Vetiver and its potential in the Gulf of Mexico Region

It is always nice to see private individuals experimenting with vetiver on their land. We have an example of Warren Sullivan who has land on the east side of Trinity Bay, Texas. He sent me the following message:

“I took these pic’s at the end of September 2009. Th first image is the Vetiver that I received and planted September 28th, 2009. The second image was the Vetiver I received from Alberto (Vetiver Solutions) last year two to three weeks prior to Hurricane Ike. The third and last image shows the new planted Vetiver on the left of the tin shed and last years Vetiver on the right side of shed. I did not lose any plants due to the hurricane and they were totally submerged for a few days. Our area experienced a 16 -18 foot tidal surge. There is a refrigerator 8 feet up in a tree in the woods behind the shed which I am going to leave as a reminder ! There is a cabin immediately to the left of these pictures that had 4 feet of water inside the cabin and the house sits 2.5 feet off the ground on cement blocks
I gave my friend in East Texas, specifically Joaquin,Texas, which is north east of Nacogdoches,Texas about 1 hour or south of Marshall about 1 hour, 12 Vetiver plants 2 years ago. He planted these in his woods for erosion purposes along a road way ditch that washes quite a bit. It really was just a test to see if they would survive. I am happy to say that they are alive”.
These images show just how well vetiver will grow on these coastal soils under the hot humid conditions of coastal Texas. Plants like these could provide real protection from tropical storms. (Incidentally the late Don Heumann of New Orleans who was an ardent vetiver grower produced similar strong and massive volumes of biomass from his vetiver (that too got totally submerged by Katrina). Gueric Boucard in the Dominican Republic is growing hundreds of hectares of vetiver using saline water unfit for agricultural crops to produce similar growth of 70 tons of biomass per hectare. He grows it for furnace feedstock to power electric generators. If grown at field scale and if managed correctly (intensively grazed when young) vetiver will produce high yields of forage that will support maintenance +.
If Texas gets hotter and drier due to climate change, vetiver might prove to be a very useful drought resistant plant.
When someone comes up with an economic solution for producing cellulosic ethanol vetiver has to be a very good candidate as a source of biomass. It might be an idea for the universities in the “Gulf States” to start taking a serious look at vetiver for these types of application and more.
Hats off to Warren Sullivan, Jack Bertel, Gueric Boucard, Pete and Bonnie Pate, Duff Swan, and Alberto Rodriguez (who supplied Warren the plants) for the pioneering work that they are doing with Vetiver System.