Please take a look at our News and Events pages which include information on our varieties that have been recently released to the sugar industry, on tour groups that have visited our location, on talks recently given by our staff and also includes data from our growth measurement and maturity studies.
Sugarcane First Stubble Fourth Sampling not available due to government shutdown
July 2014. The Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA hosted a group (29) of 6th and 7th grade students from the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery summer camp. Support personnel provided a tour of the Sugarcane Research Unit’s Ardoyne farm. The students had a keen interest in science and enjoyed the presentation on land loss presented by Mr. Chris Adams and Mr. Lionel Lomax. The campers were able to instantly see what causes the loss of land and how to slow it down. Randy Richard presented a talk on entomology and shared information on the ways we check for pests, how we environmentally handle the insecticide applications, as well as our research efforts to breed for resistant varieties of sugarcane. The campers then moved on to a presentation on pathology and disease recognition presented by Kathy Warnke and assisted by Lionel Lomax and Eric Petrie. These young people were able to load a PCR gel with dye to see how it is done as well as observe various objects under the microscope. Finally, the students toured the juice lab where Norris Matherne and Eric Petrie had sugarcane stalks cut for the students to run through the roller mill. They provided a demonstration on how to collect juice from the sugarcane stalks and explained the process of analyzing the juice samples in the lab. These young people asked probing questions and had great responses when asked questions throughout the day.
June 6, 2014. ARS researchers at the Sugarcane Research Unit (SRU), Houma, LA co-hosted the annual USDA-LSU AgCenter Sugarcane Field Day at the USDA, ARS, Ardoyne Research Farm in Schriever, LA on June 6, 2014. The sugarcane field tour began with opening remarks from Dr. Michael Grisham, followed by several presentations at stops along the way, “Release of Variety Ho 07-613 and potential varieties in the pipeline” – Dr. William White, Mr. Edwis Dufrene and Mr. Mike Duet; “Precision Ag for Sugarcane: Where are we now and where are we headed?” – Dr. Richard Johnson; “Herbicide options for layby and fallow weed control and sugarcane ripener update” – Dr. Caleb Dalley; “Wide row spacing in Louisiana sugarcane” – Dr. Paul White; and “Billets and whole stalk planting: the eyes have it” – Dr. Charles Webber. The support/technical staff of the Sugarcane Research Unit also played an important role in the success of this annual event. Approximately 100 people attended, including SRU employees, local farmers, and extension/sugar industry personnel.
June 2, 2014. Scientists from the USDA, ARS, Sugarcane Research Unit (SRU) and the American Sugar Cane League, the Louisiana sugarcane commodity organization, assisted the USDA, FSA, Office of Country and Regional Affairs in organizing a tour of the Louisiana sugarcane industry for a delegation of sugarcane industry personnel from the Philippines. During the tour, June 2 - 6, 2014, the delegates visited a Louisiana sugarcane farm, a raw sugar mill, a sugar refinery, and a sugarcane harvester manufacturing plant. The delegates also had the opportunity to discuss sugarcane research with SRU scientists in Houma and Louisiana State University AgCenter scientists in St. Gabriel. The delegation of about 15 people included representatives of the Philippine government and the sugarcane commodity group, as well as, planters, millers, and agronomists. USDA Undersecretary Michael T. Scuse accompanied the delegation during a portion of their tour.
May 7, 2014. The Garden Club of America took a field trip from New Orleans to the bayou region. With sugarcane being a major crop in the area, the GCA contacted the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, Louisiana about participating in the tour. Dr. Mike Grisham, Ms. Kathy Warnke, and Mr. Eric Petrie were on site at the Ardoyne Plantation house to tell the story and answer questions from the visitors. There were about 150 visitors and their interest in the sugar industry and the SRU’s research was very strong. The hosts at the home, Mr. and Mrs. Lee Schaffer, said that they received many positive comments from the guests on the sugar presentation.
September 26, 2013. Fifty-five Central American sugarcane producers and processors toured the Sugarcane Research Unit’s Ardoyne Research Farm in Schriever, Louisiana. SRU research scientists making presentations included: Drs. Michael Grisham, David Burner, Bill White, Anna Hale and Rich Johnson.
September 9, 2013. Dr. Shuzhen Zhang, Jungang Wang, Wenzhi Wang, and Kate Yang of the Institute of Tropical Biosciences & Biotechnology, Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences, Haikou City, Hainan Province, China, visited Drs. Michael P. Grisham and Yong-Bao Pan at the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA. The visitors toured the Genetics and Pathology laboratories, the crossing facility, and a genetic mapping population field plot. Dr. Pan also demonstrated the sugarcane molecular genotyping technique.
