While overall production of ethanol in the United States was boosted by foreign demand this year, Kansas production likely dropped off a bit due to a drought-ridden corn crop and other factors.
The Associated Press recently reported the overall production for ethanol in the U.S. for 2011 is estimated at 13.8 billion gallons. Foreign sales have added an additional 1 billion gallons of production this year across the country.
Much of the foreign demand has come from Brazil as it deals with a shortfall in the sugar cane crop.
Jere White, executive director of the Kansas Corn Commission and its affiliates, said while Kansas producers likely did take advantage of the overseas demand, he expects production from Kansas’ 11 ethanol plants to be down a bit from the typical 440 million gallons per year they have been producing.
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Abengoa Bioenergy’s recent decision to halt production at its two smallest plants, including one in Colwich, due to depressed market conditions will likely have an effect on Kansas’ overall production numbers this year, White said. A poor corn crop will also have an affect.
“Because of the very tough corn-growing conditions in the state due to the drought, the quality of the corn is such that it wouldn’t produce as much ethanol out of the bushel,” White said. “Because of that, I expect some plants will see a decrease in total output.”
Angie Richardson, production manager with Bonanza Bioenergy in Garden City, said her plant will produce about 55 million gallons of ethanol this year — which is steady with previous years’ production levels — with the vast majority of ethanol going to Brazil. She acknowledged the affect of the drought, saying that corn is being shipped in to feed the plant.
Mike Chisam, president of Kansas Ethanol LLC in Lyons, said his plant is producing about 60 million gallons a year — a number that has stayed steady over the past several years. Chisam, though, said ethanol produced at his plant is sold only domestically.