Why Memphis is the BBQ Capital of the World

There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to the U.S city with the best barbeque food it has to be Memphis. Sure, there’s great barbecue all over the US, but the home of Blues and Rock & Roll is also the home of some seriously good barbecue techniques, particularly when it comes to cooking pork. From traditional to modern ways of cooking meat, Memphis has a long history of covering its bases and consistently serving up some of the best food in the world. We take a look at why people just can’t get enough of the finger licking greatness that comes from this awesome city. 

It’s all in the technique

From flavoring agents to picking the right wood for the fire, there is so much more to a Memphis style barbecue than simply slapping some meat on the grill. It’s all down to the preparation, which can take weeks. Before the barbecue is even lit, the meat is smoked to ensure a great flavor when it is cooked. Smoked pork is the meat of choice for most barbecues in Memphis, and has been since at least 1540 when Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto brought the first herd of pigs to the area.

Best known for its dry barbecue, the rubs used in Memphis are packed with flavors such as garlic, paprika, onion, and cumin and are ideal for creating super tender meat. The sauces also have their own distinctive flavors, usually made from a base of tomatoes and vinegar along with a combination of spices, which vary from chef to chef, but usually result in a tangy, sweet sauce that is poured all over pulled pork or dry ribs.

World-renowned restaurants

Putting the preparation into action, the restaurants in Memphis have been super busy making sure that the city is firmly in place on the barbecue map.

While there are plenty of other culinary delights to explore in Memphis, its barbecue restaurants are some of the best in the world. Of course, ordering a Memphis barbecue sandwich should be high on your list of priorities if you ever visit, but don’t forget about the amazing array of side dishes that accompany it, like as mac ‘n’ cheese, potato salads, southern-style veggies, and slaw.

One place that delivers all of these Memphian delights and much more is Coletta’s Restaurant, which has been serving Memphis since the 1920s. Coletta’s Restaurant claims to have invented the original barbecue pizza and was regularly frequented by Elvis. Visitors can even sit in his favorite spot and have their photo taken as a souvenir.

The Cozy Corner is another great spot for everything from ribs to pulled pork, and bologna sausage to Cornish hen, all cooked to perfection. Possibly the best-known barbecue joint in town is Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, which is home to some of the best dry grilled ribs and beef brisket around. For some authentic local food, check out The Bar-B-Q Shop where the Dancing Pigs Barbecue sauce will quickly become your new favorite thing!   

Beats the competition

Although the local restaurants may find themselves competing with each other, there is a much bigger competition that takes place in Memphis every year. The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is the biggest of its kind and is held in May, pulling in around 100,000 people along with over 250 competition teams to compete for the highly coveted top spot.

Nearby towns also find themselves competing with Memphis for the title of best barbecue. While many people may think of Nashville as being the nearest rival to Memphis when it comes to music and barbecue, it is always Memphis that wins out. After all, Nashville country music stars are known for sticking around the home of blues to indulge in the pulled pork and ribs combos. Even poker legend Chris Moneymaker prefers Memphis barbecues over those from his hometown Nashville and regularly treats his fellow players to a Memphis style grill when summertime rolls around.

So, there you have it. There is no place like Memphis when it comes to barbecue perfection. Just make sure you leave some for the rest of us!




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5 Things to Think About Before Building an Outdoor Kitchen

5 Things to Think About Before Building an Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen has become a popular way to turn the yard into a functional and fashionable living space. Stepping beyond the traditional patio grills, outdoor kitchens are oftentimes a more extensive home improvement than homeowners initially anticipated. When homeowners consider these factors before they start building, they can be more satisfied with the end result.

Choose the Right Location

Selecting a good spot for the kitchen calls many issues into play that people must decide based on their own needs. These include:

  • access to the outdoor kitchen from inside the house
  • proximity to necessary services, like heat or electricity
  • safety of the people on the property while using the kitchen
  • the best position in the yard related to weather
  • off-season considerations, like snow or wind

People should think about which place in the yard will be best for the way they want to use the outdoor kitchen, and determine if they need to make any changes to the property to accommodate it.

