SG Biofuels today announced that it has identified multiple strains of cold tolerant Jatropha capable of thriving in climates outside the crop’s traditional subtropical habitat.
The strains are included among thousands of variations of Jatropha curcas the firm has collected from a range of climates and geographies around the world as part of its Genetic Resource Center, the company’s collection of Jatropha genetic material and reputed to be the world’s largest.
The strains were collected from various sites in Central America at elevations ranging from 1600 meters (5,200 feet) to over 1800 meters (about 6,000 feet), where the average daily low temperature between December and February are typically around 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and nightly temperatures can fall well below freezing.
Utilizing the strains, the company is proceeding with a breeding program that is a precursor to the development of jatropha as an oil-producing crop in colder climates of the United States. The company is projecting yields of 200-300 gallons of jatropha oil per acre with effective site selection and cultivation processes, well below yields projected elsewhere in jatropha’s checkered history as a biofuels wonder crop.
Nevertheless, the yields are materially superior to the 60 gallons per acre achieved in the US with soybean oil, and SG Biofuels adds that jatropha has lower input costs compared to other biofuels feedstocks, making it both more economically and environmentally sustainable than some feedstocks used in the US.