NEW AND IMPROVED CULTURAL PRACTICES FOR SUSTAINABLE SUGARCANE PRODUCTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Location: Sugarcane Research Unit
Title: Early harvest affects sugarcane ratooning ability in Louisiana
Submitted to: Sugar Cane International
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 15, 2009
Publication Date: May 20, 2010
Citation: Viator, R.P., Dalley, C.D., Johnson, R.M., Richard Jr, E.P. 2010. Early harvest affects ratooning ability in Louisiana. Sugar Cane International. 28(3):123-127.
Interpretive Summary: Sugarcane is a perennial crop with stresses imposed in one year having the potential to affect crop yields in subsequent years. Experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of early harvest on ratooning ability and to determine differential effects of early harvest among Louisiana varieties. Plant-cane LCP 85-384, Ho 95-988, HoCP 96-540, and L 97-128 was harvested on 1 October (early) and 1 December (optimal) for one or two years. Averaged across all varieties, the early harvest for one year reduced the subsequent year’s sugar yields by 24%, with L 97-128 being very tolerant to an early harvest and HoCP 96-540 showing moderate tolerance. Two years of consecutive early harvests reduced yields by 45%, with all varieties showing no tolerance to this stress. When developing harvest schedules, growers should consider the yield loss in subsequent ratoons associated with successive early fall harvests of the plant-cane and first-ratoon crops.
The number of sugarcane processors in Louisiana has decreased over time forcing growers to begin the harvest season earlier for fear of complete cane loss at the end of the harvest period due to freezing temperatures during this period of late winter. Experiments were conducted to investigate effects of early harvest on ratooning ability and to determine differential effects of early harvest among Louisiana varieties. Plant-cane LCP 85-384, Ho 95-988, HoCP 96-540, and L 97-128 was harvested on 1 October (early) and 1 December (mid-season). Averaged across all varieties, the October harvest of plant-cane reduced sugar yields (p = 0.01) of the first-ratoon (7700 kg/ha) compared to the mid-season harvest date (10100 kg/ha.) The sugar yields for L 97-128 were 600, 3600, and 3900 kg/ha greater (p= 0.01) than HoCP 96-540, LCP 85-384, and Ho 95-988, respectively, for the early harvest. A second experiment was initiated to determine the effects of two consecutive years of early harvest (plant-cane and first-ratoon) on yields of the second-ratoon. Averaged across all varieties, the October harvest of both plant-cane and first-ratoon reduced sugar yields (p = 0.01) of the subsequent second-ratoon (5500 kg/ha) compared to the December harvest (10000 kg/ha). For the October harvest, LCP 85-384, HoCP 96-540, and L 97-128 had significantly higher sugar yields (6100, 5600, and 6000 kg/ha) relative to Ho 95-988 (3600 kg/ha). All varieties had decreased yields with consecutive October harvests. When developing harvest schedules, growers should consider the potential 24 to 45% yield loss in subsequent ratoons associated with the early harvest of plant-cane and first-ratoon crops.