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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Sugarcane Chopper Harvester Extractor Fan and Ground Speed Effects on Sugarcane Yield, Cane Quality, and Field Losses

Authors
item Viator, Ryan
item Richard Jr, Edward
item Viator, B - CALVIN VIATOR & ASSOC
item Jackson, W - ASCL, THIBODAUX
item Waguespack, H - ASCL, THIBODAUX
item Birkett, H - LSU, AUDUBON SUGAR INST

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2006
Publication Date: January 1, 2007
Citation: Viator, R.P., Richard Jr, E.P., Viator, B.J., Jackson, W., Waguespack, H., Birkett, H. 2007. Sugarcane chopper harvester extractor fan and ground speed effects on yield and quality. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 23(1):31-34.

Interpretive Summary: Operational settings on sugarcane harvesters are extremely important in the harvesting of green sugarcane with today’s chopper harvesters, since one is relying solely on the harvester to remove leafy material instead of the traditional pre-harvest burn method. The objective of this research was to determine the effects of ground speed and cleaning fan speed on harvesting efficiency by measuring gross cane yields, juice quality parameters that influence sugar yields, and field losses. Variables included harvester ground speeds of 4, 4.8, and 5.6 kilometers/hour and extractor fan speeds of 650, 850 (most commonly used), and 1050 revolutions/minute (rpms) and foliage and soil conditions that were either dry (optimal) or wet/muddy (poor). Under the optimal field conditions of low leaf and soil moisture, the high fan speed (1050 rpms) increased sugar content by 10% but decreased gross cane yield by 15% compared to the two lower fan speeds resulting in similar sugar yields for all fan settings. Under wet/muddy conditions, the high fan speed decreased cane yield by 13% without an increase in sugar content, resulting in lower sugar yields than the two lower extractor fan settings. Ground speed, under both field conditions, did not affect cane yield or quality. This study demonstrates that the operation of chopper harvesters at optimum efficiencies to remove extraneous leaf matter is dependent on field conditions and that the true benefits to the grower to insuring that chopper harvesters are operated at maximum efficiencies lies in a reduction in input costs (fuel, labor, equipment) to deliver a quality product at the same yield potential to the raw sugar processor. With less extraneous leaf material delivered to the processor, sugar recoveries are increased which in turn results in less input costs at the factory and a greater payoff to the grower.

Technical Abstract: Operational settings on chopper harvesters are extremely important in green-cane harvesting since one is relying solely on the harvester to remove extraneous matter instead of the traditional pre-harvest burn method. The objective of this research was to determine the combined effect of selected ground and fan speeds on sugar yield, cane quality, and field losses using the Cameco CH3500. In both 2003 and 2004, a split-plot experiment was performed at harvest with the main plots being ground speeds of 4.0, 4.8, and 5.6 km h-1 and subplots being primary extractor fan speeds of 650, 850, and 1050 rpm. Under the optimal conditions of low leaf and soil moisture, the 1050 rpm fan speed increased TRS by 10% but decreased cane yield by 15% compared to the two lower fan speeds resulting in similar sugar yields for all fan settings. Under poor conditions (high leaf and soil moisture), the 1050 rpm fan speed decreased cane yield by 13% without an increase in TRS, resulting in lower sugar yields than the low or medium fan settings. Ground speed, under both conditions, did not affect cane yield or quality. The Cameco CH3500’s performance was similar to older model harvesters, with good cleaning performance under ideal conditions with a primary fan speed of 1050 rpm, but decreasing performance under poor conditions regardless of fan speed.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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