|Richard Jr, Edward|
Submitted to: Sugar Journal
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/25/2005
Publication Date: 4/30/2005
Citation: Viator, R.P., Johnson, R.M., Richard Jr, E.P. 2005. Multiple Challenges of Green-Cane Harvesting in Louisiana. Sugar Journal. 67(10):6-7.
Technical Abstract: With the widespread adoption of the chopper harvester system in Louisiana, producers are concerned about the effects of different ground and extractor fan speeds on cane yield, quality, losses, and profit, therefore an experiment was conducted to address these concerns. We tested ground speeds of 2.5, 3.0, and 3.5 mph using extractor fan speeds of 650, 850, and 1050 rpm at each ground speed to determine if extractor speed needed to be adjusted depending on the forward travel speed of the harvester. There was not a significant ground speed effect or ground speed by fan speed interaction. The 1050 fan speed resulted in cane with less leaf trash (fiber) hence high levels of recoverable sugar that translated to increased profits. Besides challenges with harvester efficiency, USDA-ARS research has indicated that a 10 to 20% yield reduction occurs in the subsequent ratoon crop if the post-harvest residue remains on the row top. A study was conducted to determine the cause of this yield loss and how to mitigate these losses. Monitoring of soil temperature and moisture indicated that this residue layer keeps the soil both saturated and cool. Studies to determine the optimal time and removal method of residue in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd ratoon crops indicated that mechanical removal from the row top and burning produce similar yields. In some cases, though, where cane was grown on heavy saturated soils, mechanical removal was inferior to burning probably due to decreased drainage caused by the residue in the wheel furrow. The results also indicated that to obtain maximum yields, residue should be removed soon after harvest (seven to ten days) or when the crop becomes dormant which is usually in January.