• biofuel conversion;
  • digestibility;
  • ethanol production;
  • fiber analysis;
  • in vitro gas production;
  • lignin;
  • Sorghum bicolor ;
  • sweet sorghum bagasse


Sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) is widely recognized as a highly promising biomass energy crop with particular potential to complement sugarcane production in diversified cropping systems. Agronomic assessments have led to identification of four cultivars well suited for such sugarcane-based production systems in southern Louisiana. Sweet sorghum biofuel production systems are currently being developed, and research producing large sample numbers requiring ethanol yield assessment is anticipated. Fiber analysis approaches developed for forage evaluation appear to be useful for screening such large numbers of samples for relative ethanol yield. Chemical composition, forage fiber characteristics, digestibility, and ethanol production of sweet sorghum bagasse from the four cultivars were assessed. Measures of detergent fiber, lignin, and digestibility were highly correlated with ethanol production (P < 0.01). The best linear regression models accounted for about 80% of the variation among cultivars in ethanol production. Bagasse from the cultivar Dale produced more ethanol per gram of material than any of the other cultivars. This superior ethanol production was apparently associated with less lignin in stems of Dale. Forage evaluation measures including detergent fiber analyses, in vitro digestibility, and an in vitro gas production technique successfully identified the cultivar superior in ethanol yield indicating their usefulness for screening sweet sorghum samples for potential ethanol production in research programs generating large sample numbers from evaluations of germ plasm or agronomic treatments. These screening procedures reduce time and expense of alternatives such as hexose sugar assessment for calculating theoretical ethanol yield.