Acquire the Best Materials

The materials used for the project have the potential to dramatically increase the overall budget. The kinds of cabinetry, countertops, backsplash, and flooring that people choose might not vary much from the materials they use for an inside kitchen. The major difference is that people have to factor in the effects of weather in the long-term durability of the material. Homeowners who want to put in an outdoor kitchen with a lot of year-round rain may need to avoid porous surfaces like marble, which could stain easily. Similarly, well-built cabinetry with colors less likely to show dirt or stains will be simpler to maintain over time.

Understand What Features Work Best

Building an outdoor kitchen is a dream come true for a lot of homeowners, and letting that dream take flight is a sensible move. People really need to understand precisely what they expect from an outdoor kitchen before they start drawing up designs or hiring contractors. Homeowners can walk through the motions of using an outdoor kitchen. This may open up ideas for added features they never considered, like a built-in barbecue smoker, sink for food preparation and cleaning, or plenty of seating for entertainment. Even if the budget will not accommodate all these wishes, knowing the extent of what they want will help people to focus their needs into a plan that will have long-term value.

Picking the Right Services

When people first start imagining this kind of home improvement, they might expect it to look like a souped-up barbecue grill. Homeowners who have a little more money to invest can turn the outdoor kitchen into so much more. Creating a functional outdoor living space often requires some services that are easily available inside, like electricity, water, and a source of fuel for heat. People who are tired of filling up propane tanks at the store and lugging them home might consider adding a gas line.

Running electricity out to the kitchen allows for lighting and power needed to run appliances like a fridge or blender. Having a sink makes preparing food to cook that much easier. Homeowners may need to decide if they want to have hot water, or just a cold water line. These services usually cost extra, and may incur greater charges for kitchens farther away from the home.

Always Consider Safety

Knowing that everyone who uses the outdoor kitchen or who is on the property while it is used will be safe is a homeowner’s primary goal. Grills that run on propane are not meant to be run in an enclosed space because of their potentially deadly emissions. This makes ventilation, even in an open space, very important. An outdoor kitchen that is fairly surrounded needs to provide an alternate source for the byproducts of the fuel burning to escape into the atmosphere. For cooking equipment that relies on an open flame, such as a barbecue pit or wood-fired oven, there should be more than one way to escape the fire if it spreads. A little extra care in the planning could help people avoid expensive renovations down the road.

An outdoor kitchen could provide homeowners with the luxurious living space they crave. By looking at these considerations first, people can avoid common pitfalls and enjoy the kitchen that much more.

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Test out the knives/cutlery

America’s Test Kitchen has let it be know that Victorinox is the best knife in the land.  We have another set of experts with their views. Check out this review of the knives from these experts. Test out the knives/cutlery

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Tips And Tricks To Spice Up Your Campfire Barbecue

Tips And Tricks To Spice Up Your Campfire Barbecue

Over 40 million people embark on a camping trip of some type every year. Whether that involves pitching a tent or touring the country in an RV, they’ve all got to eat. Pulling out the grill or starting the campfire is part of the old-fashioned camping fun, but no one wants the same tired meal every time. Get creative and use a little imagination to add a new, fun twist to barbecue campfire dishes for a memorable meal.

Pull out the spices

Consider adding spices to the dish to create a new, exciting level to existing dishes. Experiment with star anise, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom for a touch of zest to pork or beef. Simply brush the meat with the spice before adding the barbecue sauce, or marinade meat in a mixture of spices throughout the day. Get creative in considering other spices that add zest to your campfire meal, such as onion, cracked pepper, cloves, or red pepper flakes. Create meals or even trail jerky with personal spice combination favorites.

Using spice like a pro

The best way to use spice is to try it at home first. Red pepper flakes will add an extra kick to barbecued food, but it is too strong for some people. Onion powder adds a bittersweet taste, but some people prefer to add fresh sweet onions to foods such as barbecue burgers. The talent necessary to create enticing meals begins with a bit of experimentation. Read recipes and try out a few before heading to camp to find barbecue favorites. The secret to using spice is to start with a small amount, then adjust to taste. 

Spice that travels with you

It is typically safe to transfer a small amount of spice into a separate container for camping purposes. However, using zip-top bags or plastic wrap for spices such as salt and pepper will help eliminate spills. Store the stash away from the campfire, as heat makes some spices less potent. If possible, season meats before bringing them to the campsite; otherwise, bringing a small amount for each meal is fine. 

