. If economical harvesting and processing techniques could be developed, the kudzu infesting North America has the potential to supplement existing bioethanol feedstocks, which could be of significance to the rural economy of the southeastern USA.
Sage, Rowan F. , Coiner, Heather A. , Way, Danielle A. , Runion, G. Brett , Prior, Stephen A. , Torbert, H. Allen , Sicher, Richard , Ziska, Lewis
Includes references
Biomass and bioenergy 2009 Jan., v. 33, no. 1
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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