Shares of Ceres Inc. jumped nearly 16 percent on Monday after the energy-crop seeds developer signed an agreement with a Swiss agriculture company to jointly develop sweet sorghum projects in Brazil.

The Thousand Oaks company said the partnership between its Brazilian unit, Ceres Sementes do Brasil Ltda, and Basel-based Syngenta AG, will focus on sweet sorghum because of its potential as a fermentable sugar used in ethanol production. Sweet sorghum grows quickly in Brazil and needs less water and other resources than sugar cane.

Ceres will provide seed and research resources, with Syngenta bringing its agronomy expertise to the partnership. They plan to collaborate on small-scale trials as well as larger demonstration-scale field evaluations.

“By working together with Syngenta, we believe we can advance the development of sweet sorghum crop management practices and provide a more complete package of advanced hybrids and leading crop protection products to our mutual customers," Michael Stephenson, Ceres vice president of operations, said in a statement.

Ceres shares closed up 55 cents to $4.04 on Nasdaq.

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