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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Postharvest Quality and Processing of Sugarcane and Sweet Sorghum for Sugar and Ethanol Production

Location: Commodity Utilization Research

Title: Ripening and postharvest deterioration

Authors
item Van Heerdan, Philippus D. R. -
item Eggleston, Gillian
item Donaldson, Robin -

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: June 18, 2012
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Current books on sugarcane physiology are thirty years out of date, and many dramatic developments have occurred since then. This book chapter represents an up-do-date review of the latest developments in true and artificial ripening of sugarcane for commercial purposes. The numerous factors affecting the ripening process are discussed. Postharvest deterioration has become a topic of major concern in recent years, particularly in areas of the world where mechanical harvesting of billeted cane has increased dramatically. The location, magnitude and nature of postharvest deterioration are discussed as well as the control and measurement of the deterioration process. Finally, because of the recent interest in bio-products from sugarcane extraneous matter (leaves and tops or growing point regions), deterioration processes in sugarcane leaves are also discussed.

Technical Abstract: True ripening of sugarcane will result in sucrose mass increases and not only increases in sucrose content. Nitrogen, crop age, temperature and water stress have been described in the literature as the main factors that influence the direct or indirect production of sucrose. The roles of these factors in the natural ripening process are discussed. However, in many production areas the environmental drivers that induce natural ripening are non-optimal during parts of the processing season. Thus the alternative practice of chemical ripening has been developed. The physiological concepts underlying chemical ripening and the agronomic and environmental factors that influence crop response to chemical ripeners are described. Residual (after) effects of chemical ripeners on subsequent crop re-growth and yield are also discussed. Furthermore, there is no point in optimizing sugarcane production for the highest and most stable sucrose yields, only to lose high concentrations of sucrose after harvest. Thus, postharvest deterioration has become a topic of major concern in recent years, particularly in areas of the world where mechanical harvesting of billeted cane has increased dramatically. The location, magnitude and nature of postharvest deterioration are discussed as well as the control and measurement of the deterioration process. Finally, because of the recent interest in bio-products from sugarcane extraneous matter (leaves and tops or growing point regions), deterioration processes in sugarcane leaves are also discussed.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014
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