Nicholls State University Raw Cane Sugar Manufacturing Institute tour SRU. Participants in the Nicholls State University Raw Cane Sugar Manufacturing Institute toured the SRU on June 24. The 26 participants representing the states of Louisianaand Florida, as well as at least six countries, are attending the two-week institute designed to teach current technologies utilized in the processing of raw cane. The purpose of the visit was to educate the participants as to research involved in the development of the commercial sugarcane varieties they are processing in their factories. The Unit’s SY’s make 10-minute presentations describing their research and its implication with respect to sugar processing.
Terrebonne Parish Native Americans tour SRU. Participants in the TerrebonneParishSchoolBoard’s Indian Education program toured the SRU on July 15. The group consisted of 17 students from the 7 th through the 11 thgrades and their teachers. The SRU was one of the places chosen to visit during this two-week course that is designed to expose the students to various career opportunities in Agriculture, Science, and the Federal Government. To this end, Dr. Mike Grisham, Kathy Warnke, Lionel Lomax, Randy Richard, and David Verdun provided demonstrations and discussed the pathology, molecular, entomology, and breeding research that SRU scientists and technicians are conducting for the sugarcane industry.
Plymouth RockBaptistChurch Summer Camp Students tour SRU. Approximately 50 students and their supervisors participating in a summer camp sponsored by the PlymouthRockBaptistChurchvisited the SRU on June 23. Mr. Eric Petrie, SRU Biological Science Technician, discussed the history of the Louisiana sugarcane industry, showed the students some of the insects (good and bad) that are commonly found in sugarcane fields, and described some of the uses of sugar to include making things “taste good” such as ice cream and medicines. As a further demonstration, the students were given ice cream to eat. Most of these students were urban kids with no appreciation of the sugar industry in Louisiana. The tour received front page coverage in the June 24 edition of the HoumaDaily Courier.
World Association of Beet and Cane Growers tour SRU. The World Association of Beet and Cane Growers, which is a specialized body within the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, held a meeting in New Orleans. Twenty-nine members of the group visited the SRU on July 22 as part of an American Sugar Cane League-sponsored pre-meeting tour of the Louisianasugarcane industry. SRU staff members: Ed Richard, Mike Grisham, Bill White, Yong-Bao Pan, Rich Johnson, Ryan Viator, John Veremis, Ed Dufrene, and Kathy Warnke discussed various aspects of the unit’s research and answered questions regarding sugarcane production in Louisiana.
Congressional Staff visit SRU: Approx. 25 Congressional staffers participated in an American Sugar Cane League of the U.S.A.sponsored tour of the Louisianasugarcane industry. As part of the tour, the staffers visited the Sugarcane Research Laboratory on November 12 th. While at the laboratory, SRU scientists discussed research efforts in: varietal development, disease and insect protection through plant resistance, green-cane harvesting, and the development of cane as a feedstock for the production of energy and other bio-based products.
U.S. Beet Growers tour SRU: About 60 sugar beet growers from the various sugar beet producing states in the northern and western regions of the U.S.participated in an American Sugar Cane League of the U.S.A.sponsored tour of the Louisianasugarcane industry on November 19 th. As part of the tour, the growers visited the Sugarcane Research Laboratory. While at the laboratory, Dr. Ed Richard, SRU Research Leader, and CRIS Project Leaders: Drs. Tom Tew, Mike Grisham, and Rich Johnson discussed research efforts in: varietal development, disease and insect protection, green-cane harvesting, and the development of cane as a feedstock for the production of energy and other bio-based products.
SRU Scientists host Visitors: Dr. Sarah Lingle, Research Plant Physiologist, located in New Orleans, LA, is hosting two visitors from Thailandat the SRRC in New Orleans. Dr. Manit Kosittrakun, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the Graduate School, Khon Kaen University, will be in New Orleans January 14–27 while Mr. Watanachai Lontom, a Ph.D. candidate at KhonKaenUniversitywill be in New Orleansuntil April 29. The purpose of the visit is to establish research collaboration on the role of acid invertases on pre- and post-harvest juice quality in sugarcane. The research will be conducted by Mr. Lontom, who will learn enzyme extraction and assay techniques in Dr. Lingle’s laboratory before returning to Thailandto complete his research. In addition, SRU scientists at Houmahosted two visitors, Mr. Peter McGuire and Mr. Robert Quirk, from the New South Whales area of AustraliaJanuary 18–20. Mr. McGuire is a sugarcane extension specialist with the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations and Mr. Quirk is a sugarcane farmer. Since the climate in New South Whales is similar to Louisiana, the individuals were particularly interested in the cultural practices research being conducted by the SRU as well as the research conducted to date exploring the use of cane biomass as a feedstock for biofuels.
