Biofuels forcing farm thinking outside the box
September 1, 2006
David Shermock, AgriBiofuels
David Shermock
(courtesy Texas A&M Univ.)

Chinese Tallow is reported to produce approximately 500 gallons per acre of usable oil as opposed to the 29 to 32 gallon yield from soybeans in Texas.  It takes a little over one bushel of soybeans to produce a gallon of oil so the oil produced will differ based on the average crop yield for the region.  In the Midwest, 45 to 50 bushels per acre yields are about normal so we will see most publications listing approximately 48 gallons of oil per acre of soybean.  The yield difference in Texas is therefore approximately 29 gallons per acre for soybean as opposed to 500 gallons per acre for Chinese Tallow.

I use Chinese Tallow as an example of what thinking just a little differently can do for our U.S. fuel security and the future of agriculture in our country.  I feel sure the farm community can add a crop like Chinese Tallow orchards to many areas not farmed today and take advantage of the economic benefits without even impacting the current crops.  This approach would allow some time for comfort in the crop to be developed and harvesting and handling to be worked out before actual changes to existing crop schedules are considered.  The resourcefulness of agribusiness in the U.S. has stepped up to many challenges over the years and found ways to harvest soybeans, cotton, pecans, fruits and hundreds of other crops, so we can be sure if they put their mind to it, we can tame crops like Chinese Tallow and Jatropha for high yield production of crop oils.

David Shermock's opinion on tallow trees was published in conjunction with a correction to the article: "Biofuels forcing farm thinking outside the box," Texas Agriculture, August 4, 2006 edition. See:, accessed 05/24/2014.  David Shermock is an industrial engineer with AgriBioFuels.  Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.