Camping is one of America’s favorite past times. There is always a place to go for simple outdoor fun, whether with a tent or at a glamping campground. Bringing along the spice adds an extra kick to whatever is being roasted over the campfire.


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How an Emotional Support Animal Improves Your Life Quality?

How an Emotional Support Animal
Improves Your Life Quality?
Animals bring joy and love to our life; there is no denying that. However, if you need an animal for
treatment purposes, then believe us this s the best advice you ever got. Following, we are going to point
out some pleasantries that come along with an animal, and why you should feel happy about it,
Helps You Fight Anxiety
If you suffer from constant depression, Anxiety, or another such issue, having an emotional support
animal can help you fight off it. According to a study, petting a toy doesn’t help your mental state like
petting an actual animal, especially dogs, cats, or other such animals.
Spending time with such animals controls the circulation of the stress hormone, cortisol. They help you to
maintain your composure in stressful situations as they keep the cortisol levels low, and give you a better
sense of mental stability.
Improves Your Mood
There is no doubt that animals lift your spirit. Numerous studies believe animals help you to fight off
depressive symptoms. However, more research is needed to expand the argument but having a pet is
known to improve the quality of long, for quite a long time.
Helps You Become a Human Magnet
Having a pet makes you more appealing to other people. They promote social interaction. You will
receive a more verbal response from strangers who pass by. People will become more receptive as your
pet gets friendly, and so on.
The best part is, when you pet, talk or stroke your dog for at least three minutes, it improves the
circulation of oxytocin in your body. This is known as the love hormone, and it improves your bonding
and feeling in general.
Improves Your Health
Animal Love is no less than a drug. It doesn’t matter how much you have swoon around animals; petting
one can love your heart rate and blood levels. Moreover, they make you feel better emotionally and
boosts your immune system. This grants you a better chance to fight pathogens as petting a body boosts the levels of antibodies in
your system. This gives you a better chance to fight against pathogens and other such issues.
Mental Health Benefits
There are many benefits of having an emotional support animal beside you all the time. We are going to
discuss a few of these benefits below:

 Improves your social skills

 Improves Your Self Confidence
 You feel comfortable and Safe
 Boosts your Motivation
 Helps to fight off your diagnosed issues

The story doesn’t end here. With the great success, physicians now feel more comfortable to recommend
this therapy to a lot of other mental issues with examples like:

 Aerophobia
 Agoraphobia
 Stress-Induced Situations

 Social Shyness

 Mild to severe Anxiety

 General Anxiety Disorder

The benefits of having an ESA doesn’t stop at your mental health. It goes beyond that and makes a
positive impact on our lives. If you are moved by everything we have said here, and want to try out an
emotional support animal, then you can apply after you click here

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Delicious And Healthy: Why Good Quality Meat Is Good For You

Delicious And Healthy: Why Good Quality Meat Is Good For You

Barbecuing has always been a sociable, tasty way to enjoy food, but did you know it could also be good for your health?  A consumer poll by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association found that nearly a third of Americans now plan to use their grill or smoker more often, turning barbecuing into a year-round meal occasion. This is good news for your health because grilling is one of the healthiest ways to cook, and meat is packed with protein, an essential building block for the body, as well as other important minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium.  When people think of barbecued meat, they often think of delicious cuts of beef, but really any good quality meat should be a healthy and tasty component of your diet.

Building strong bodies

As the CDC reports that over a third of Americans are obese, it’s arguably never been more important to establish a well-balanced diet. While people are generally clued up on the importance of fruit and vegetables and the need to moderate sugar intake, there is perhaps less knowledge on the importance of protein.  Protein is essential for muscle maintenance, strong bones, and hair, skin and nail growth. There are many other reasons to include protein in your diet too, in order to ensure a healthy, strong body.  White meat poultry, pork tenderloin, and lean beef are great sources of protein and are delicious with a simple glaze too.  Meat is also an excellent source of iron, which aids proper blood circulation, and other vitamins and minerals which boost your immune system and contribute to overall good health.

Tasty treats

Another good reason to include good quality meat in your diet is simply that it’s delicious! Stuck in a rut with the usual meat options? Why not shake things up? Professional chefs polled for The National Restaurant Association’s annual survey predicted that the top food trend of 2018 would be new cuts of meat; from Vegas Strip Steak to Merlot cut, there’s never been a better time to try something new and impress your friends and family with your barbecue trendiness!