Arkansas High School Group tours SRU: Eighty-two science students along with 16 chaperones from Caddo Hills High School in Norman, AR visited the Sugarcane Research Unit (SRU) on Monday March 21. The group was touring agriculture regions growing crops not indigenous to their area. While at the SRU, the visitors were shown a video on the 200 + year history of the Louisianasugarcane industry, how sugarcane is grown and processed into table sugar. technical staff consisting of Eric Petrie, Thomas Duet, Clinton Randall, Kathy Warnke, Jeannette Adams, Jeri Maggio, David Verdun, and Randy Richard mission and areas of sugarcane research being conducted by the Unit. Research discussed as the students toured the labs and facilities included: disease recognition and the diagnostic tools used to identify these diseases using the SRU’s CSI Lab - just like the one on TV; variety development and growth of commercial and potential new cane varieties; and sugarcane insect identification and the utilization of predatory insects as part of an integrated pest management program. For fun and at the end of the tour the students were given a 10 question multiple choice test with questions such as: What makes sugar white? How much can a stalk of sugarcane grow in a day? What are fire ants good for? What does a pathologist study?
Agriculture Research Service receives Chinese Visitor: Dr. Yang-Rui Li, President of the Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GAAS), Nanning, China, visited the Southern Regional Research Center (SRRC) and the Sugarcane Processing Research Institute at New Orleans, LA and the SRRC’s Sugarcane Research Unit (SRU) at Houma, LA on April 25-26, 2005. During his visit to the various entities, Dr. Li exchanged general information on sugarcane research. Dr. Li was particularly interested in exploring the possibility of developing cooperative research and scientific exchange programs on sugarcane physiology, breeding, genetics, and chemical regulation of growth and development between researchers at the SRU and GAAS .
Nicholls State University Raw Sugar Manufacturing Short Course visits ARS Sugarcane Research Laboratory (SRL): Fifteen individuals representing raw sugar mills from Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, Venezuela, and the United States are taking part in a raw sugar manufacturing short course sponsored by NSU at Thibodaux, LA. The group visited the SRL at Houma, LAon June 15th where various aspects of sugarcane production that effect cane deliveries and the quality of sugar produced at the raw sugar mills were discussed by members of the Sugarcane Research Unit stationed at the SRL. Discussions included: varietal development and its effect on cane and sugar yields (Dr. Tom Tew, Research Geneticist), effects of diseases (Dr. Mike Grisham, Research Plant Pathologist) and insects (Dr. Bill White, Research Entomologist) on cane and sugar yields, cane maturation and artificial cane ripening (Dr. Ed Richard, Research Leader), increasing cane quality by improving harvesting efficiency (Dr. Ryan Viator, Research Plant Physiologist), and the variable rate application of nutrients to increase production efficiencies and juice quality (Dr. Rich Johnson, Research Agronomist). The group also toured the SRL’s Juice Quality Laboratory where Mrs. Michelle Portier, Biological Science Technician, demonstrated the lab’s automated juice sampling processes.
Sugarcane Research Unit (SRU) Members host Youth Group: The Sugarcane Research Laboratory served as the site for a field trip for participants of the PlymouthRockBaptistChurch’s Summer Day Camp. The participants, ranging in age from seven to twelve, and their counselors spent most of the morning of June 16 at the Laboratory in Houma, Louisiana. While at the Laboratory, they were shown a video entitled: “Raising Cane in Louisiana”. The group was then given a tour of the facility to hear discussions on: the impact and detection of diseases (Dr. Mike Grisham, Research Plant Pathologist, and Biological Science Technicians, Kathy Warnke and Lionel Lomax), the rearing of sugarcane borers for entomological research (Biological Science Technicians, Jeannette Adams and Elta Duet), and sugarcane varietal development (Dr. John Veremis, Research Geneticist and Mr. Edwis Dufrene, Agronomist). The utilization of sugar was demonstrated, by providing members of the group with snow cones at the conclusion of the tour. The group was very inquisitive and a joy to host.
Sugarcane Research Unit (SRU) host Scientist for a Day Winner: Each year the SRU sponsors a "Scientist for a Day" award at the Terrebonne Parish Science and Engineering Fair. Demonstrating the marvels of agricultural science from the lab to the field was the objective of the SRU staff as they hosted this year’s recipient, Mr. Yun Liu, on June 16 at the Sugarcane Research Laboratory. Biological Science Technicians Kathy Warnke, Jeri Maggio, and Lionel Lomax introduced Yun to the world of molecular biology, while Biological Science Technicians Jeannette Adams and Elta Duet explained how both the detrimental sugarcane borer and Cotesia, a very small wasp that can kill sugarcane borer larvae, are raised in the insectory for research. Dr. John Veremis, Research Geneticist, showed Yun how breeding with wild plant relatives of sugarcane can be used to introduce new traits such as cold tolerance, vigor, and insect and disease resistance into commercial sugarcane varieties. Dr. Ryan Viator, Research Plant Physiologist, gave him a tour of the many research projects being conducted at the 300‑acre USDA farm. Dr. Mike Grisham, Research Plant Pathologist, acted as host and coordinator for the day’s activities. Yun, a sophomore at Terrebonne High School, was also an overall Grand Prize winner of the Terrebonne Parish science fair and participated in the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona, May 8th to 14th.
