Jatropha for biodiesel comes to Florida

Jatropha, a plant whose seed is used to produce biodiesel, is joining the long list of non-native plants growing in Florida. My Dream Fuel LLC claims to have a million seedlings in the ground at a Hendry county nursery already with another million to come before June. According to owner, Paul Dalton, his is the first company to do large jatropha planting anywhere in the country. With missionary-like zeal he asserts, "There are about 100 buyers for every gallon you produce" and that the plants are easy to grow, requiring little fertilization and only "occasional watering". (Other sources claim the plants need 60 inches of water yearly to be productive.)

My Dream Fuel LLC which will soon, "...open a $1.5 million, 15,000-square-foot center for seed crushing and plant cloning..." is trying to convince farmers whose citrus orchards have been affected by canker disease to give jatropha a shot, as well as cattle ranchers seeking diversification. An article about the venture in the Naples Daily News says that Dalton is not alone in his optimism about the future of the crop in Florida and states that "Roy Beckford, an agricultural and natural resource agent for the University of Florida/IFAS in Lee County, has pushed Jatropha as an alternative crop for South Florida growers for years."

The article, which ends on the high note of plans a few other farmers have for the crop, is followed by a lively comments section that becomes slightly more pessimistic and it grows in length. We hope our readers will share their thoughts as well.

[Source: Naples Daily News]

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