Overall it’s clear to see why good quality meat deserves a place on your dinner plate.  Rich in protein, iron and other nutrients, it can help to build a strong body. Perhaps just as importantly though, it’s delicious.  Make 2018 the year you discover a new cut, and grill your way to a healthier, happier body.

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Global Grilling Hacks For The Best Barbecue Ever 

Global Grilling Hacks For The Best Barbecue Ever 

The barbecue; could anything be more American? The American barbecue mixes ideas from the Caribbean, Germany, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean to produce unique flavors and cooking styles. While many places around the world consider a barbeque to be the act of building a charcoal fire, whacking some meat on the grill and burning the outside whilst leaving the inside raw, the United States takes things to another level.

Regional differences rule the roost

Electric Smoker Guy

The barbecue is the ultimate American dish because it is so hard to pin down. Just like America is made up of a melting pot of cultures from across the globe, so too has the national cooking style been formed. Taking the analogy further what it means to barbecue varies so much from state to state and region to region that you can barely recognize them as supposedly being the same thing. Not only does the difference between grilling and barbecuing need to be considered but also such factors as: Should beef or pork be used? Is the barbecue the realm of cheap and tough meat cooked slowly or expensive premium cuts grilled fast? Should the meat be injection marinaded and rolled in spices or should it have a lightly sweetened sauce? Do you cook it until it is golden brown or should the ends but burnt? Do you have a honey sauce or a vinegar based one? Do you smoke the meat or grill it? The fight goes on and each area of the States is unique; just like the free citizens who make up this country.

Mix it up by trying something new and exotic

While the influence of Turkish and Middle Eastern cooking is obvious to aficionados of grilling the styles of further east are often neglected. With Indian cookery and restaurants increasing in popularity it is time to add some fire to your grill and knock your friends’ socks off. The tandoor is a traditional clay oven used across the Arabian Peninsula, Persia and the Indian Subcontinent but you don’t need one of these wood fired ovens to make tikka and tandoori dishes at home; the secret is in the preparation, not the execution.

Preparation make perfection

It is vital that you prepare your meat in advance. Lamb chops, chicken legs, whole chickens butterflied and even pork kebabs (something you’d struggle to find on any Indian or Pakistani menu) are all perfect choices of meat. With larger and thicker meat (such as a whole chicken) you will need to spatchcock the bird and slice it nearly to the bone every inch or so to increase the surface area. Once you’ve prepared your meat, coat it in a tandoori paste and allow it to rest for half an hour. You may wish to mix in a little red food coloring to get the proper effect. Whilst your meat is soaking up the marinade take some more of your tandoori paste and mix in 1 third paste to 2 thirds natural yogurt. Add a dash of lime and some chopped cilantro then coat your meat with the mix and leave for 2 hours in a fridge to marinade. Cook on a hot grill with the lid down to achieve the perfect tandoori taste.

Cook safely to stay healthy

Remember to wash your hands after handling raw meat. This technique gives plenty of opportunities for less experienced cooks to cross contaminate and cause food poisoning. It is also important to remember that while beef and lamb can be served, rare pork and poultry need to be cooked thoroughly so use a probe to check that they get up to 164F.  

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Science and History of cold smoked meat

The Intriguing Science and History of Cold Smoked Meat

Smoking is back with a bang in the kitchens; or at least this is what the statistics say. According to Amazon, the sale of home smokers have spiked up 200 per cent while the Waitrose kitchenware shop has begun stocking woodchips to meet the new demand of the customers. Charles Spence, the Oxford University professor of Experimental Psychology collaborating with some of the best-known chefs says, “Evolutionarily speaking, fire and smoke signal meat roasting, so we may have been programmed to find them desirable in expectation of what is to come”.  The science of smoke is quite an intriguing one, and more so in cooking now that the cold smoked meats have become such a craze.

The basic concept

Cold smoked meat can last for months on the shelf and it can do so without any refrigeration. In the farms of the western countries, there often exists a “smokehouse.” It is a special building which is dedicated to smoking meat and storing it. Cold smoking enhances the flavor of meat by smoldering wood at a slow fire with very low temperatures. This is called curing the meat. When the meat absorbs the smoke from the wood, it is seasoned with that distinctive smokey flavor that people are go crazy for. Curing also deepens the meat’s color make it all the more inviting. The meat is then hung in a dry environment.

