Submitted to: Field Crops Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/9/2003
Publication Date: 4/15/2004
Citation: Sinclair, T.R., Gilbert, R.A., Perdomo, R.E., Shine, J.M. 2004. Sugarcane leaf area development under field conditions in florida, usa. Field Crops Research. 88:171-178. Interpretive Summary: Leaf production is critical in determining the yielding capacity of any crop, but especially so for sugarcane because the leaf canopy develops very slowly. Unfortunately, no data previously existed to fully document the rate of leaf appearance and the size of individual leaves of sugarcane varieties adapted to the subtopical climates in which sugarcane is produced in the U.S. This study was undertaken to obtain these essential data and was led by a ARS- USDA scientist located at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology at Gainesville, FL. Leaf production was tracked during two years on four varieties of sugarcane grown at three locations in Florida. The rate of leaf emergence was very closely linked to the temperatures to which the plants were subjected so that cooler temperatures in the spring were particularly restrictive on leaf appearance. The four cultivars were essentially equally sensitive to temperature. The size of the individual leaves, however, varied substantially among the varieties. One variety had the first leaves on the plant that were significantly larger, which could be an important advantage in enhancing sugarcane yield.
Technical Abstract: Leaf area development is critical to establishment of a full leaf canopy to maximize interception of solar radiation and achieve high crop productivity. Previous studies have highlighted the fact that the rate of leaf emergence of sugarcane is highly dependent on temperature, but these studies were restricted to only very few tropical cultivars. Hence, there is no information concerning cultivars selected for subtropical environments. The objective of this 2-y field study was to examine the contribution of rate of leaf emergence, leaf shape, and individual leaf area to the development of plant leaf area. Four cultivars developed for the subtropical climate of Florida were compared. The dependence of leaf emergence as a function of temperature was confirmed in this study and the leaf appearance rate of CP88-1762 was significantly greater than CP72-2086. Leaf shape was found to be nearly uniform among the four cultivars although the shape factor (0.72) was different from that previously reported for sugarcane. Cultivars differed in the area of successive leaves on the stalk. Leaves produced early in development were found to be larger for one cultivar (CP88-1762) as compared to the other cultivars. These results indicated that the area of earliest leaves produced by sugarcane cultivars might be a variant that could be exploited to achieve more rapid development of crop leaf area.