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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: How to manage sugar cane in the field and factory following damaging freezes

Authors
item Legendre, B -
item EGGLESTON, GILLIAN
item Birkett, H -
item Mrini, M -
item Zehuaf, M -
item Chabaa, S -
item Assarrar, M -
item Mounir, H -

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 31, 2013
Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Citation: Legendre, B., Eggleston, G., Birkett, H., Mrini, M., Zehuaf, M., Chabaa, S., Assarrar, M., Mounir, H. 2013. How to manage sugar cane in the field and factory following damaging freezes. In: Proceedings of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists. 28:1-11.

Interpretive Summary: The exposure of sugar cane to damaging frosts occurs in approximately 25% of the sugar cane producing countries world-wide. A series of damaging freezes occurred in Morocco in February 2012, when the sugar cane had not reached maturity. Because of high levels of brown leaves in delivered cane there were high levels of polysaccharide found in the juice that contributed to the measurement of high haze polysaccharide levels. Final recommendations on how to manage a freeze in both the field and factory are described.

Technical Abstract: The exposure of sugar cane to damaging frosts occurs in approximately 25% of the sugar cane producing countries world-wide. A series of damaging freezes, -2.6, -3.3 and -2.1°C, occurred in Morocco on 4, 5 and 13 February 2012, respectively, only 2 weeks after the commencement of the harvest season. Furthermore, the sugar cane had not reached maturity with factory sugar recovery yields under 8.0%. The use of pH (litmus) paper in the field is considered a good indicator of possible deterioration of the juice when the pH is 5.0 or less, and can be used to define the level of topping to remove the deteriorated portion of the stalk prior to milling. In all, thirty fields of the three leading varieties, CP 70-321, CP 66-346, and L 62-96, were inspected. Only 13% of the fields had a juice pH of 5.0 or less which was generally limited to the uppermost internodes. The worst damage occurred in fields with cane yields of < 40 Mg/ha, regardless of variety, and which had received no irrigation water and were harvested after June 2011, the previous year. Concentrations of mannitol and/or dextran in the juice are much more reliable indicators of sugar cane Leuconostoc deterioration. Because of high levels of brown leaves (>10%) in delivered cane there were high levels of polysaccharide found in the juice that contributed to the measurement of high haze dextran levels; however, the absence of mannitol confirmed little or no deterioration had occurred from the growth of Leuconostoc. The key to success in reducing significant losses through deterioration when freezes occur are good management and close cooperation between growers and processors. Final recommendations on how to manage a freeze in both the field and factory are described.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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