The cured meat forms a pellicle, after which it is cold smoked.  The smoking process takes several days and can even last a month. The temperatures are usually maintained between 70°F to 90°F. So, in cold smoking unlike in hot smoking the meat remains uncooked. The trick is to smoke the meat without producing much heat. This is achieved by placing the meat in an unheated chamber and pumping smoke into it from another chamber.

Therefore, cold smoking is strictly restricted to meats which have already been cured, salted or fermented. But before they are fit to be consumed cold-smoked meats should be cooked until their internal temperature rises to 160°F. They can be eaten grilled, baked, steamed, sautéed or even roasted.

Not a rocket science

Although The National Center for Home Food Preservation advises against cold smoking at home because of the inherent risks, it can still be achieved with the right methods and apparatus. Many experts suggest keeping the meat refrigerated before cold smoking. This gives the meat some delay time to reach 40° when it becomes prone to pathogen attacks. Plus, coating the meat with a thin mustard layer keeps it moistened.

On the other hand, maintaining an ice bowl when cold smoking in the warmer climates makes the process more effective and adds to safety. Charcoal grills are still thought to be more effective for cold smoking at home to keep the pellets lit. After the meat is cold smoked it immediately needs to be cooked at a high temperature or cooled to less than 40°.

In case of the latter, the meat can be zip locked and placed in an ice bath for 45 minutes or so to cool its core down to 37°, while checking the temperature of the bath at regular intervals to maintain the temperature below 40°. The meat then needs to refrigerated or frozen without delay.

If the steps are correctly followed, cold smoking results in a flavorful smoke infused meat. The method of cold smoking is an ancient technique dating back to the ages when it was used to preserve meat through the harsh winters when food became scarce. Cold smoking is a great way to make meats more flavorful right from chicken breasts and pork chops to beef and steaks.

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Hemp has been the answer for 100 years

Hemp can produce paper, clothes, gasoline for cars, ink, so many products and is good for the environment.   I don’t believe in marijuana.  I believe in the other products Hemp can produce.  

We have been a harsh chemical base society because the people who own those companies pay legislatures.  We could have changed our industries to Hemp 30 years ago.  Dupont has paid millions to keep their fabric out front instead of a Hemp based fabric.  To the dismay of our environment and health.

I’m appealing to the millennials coming up that all television is focusing on right now.  The crooks who have kept us on fossil fuels and chemical fabric are trying to indoctrinate the next generations coming up. 

Growing Hemp Crops is available to all Americans.     Its can make unproductive land productive.  We need to re institute our own Mills and produce material from Hemp.  Think about crooks who got a sweet deal sending it to China becoming a thing of the past because the market changed to Hemp Products produced in the United States by US works.

It can happen we just have to change our minds.


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Ethanol – E85 is the answer to our problems

Ethanol is the answer

Switch Grass can change the United States forever.  Ethanol narrative has been manipulated so many times.  Switch Grass makes over 3000 gallons of gas per acre.  It could be grown by the next person with 5 acres or more.  Ethanol can empower the average person to make money.

Legislators are paid to make profit distant from the people.  Switch Grass farming would be available to every person in the United States who owns land.  Why should I plant a crop that takes three years to reach maturity? One of the most exciting characteristics of switchgrass is its potential to turn marginal land into productive land. Most people envision planting switchgrass and other native warm season grasses on marginal or currently unproductive land.

Switchgrass in the South performs quite differently than in the Plains or the Midwest, explains David Bransby, professor of energy crops and bioenergy at Auburn University in Alabama. The variety Alamo, grown widely in the South, grows up to 9 feet tall, yields 7 to 8 tons per acre and tolerates poor soils. Bransby says they’ve concluded that in the South the best time to cut switchgrass is at the end of August or early September, which gives an optimal yield while allowing time for a 20- to 30-inch regrowth before entering dormancy for the winter. The re-growth suppresses winter weeds and provides a canopy to protect new shoots from late spring frosts as well as providing an ideal wildlife habitat.