ARS’s Sugarcane Research Unit Members host National Vocational Agriculture Convention Participants: Approximately 125 vocational agriculture teachers, from across the U.S. took a break from the business matters of their national convention in Thibodaux, LA to tour the Sugarcane Research Laboratory at Houma, LA on June 21. Dr. Ed Richard, Research Leader, discussed the significance of the sugar industry to Louisiana, the history of ARS’s involvement in the sugar industry, and ARS research in sugarcane varietal development. Dr. Ryan Viator, Research Plant Physiologist, discussed the mechanical harvesting of sugarcane and research efforts to identify ways to reduce the industry’s dependence on the use of burning to reduce the impact of leafy trash on harvesting efficiency and crop growth. The influence and management of weed, disease, and insect pests was discussed by Dr. Richard and Mrs. Jeannette Adams, Biological Science Technician, Sugarcane was a new crop to many of the teachers and as such the speakers had to field a wide array of questions.
Local residents given tours of the Sugarcane Research Laboratory (SRL): On August 3 a local father and son requested and were given a tour of the SRL. The son was completing his World Conservation Badge for Cub Scouts and needed to tour an agricultural research facility. Eric Petrie discussed the history of the SRL and outlined the research conducted there including; the basic breeding, entomology and weed control programs. Kathy Warnke and Jeri Maggio discussed plant pathology and molecular biology research, including the procedures used to extract DNA and the process of PCR. A tour of the insectary was also given with discussions centered on the rearing of sugarcane borers and beneficial insects. At the photo period house, there was a discussion about how sugarcane is induced to flower under Louisiana conditions and also outlined the various steps in the varietal development process. On August 4th two local residents were given a similar tour with Eric Petrie, Lionel Lomax and Jeri Maggio providing the tour information. Both tours ended with the viewing of the video "Growing Sugarcane in Louisiana". Both tour groups asked informative questions and were clearly excited to tour the facility.
Local Public School Students tour Research Farm: Eric Petrie, Ryan Viator, Edwis Dufrene, Harold Callahan, and Ed Richard hosted a visit to the Sugarcane Research Laboratory’s Ardoyne Research Farm by approximately 170 public school students on March 20-21, 2006. The students were taking part in the TerrebonneParishSchoolSystem’s Operation Move Program. The after-school program provides tutoring and educational opportunities for students whose parents are still at work. While at the research farm, the students heard presentations on the history of sugarcane production in Louisiana; how and why sugarcane grows in Louisiana; the impact of sugarcane production on the local and state economies; the disease, insect and weed pests that affect sugarcane and why farmers must control them; and the various types of machinery used to grow and harvest sugarcane.
Local High School Student tours the Sugarcane Research Laboratory: Miss Britney Haydel, recipient of the Sugarcane Research Unit's "Scientist for a Day" award at the 2006 Terrebonne Parish Science and Engineering Fair, spent the day (July 27, 2006) touring the unit’s laboratories and farm getting a first-hand introduction to some of the research being conducted by the ARS scientists at the SRU. Technicians Kathy Warnke, Jeri Maggio, and Lionel Lomax introduced her to the world of molecular biology, while Drs. Rich Johnson and Ryan Viator gave her a tour of the many projects being conducted at the research farm. Dr. Mike Grisham acted as host and coordinator for the day’s activities. Britney graduated from TerrebonneHigh Schoolin May 2006, and will be attending LouisianaStateUniversityin the fall.
Local Teachers Given tour of Sugarcane Research Laboratory: The Sugarcane Research Unit at Houma, Louisiana hosted a group of science and social studies teachers from Terrebonne Parish who were taking part in a Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service sponsored Ag in the Class Room Workshop. The workshop is designed to expose teachers to agriculture in Louisianaby providing them with discussions on various crops and lessen plans that can be used by the teachers as they discuss the importance of agriculture to Louisiana’s economy. Emphasis during the workshop was on livestock rice production in Louisiana. Dr. Ed Richard, welcomed the participants and provided them with a tour of the Unit’s sugarcane breeding facility.
National Agriculture in the Classroom Educators and Volunteers tour Research Farm: Drs. Ed Richard and Caleb Dalley and Messrs. Eric Petrie, Frank Randall, Thomas Duet, Harold Callahan, and Hubert Zeller hosted 120 participants with the USDA- and Farm Bureau-sponsored National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference at the Sugarcane Research Unit’s Ardoyne Research Farm on June 8. The conference, which was being held in New Orleans, is designed for educators and volunteers across the U.S.who have an interest in agricultural literacy. While on a “hayride type” tour through the farm, the history of and facts about the Louisianasugar industry, as well as the research in sugarcane varietal development and management being contacted at the SRU, was discussed.
