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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #236173


Location: Sugarcane Research

Title: Screening for tolerance to saturated soil conditions for cane grown for sugar and biofuels production

item Viator, Ryan
item Waguespack, Herman
item Neil, R
item Richard Jr, Edward

Submitted to: Sugar Journal
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/22/2009
Publication Date: 2/13/2009
Publication URL:
Citation: Viator, R.P., Waguespack, H.L., Neil, R.A., Richard Jr, E.P. 2009. Screening for tolerance to saturated soil conditions for cane grown for sugar and biofuels production. Sugar Journal. 71(9):16-20.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Louisiana cane (Saccharum spp.) is often produced on heavy-textured soils which often remain saturated for extended periods during the growing and harvest season. The objective of this research was to identify commercial sugar cane and energy cane varieties that exhibit tolerance to periodic saturated soil conditions under Louisiana growing conditions. Field experiments were planted at the USDA NRCS Plant Material’s Center located in Galliano, LA on a Rita muck soil. To simulate saturated soil conditions, sections of the field were flooded with surface water for five consecutive days each month from February to August. Other sections were levied off to provide a control representing ideal drainage. The commercial sugar cane varieties HoCP 96-540 and L 99-226 showed a respective 18 and 29% reduction in sucrose yields when periodically saturated compared to the adequately-drained plots. In contrast, L 99-233 had similar sucrose yields for the saturated and control treatments. Under the periodically saturated conditions, the sucrose yields of L 99-233 (8600 kg/ha) were higher than that of HoCP 96-540 (8000 kg/ha) and L 99-226 (7500 kg/ha). The increase in sucrose yields with L 99-233 equates to an increase in gross revenue by $375/ha. Soil saturation also reduced cane tonnage by 11 and 4% for US 01-12 and L 79-1002, respectively, compared to the control plots (103 and 78 Mg/ha, respectively), but sucrose yields were increased by 640 and 1600 kg/ha for US 01-12 and L 79-1002, respectively, relative to the control plots (4000 and 1600 kg/ha). Depending on what is used to produce biofuels (fiber and/or sucrose), saturated soil conditions may improve energy yield per unit land area. These results suggest that soil properties, the possibility of soil saturation for extended periods and marketable product (sucrose and/or fiber) should be considered when deciding which varieties to plant in each field.