In Nebraska, Ken Vogel has led the switchgrass research for the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The latest research, which is being reviewed before publication, provides the results of farm-scale trials conducted in cooperation with 10 farmers in Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. The trials were quite realistic, Vogel says. Some farmers had grown switchgrass before, some followed the guidelines verbatim and others made changes in the recommended practices. The average yield over the four production years in the trial was 3.4 tons per acre per year. The two experienced farmers had the best results getting new stands established and maximizing yields. The farm trials helped identify the key management issues that will be of interest to new growers once it becomes a commercial crop. Profitability improves greatly if the grass can be quickly established to allow a first-year cutting and to reach maximum potential yield in the second year. “We can do it on the research plots,” Vogel says, and the experienced farmers in the farm trials did so too, but the average in the farm trials was brought down by those fields that took three years to establish.

Researchers say switchgrass seeding will be a breeze for growers, compared with other biomass crops. Its smooth, shiny seeds make it easy to sow with existing equipment. The plants produce about 500 pounds of seed per acre and only 3 to 4 pounds per acre are needed to seed a new field. Other potential grass crops like prairie cord grass or big bluestem have rough or fluffy seeds that are harder to handle. Their lower seed production rates keep seed costs high. It costs $150 to $200 per acre to plant switchgrass because the crop requires substantial seedbed preparation, Bransby says. In addition, herbicides are used to suppress weed competition in new fields. Nitrogen requirements vary with the variety and the region. Vogel recommends 20 pounds of nitrogen for every ton of dry matter removed. If harvested after a killing frost, the fertilizer can be reduced by one-third to account for the nitrogen the plant stores in its roots for the next year’s growth.

Switchgrass shows promise as a biomass crop for several reasons, David Parrish, crop and soil environmental scientist at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., wrote in his paper “Biology and Agronomy of Switchgrass for Biofuels.” Switchgrass has been used on sites that are difficult to vegetate such as sand dunes and mining sites, and it facilitates the breakdown or removal of soil contaminates such as polychlorinated biphenyls, trinitolulene and herbicides. Switchgrass shows great tolerance to heat, drought and nitrogen stress. Parrish found yields varied greatly across the nation. In Tennesee and Oklahoma, the grass sustained yields of 20 metric tons per hectare (8.3 tons per acre). The highest single year yield topped 36.7 metric tons per hectare (17 tons per acre) in Oklahoma. He concludes that switchgrass varieties can be developed to consistently and sustainably produce 6 tons per acre in areas that receive 27 inches of annual rainfall.

The Bottom Line
For the cellulosic ethanol producer, the big question is how much the feedstock will cost. Bransby went directly to farmers and asked what they needed to be paid for a ton of switchgrass if it yielded 7 tons per acre and was delivered within 50 miles. “They tell me they’d be looking at $60 per ton,” he says. That price could bring Alabama farmers over $100 per acre after paying for variable costs, which he says is better than most crops in the South.

“We think we can produce switchgrass in the Central Plains for $40 to $50 a ton at the farm gate,” Vogel says. Adding transportation costs would net the grower a similar price to what the Alabama farmers could expect to receive. Using a projected ethanol yield of 80 gallons per ton, Vogel figures the feedstock cost would be about 50 cents per gallon, onto which transportation costs and biorefining costs would need to be added. Bransby says it will be critical to increase the ethanol yield per ton of biomass to make cellulosic ethanol economically viable. There is room for improvement, he says. The current estimate of 80 gallons of ethanol per ton of biomass is much lower than the theoretical maximum yield of 200 gallons per ton.

Vogel doesn’t see switchgrass competing with corn and soybean crops because it would be grown on marginal land that is too steep, too sandy or too low in fertility to grow row crops. Also, he doubts it will be grown as an energy crop in the more arid region west of the hundredth meridian�roughly through the center of Nebraska where the Midwest meets the Great Plains. Further west, the lower yields would require transporting biomass further distances to supply refineries, making transportation costs uneconomical. However, on marginal cropland in the western Corn Belt, perennial biomass crops like switchgrass can potentially produce more ethanol per acre than corn. In the Central Plains trials, the average ethanol yields from switchgrass would amount to 450 gallons per acre or 79 gallons per ton.

The Illinois work on miscanthus does not include conversion technologies, but Iogen Corp. told Long that miscanthus, switchgrass and corn stover are all similar in sugar yields and a group from Michigan State University says it works well in their pretreatment process.

