The Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) ethanol plant in Galva, Iowa, has contracted approximately 65,000 acres of Enogen corn in 2013. The alpha amylase in the corn cuts purchased enzyme costs for the ethanol plant, and reduces plant energy costs.
Jim Peterson’s corn contains a magic ingredient: alpha amylase. This ethanol-fermenting enzyme arrives at the plant on the cob, along with the starch for brewing ethanol, as part of Syngenta Enogen corn hybrids.
Peterson and some neighbors earn a 40¢/bu. premium for these double-duty kernels to rewards his efforts to produce this new identity-preserved crop for the Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) plant in Galva, Iowa.
"The Enogen hybrids we grow replace the alpha amylase enzyme while effectively increasing the plant’s fermenter," says Alan Bennett, a local Enogen grower and QCCP board member.
"These hybrids have better viscosity when blended with No. 2 yellow corn during processing so the plant needs less energy. That'll make a huge difference in energy savings for the plant. While the plant has savings, growers earn a 40¢/bu. premium." Bennett saw the benefits of a production trial at QCCP and commercially grew an Enogen hybrid in 2012 on 161 strip-tilled acres.
"If the plant makes more profit, it’s good for all of the guys who deliver corn, not just the guys who grow Enogen," says Jim Peterson, another Galva-area grower. "If we didn't have ethanol plants, the corn market could really drop."
The ethanol plant pays premiums to compensate growers for the enzyme being delivered in the Enogen grain, and also for the required stewardship, such as the 30-ft. border of a similar non-Enogen hybrid around each field. Because Peterson planted nearly 5,000 acres of Enogen hybrids in 2012, "we devoted one planter to the border rows on each field and the other planters did the Enogen hybrids," he says.
During the growing season, "there was third-party verification," explains Bennett. "I had an hour-long phone interview. I was asked what was planted in fields next to my fields and what I did with the extra seed." He buried the remaining half bag in a field planted with Enogen hybrids.
"We want growers to bring more than half a bag back to us and we'll credit them for opened bags," says Dave Heeren, an Akron, Iowa, grower and Syngenta seed dealer. "The online contracting went well," Bennett says. "I could call Todd Axtell when I had questions. Stewardship was also verified online."