High School Students tour Research Farm: Mr. Eric Petrie provided a tour of the Sugarcane Research Unit’s Ardoyne Research Farm on June 11 to eleven Native American high school students along with three chaperones taking part in the 2007 Terrebonne Parish Youth Leadership Camp. Mr. Petrie discussed the opportunities in agricultural science and the types of scientific research being conducted at the SRU in sugarcane. Major emphasis was placed on the need for photoperiod induction of flowering in the varietal development program and the length of time needed to develop a variety as well as the ongoing entomological work where resistant varieties are sought out to lessen the need for insecticide applications. The students also viewed the farm equipment, some working in the field and others on static display near the shop.
September 9, 2015. The USDA-ARS Sugarcane Research Unit would like to announce Dr. James Todd as our new Research Geneticist. Please read the following article from the September 2015, Volume 93, Sugar Bulletin. The Louisiana sugarcane industry has another reason to count its blessings. Dr. James Todd has joined the variety development team at the USDA station in Houma. He has been hired as a commercial breeder and will manage that aspect of the program. Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, Dr. Todd received his Bachelor of Science and Masters in Biology from Midwestern State University. He became interested in plant genetics during an employment at a local nursery and decided to go for a PhD in plant genetics and breeding. He enrolled at Oklahoma State University studying switchgrass breeding. In spring 2012, he was hired by the USDA to study the world collection of sugarcane and related grasses (WCSRG). He published a study looking at the use of commercial cultivars in crossing using past genealogy data in collaboration with the Houma and LSU breeding programs. James then finished his work at Canal Point and acquired another post doc position with a team planting, harvesting and collecting energy cane, then analyzing the data from the energy cane program. He is well-published and we’re glad to have him on our team.
August 9, 2014. ARS researchers Michael Grisham and Amber Keizerweerd of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA presented papers at the 2014 APS – CPS Joint Meeting -American Phytopathological Society – Canadian Phytopathological Society in Minneapolis, MN on August 9 – 13, 2014. Dr. Grisham’s abstract: Red stripe caused by Acidovirax avenae subsp. avenae in Louisiana Sugarcane; Dr. Keizerweerd’s abstract: Determining seed transmissibility of sugarcane mosaic virus and sugarcane yellow leaf virus in sugarcane. This year’s program offered a wide variety of special sessions, field trips, and workshops dedicated to the latest research and information on plant science and hosted 1,500 attendees from 45 countries.
July 20, 2014. ARS researcher Richard Johnson of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA presented a talk entitled, “Variable-Rate Application of Nitrogen and Potassium Fertilizers in Louisiana Sugarcane Production” at the 12th International Conference on Precision Agriculture on July 20 – 23, 2014, in Sacramento, CA.
June 23, 2014. Dr. Michael Grisham, Research Leader of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana attended the ARS Congressional Briefing Conference (presented by the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University) on June 23-26, 2014 at Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. as part of the New Research Leader Training Program (NRLTP).
June 17, 2014. ARS researchers from the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA participated in the annual meeting of the USDA, ARS, Sugarcane Crop Germplasm Committee (CGC) Meeting in Bonita Springs, Florida, June 17, 2014. Participants included Drs. Anna Hale, Committee Chair; Michael Grisham, Member; Amber Keizerweerd; Yong-Boa Pan; and Richard Johnson. Dr. Keizerweerd presented the results of the CGC-funded research project on seed transmission of sugarcane pathogens. They also attended the 44th Annual Joint Meeting of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists in Bonita Springs, Florida, June 18-20, 2014. The following presentations were made: Effect of sugarcane smut on yield and the relationship of soil properties with smut incidence (Grisham, June 20 at 8:50 a.m. ); Impacts of the basic breeding program (Hale, June 19 at 3:50 p.m.); Influence of foliar copper and nickel applications on sugarcane yields in brown rust infested fields in Louisiana (Johnson, June 19 at 1:30 p.m.); Segregation analysis of microsatellite (SSR) markers in sugarcane polyploids (Pan, June 20 at 8:10 a.m.); and Ho 07-613 – A potential new sugarcane variety for Louisiana (White, June 19 at 3:30 p.m.). A poster presentation was scheduled on June 19; A report on the transmissibility of Sugarcane mosaic virus and Sugarcane yellow leaf virus through seed in sugarcane (Keizerweerd).