While the Illinois research has not advanced to farm-scale trials, early economic analysis shows some interesting comparisons. Madhu Khanna, in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at UIUC, figured out the annualized cost of production for switchgrass and miscanthus. The total operating cost using 2003 prices and including transportation to the refinery was $375 per hectare ($156 per acre) for switchgrass and $988.88 per hectare ($412 per acre) for miscanthus. The high cost for miscanthus reflects the high machinery costs for harvesting close to 20 tons per hectare (8 tons per acre) of miscanthus versus 5.78 tons per hectare (2.5 tons per acre) of switchgrass. When figuring the operating cost per ton, it was $65 per ton for switchgrass and $50 per ton for miscanthus. She also compared production costs with corn and soybeans, including the cost of switching corn and soybean acres into perennial grasses. She concluded that switchgrass production for biofuels will not be competitive with row crops in Illinois, but ethanol from miscanthus should be competitive with corn stover. Incentives for cellulosic ethanol from biomass crops would boost their competitiveness and might come from policies rewarding carbon sequestration or other soil benefits.

Fitting into the National Debate
Long suggests that the big yields from giant miscanthus are important because of the concerns about food versus fuel�the higher the ethanol yield from energy crops means that less land will need to be taken from food production. Using the target of replacing 20 percent of gasoline with biofuels within 10 years would require an estimated 35 billion gallons of ethanol. “With miscanthus you could do that with 8.2 million hectares (20 million acres),” Long says. If using mixed prairie grasses, as some have suggested as being more ecologically desirable, it would require 90 million hectares (222 million acres).

Those 222 million acres would money in American people pocket and the oil companies don’t want that.  That money out of their pockets.

Miscanthus Growth
Long is leading the research effort started in 2001 at UIUC with the sterile cross Miscanthus x giganteous. The original material came from the Chicago Botanic Garden where it has been grown as an ornamental grass since 1977. The parent species have been in the United States for more than 100 years, he says. Like soybeans, the species originated in eastern China and Japan. Miscanthus has a larger growing region than soybeans, however, reaching to Papua, New Guinea, in the south and into Mongolia and the northern Japanese islands. That’s important because it indicates there should be plenty of genetic material available to improve varieties for a wide range of growing conditions, Long says. Some mistakenly say the common name for Miscanthus x giganteous is elephant grass or bamboo, but Long says giant miscanthus is most closely related to sugarcane.

Giant miscanthus yields are impressive. Once established, the plots yield 14 to 17 tons per acre. The highest yield obtained from Illinois plots was 27 tons per acre. “The trick will be to find out how you can do that routinely,” Long adds. Most recently, Frank Dohleman, a colleague of Longs at UIUC, published the results of his work where he identified the genes involved in the mechanisms that giant miscanthus uses to achieve its high rates of photosynthesis resulting in such vigorous growth.

Because the sterile plant produces no seeds, giant miscanthus is established by planting rhizomes. “It would be rather like planting a potato crop,” Long says. Europeans have developed specialized machinery that can plant 30 acres a day. At Illinois they’ve used tree planters that can only cover four acres a day. Herbicides are used in the first year to reduce weed competition, but once established, giant miscanthus grows so quickly in the spring that it shades out any weeds. The stands also have long lives. “In Denmark they planted miscanthus 30 years ago,” Long says. “They say they get 90 percent of the yield they got 25 years ago.” He adds that the European stands have not seen pest or disease problems as yet.

The crop generally grows 11 feet tall, and will get as high as 14 feet. While one might expect such a tall crop to flatten and lodge in high winds or rains, it’s not prone to lodging. “We’ve even had an ice storm where it was bent over, but it went back into position afterwards,” he says.

Giant miscanthus is harvested in the fall after the first killing frost. The plant moves and stores its nutrients below ground for use the following spring. Europeans harvest it as late as March, although Long says he recommends a December harvest when the ground is frozen to prevent soil compaction from machinery. Furthermore, the cold air keeps the moisture content low. Standard hay cutting and baling equipment is used. The height creates the biggest challenge, Long says. “The tractor driver can’t see where he’s going,” he says. “I have heard in large-scale plots in Europe they have to give the drivers a break because psychologically it’s stressful when you can’t see forward.”

We can do this and it would make us rich like Brazil.

Buy a flex fuel car. Buy E-85 every time you do its patriotic.  Let’s get on Ethanol and get off the middle east.


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