|Richard Jr, Edward|
Submitted to: Sugar Journal
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/12/2008
Publication Date: 2/28/2008
Citation: Viator, R.P., Johnson, R.M., Richard Jr, E.P. 2008. Green-cane residue management in a non-tropical climate. Sugar Journal. 70(9):12.
Technical Abstract: Full retention of sugarcane, post-harvest residue often reduces subsequent crop yields in the Louisiana. A series of experiments were conducted by scientists at the USDA-ARS Sugarcane Laboratory in Houma, LA to develop management strategies to mitigate this yield loss. In the first experiment, we focused on determining the effects of different removal methods and removal timings on the growth and yield of the subsequent crops. Results suggest that the residue generated during the green-cane harvesting of sugarcane in Louisiana should be removed from harvested fields as soon after harvest as possible, by either burning or mechanical removal, to insure optimum yields. In another set of experiments with sugarcane grown on poorly-drained soils, we focused on non-burning, residue removal techniques including incorporation into the soil. Burning produced yields that were superior to all other removal options, and the control; incorporation of the residue did not increase yield compared to no incorporation. It was believed that not enough soil-to-residue contact was achieved with the current implements and that residue in the wheel furrow prevented adequate drainage, especially since this study was conducted on a poorly drained soil. Another technique evaluated was increasing the nitrogen application rate applied during normal fertilization practices in mid-spring. This additional nitrogen did aid in achieving yields similar to burning with the standard nitrogen rate, but due to the high price of nitrogen this is not an economically feasible option at this time. Finding an economically feasible alternative to burning continues to be a research challenge. We are currently investigating new removal techniques that more effectively incorporate the residue into the soil and are also screening all commercial varieties, advanced lines, and basic germplasm for tolerance to complete residue retention.