May 14, 2014. Scientists at the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana, participated in the release of a new sugarcane variety. The Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (ARS-USDA), the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station of the LSU Agricultural Center (LSU AgCenter), and the American Sugar Cane League of the U.S.A., Inc. (ASCL), working cooperatively, developed a new sugarcane variety, Ho 07-613, for commercial planting in the summer of 2014. Ho 07-613 is a product of the cross between HoCP 00-905 and HoCP 96-540 made at the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma (Ho), LA in 2002 and selected at Houma (Ho), Louisiana in 2004. Results of numerous field tests at research stations and cooperator farms have been compiled and analyzed. In all three crop years (first-year crop and two ratoon crops), Ho 07-613 produces significantly more sugar/ton than HoCP 96-540; the prominent sugarcane variety currently being grown in Louisiana. The variety is resistant or moderately resistant to the diseases of economic importance in Louisiana and is resistant to the major insect pest, the sugarcane borer.
April 21, 2014. ARS researchers, Drs. Michael Grisham, Paul White, Anna Hale and Mr. Edwis Dufrene of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA traveled to Monte Alto, Texas during the week of April 21, 2014 to participate in a sugarcane seminar sponsored by Rio Farms, Inc. They discussed variety development cooperation and exchanged research ideas to further cooperative efforts.
January 16, 2014. Drs. Chuck Webber and Paul White, Research Agronomists with the Sugarcane Research Unit visited the 7th grade science class at St. Matthew’s Episcopal School in Houma, LA. The scientists showed a video on the Louisiana sugarcane industry, discussed the growth physiology of sugarcane, and brought along products from the industry including raw sugar, molasses, bagasse, and cane syrup. They left the students with billets of commercial sugarcane to take home and plant or chew.
October 31 – November 1, 2013. Drs. Richard Johnson and Michael Grisham of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma , LA attended the Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association’s 11th Annual Fall Researchers Retreat in Marksville, LA.
September 25, 2013. Dr. Caleb Dalley of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA was invited to attend Syngenta’s Mid-South Regional Cooperator’s Meeting in Memphis, TN to provide input on crop protection products.
September 8–14, 2013. Dr. Richard Johnson was invited to present a talk entitled “Precision agricultural and remote sensing applications in the Louisiana sugarcane industry” at the XIX Congress of the Association of Sugarcane Technologists of Central America in San Jose, Costa Rica.
August 16, 2013. Dr. David Burner, Edwis Dufrene, David Verdun, Michael Duet and Lawrence Lovell, Jr. of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA participated in the annual variety advancement committee meeting at the American Sugar Cane League (ASCL) office in Thibodaux, LA. Each member of the committee, which also includes Louisiana State University Ag Center and ASCL, discussed positive and negative attributes of potential sugarcane cultivars, and decided which ones to advance for further field testing.
August 10-14, 2013. Drs. Michael Grisham and Amber Keizerweerd of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA attended the American Phytopathological Society annual meeting in Austin, Texas. Dr. Grisham presented two papers: Development of loop-mediated isothermal amplification for detection of Leifsonia xyli subsp. syli in sugarcane and Introduction of orange rust caused by Puccinia kuehnii into the Louisiana sugarcane industry. Dr. Keizerweerd submitted a poster presentation entitled Genetic diversity of viruses causing mosaic in Louisiana sugarcane.
July 18, 2013. Mr. Eric Petrie of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana received the 2013 Lafourche Parish Sugarcane Field Day award for his contributions to sugarcane research during his career with the USDA-ARS and for his invaluable assistance at the annual LaTerre Master Gardeners Vegetable Field Day held at the SRU.
July 18, 2013. Mr. Eric Petrie of the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA gave a field day presentation of the fallow weed control demonstration plots at the Lafourche Sugarcane Field Day in Raceland, LA. The meeting was attended by sugarcane growers, millers, researchers, and consultants primarily from within Lafourche Parish, LA. Mr. Petrie discussed benefits of herbicides and herbicide tank-mixes for controlling weeds in fallow sugarcane fields. The demonstration plots, designed and applied by Dr. Caleb Dalley, Mr. Norris Matherne, Mr. Eric Petrie, and Mr. Frank Randall, showed examples of weed control with these herbicides.
August 14 – 17, 2013. Drs. Michael Grisham, Anna Hale, Ryan Viator, and William White of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana were invited to speak at the Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers Meeting in Monte Alto, Texas concerning various aspects of the ARS sugarcane improvement program. The meeting will include indoor presentations as well as open discussions and a field tour of ARS-developed sugarcane varieties provided by ARS to Rio Farms, Inc. under a material transfer agreement (MTA). Discussions will explore joint ARS-Rio Farms research opportunities including ongoing evaluation of the commercial potential of ARS-developed sugarcane varieties for the Texas industry; studies of the Mexican rice borer, a sugarcane pest that threatens the Louisiana sugarcane industry; and experiments related to the effect of environmental and biological stresses on sugarcane.
July 23, 2013. Drs. Paul White, Anna Hale, and Mike Grisham, of the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA, and Dr. Ed Richard (formerly with ARS) hosted Paulo Antonio Skaf Filho of Brazil. Mr. Filho is the Director of COMBIO, a company that builds biomass-based power plants in a wide range of industrial companies, including refineries and chemical plants. He was in Houma to discuss energycane breeding and production practices being developed by ARS scientists and how these practices could transfer to Brazil to build COMBIO’s clientele.
July 17-20, 2013. Dr. David Burner of the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA met with breeding staff at ARS’ Sugarcane Field Station, Canal Point, Florida to plan and discuss the upcoming crossing season.
July 17-19, 2013. Dr. Caleb Dalley of the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA was invited to present research findings at the “First Seminar on Weed Control and Sugarcane Ripeners” at the Guatemalan Sugarcane Research and Training Center (CENGICAÑA) in Santa Lucia, Esquintla, Guatemala. This seminar was organized by The Guatemalan Association of Sugarcane Technologists (La Asociación de Técnicos Azucareros de Guatemala) and attended by more than 300 people associated with sugarcane production and processing in Guatemala and other Central American countries. Dr. Dalley was asked to give two 90 minute presentations: the first on weed control in sugarcane and the second on the use of sugarcane ripeners. Other presenters at this conference included researchers from Brazil, Costa Rica, USA, and Guatemala.
June 26, 2013. ARS research scientists from the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA have been invited to attend the American Sugar Cane League Contact Committee Meeting on June 26, 2013 in Thibodaux, Louisiana. The central theme for the meeting will be sugarcane breeding. Scientists working in the variety development program at both USDA and LSU will take center stage to discuss the many phases of the Louisiana sugarcane-breeding program. The important work of breeding and selection of commercial varieties will be discussed by Dr. David Burner and Dr. Collins Kimbeng (LSU), while Dr. Anna Hale will present information on the USDA basic breeding program.
June 24-27, 2013. Dr. William White of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana attended the 28th Congress of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ISSCT) in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Unofficial participation was placed at 850 delegates representing 50 countries. Dr. White presented two papers at the conference: Erianthus: A sugarcane relative with potential as a source of resistance to the stem borer Diatraea saccharalis (F.) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) and Mendel’s legacy lives through management of sugarcane pests. The ISSCT Congress brings together sugarcane technologists from around the world and therefore fulfills an important role of keeping scientists up to date on one of the world’s most important agricultural commodity.
June 21, 2013. Drs. Anna Hale and Charles Webber, with assistance from biological technicians Jennifer Chiasson, Atticus Finger, and Chris Adams of the USDA-ARS-Sugarcane Research Unit, led a tour and gave presentations to students and faculty from Tulane University, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine of New Orleans, LA. The students and faculty toured the USDA Ardoyne Farm in Schriever, LA. Topics and presentations of the tour included the breeding program, planting strategies, field harvesting techniques, soil conservation, and operation of the sugar cane laboratory.
June 20, 2013. Drs. Anna Hale, Ryan Viator, Chuck Webber, and Paul White of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana led a tour and gave presentations to the participants from the 2013 Nichols State University Raw Cane Sugar Manufacturers’ Institute. Nichols State University is located in Thibodaux, LA, and hosts the annual institute. The participants, an international group of researchers, agronomists, and millers, toured the USDA Ardoyne Farm in Schriever. Topics of the tour included the breeding program, field harvesting techniques, soil conservation, and operating the station’s sugar laboratory.
June 20-21, 2013. Dr. Michael Grisham, Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA has been invited to make presentations at the Symbiosis Conference: Expanding Commercialization of Mutualistic Microbes to Increase Bioenergy Crop Production hosted by The U.S. Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. The title of Dr. Grisham’s presentation is “Potential of Diazotrophic Bacteria Associated with Sugarcane for Energycane Production.”
June 17, 2013. Dr. Richard Johnson of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana was invited to give a talk at the Bayouland Young Farmers Meeting in Paincourtville and at the Assumption Parish Field Day in Napoleonville on July 9th.
June 12-14, 2013. Scientists from the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA will be attending the 43rd Annual Joint Meeting of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists in Panama City Beach, FL. Topics: Yields of giant Miscanthus, giant reed, and sugarcane as bioenergy feedstocks on an upland soil (Burner); In-field assessment of ratoon cold tolerance of Pennisetum and Saccharum clones (Burner); Development of orange rust of sugarcane in Louisiana (Grisham); Identifying a new causal agent of mosaic in Louisiana sugarcane (Keizerweerd); Enzymatic analysis of mannitol as a measure of post-freeze juice degradation in sugar and energy cane (Hale); Effect of potassium fertilizer application on sugarcane yields in Louisiana (Johnson); Use of SSR markers for DNA fingerprinting and diversity analysis of Pakistani sugarcane (Saccharum spp. Hybrids) cultivars (Pan); and Cultural practices to increase ratooning (Viator).
June 4, 2013. Thirteen campers (ages 8-13), along with 4 instructors, from the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Camp visited the Sugarcane Research Unit’s (SRU) research farm in Schriever, LA. Dr. Paul White demonstrated how soil cover affects erosion using a rainfall simulator and special troughs and funnels. Mr. Harold Callahan and Mr. Hubert Zeller demonstrated how the slopes of our fields are regulated to reduce soil runoff using laser guided grading equipment. Mr. Randy Richard talked about the insects of sugarcane and how we have both good and bad ones in our environment. Ms. Kathy Warnke and Ms. Jeri Maggio discussed the disease problems in our industry and allowed the campers to load a PCR gel with dye to demonstrate the tools used to diagnose plant diseases as well as to look under the microscope to see the spores of rust disease. Mr. Eric Petrie explained the process of analyzing the juice in our lab and the equipment needed to complete this task. The group boarded a trailer and took a ride through the cane field to see firsthand what they had just learned about.
June 1, 2013. The LaTerr Master Gardeners, an extension based group, along with USDA Peoples Garden Project hosted a Vegetable Field Day for the local community on the grounds of the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, Louisiana. One hundred and twenty people turned out for the occasion and viewed the garden plots containing many varieties of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, beans, corn, and a variety of flowers. Presentations were made by several extension personnel as well as USDA member Mr. Eric Petrie who acts as the liaison between the two agencies. Those in attendance were given the opportunity to ask questions, share their successes, taste many of the varieties of tomatoes, and rate their flavor. This is the 4th year the USDA has partnered with this group and employees enjoy sharing their knowledge with the community. Most of the produce that is harvested is donated to the local food bank.
May 31, 2013. ARS Scientists and support staff from the Sugarcane Research Unit participated in the USDA-LSU AgCenter Sugarcane Field Day at the USDA Ardoyne Research Farm, Schriever, LA. Attendees toured the SRU’s newest facilities – Crossing & photoperiod house and head house & storage buildings. The following topics were presented throughout the day: Varieties (Edwis Dufrene), Soil fertility management: prioritizing inputs to maintain yields and insure profitability (Johnson); Billet and whole stalk planting and planters (Viator); Sugarcane varietal competition with johnsongrass and bermudagrass (Dalley); Intercropping and soil additives for improved soil health (Paul White/Chuck Webber); and Report on Spring 2013 Seedling planting (David Burner). Presentations were also made by employees of the LSU AgCenter (Mr. Rick Louque and Dr. Michael Salassi), and the American Sugar Cane League (Mr. Jim Simon).
May 23-27, 2013. Drs. Anna Hale and Yong-Bao Pan, Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA were invited to speak at the International Workshop on Noblisation of Erianthus in Fiji, sponsored under the European Union African Caribbean Pacific (EU-ACP) Sugar Research Program. The workshop was organized by the Sugarcane Research Institute of Fiji (SRIF) and observed by Program Coordinator Mr. Jean Cyril Dagallier from Belgium. Dr. Hale’s presentation was entitled, “The use of Erianthus in the USDA’s germplasm enhancement program in Houma, Louisiana”. Dr. Pan’s presentation was entitled, “Effectiveness of molecular techniques in identification of Erianthus hybrids”. Ten sugarcane breeders and four molecular geneticists from nine countries were invited to the workshop to deliberate and share experiences on Erianthus hybrid production.
May 13 – 17, 2013. Dr. Richard Johnson of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana was invited to present aspects of his research in precision agriculture to the staff of El Viejo Sugar Mill and Plantation, in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Dr. Johnson was also asked to evaluate the sponsor's current precision agriculture operations and provide input and suggestions for their improvement. The presentation entitled "Precision Agricultural Applications in the Louisiana Sugarcane Industry" was well received and numerous opportunities for collaboration were discussed.
May 6, 2013. Dr. Amaresh Chandra, a Principal Scientist and Head from the Division of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow, India, will be visiting the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA from 05/06/2013 to 02/22/2014. He will be working with Drs. Mike Grisham and Y.-B. Pan on a sugarcane molecular marker project targeting sugar metabolism. Dr. Chandra’s visit is sponsored by a DBT-CREST Fellowship from India government.
April 22, 2013. Earth Day event. Employees at the Sugarcane Research Unit celebrated Earth Day this year at the Ardoyne Research Farm in Schriever, Louisiana. A silver leaf maple tree was planted near the new facility which will provide a shaded area in the future. To promote environmental awareness, several staff members donated their time and resources to construct very imaginative planters out of recycled pallets. A slide show with photos of the completed projects was presented while employees enjoyed a pot luck lunch.
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