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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Sugarcane Research

Title: Minimizing the effects of poor sugarcane stands

item Viator, Ryan
item Richard Jr, Edward

Submitted to: Sugar Journal
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/4/2009
Publication Date: 4/1/2009
Publication URL:
Citation: Viator, R.P., Richard Jr, E.P. 2009. Minimizing the effects of poor sugarcane stands. Sugar Journal. 71(10):10-12.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Sugarcane stand establishment is crucial to produce profitable yields throughout the crop cycle. In this article, we will review some reasons for stand problems, discuss sugarcane’s ability to compensate for these problems, and describe cultural practices that may increase yields where stands are non-optimal. It is essential that plantings be made in well-prepared seedbeds using seed cane that is free or nearly free of disease. Emergence can be further enhanced if the seed cane is free of mechanical damage that may occur during its harvesting and planting. Damage can also occur due to inadequate or excessive amounts of soil placed over the freshly planted cane. Harsh herbicide applications can decrease yields especially where soil cover is inadequate. Excessive soil, especially on soils that crust, can form a physical barrier preventing shoots from emerging. Adequate soil coverage dictates the below ground development of the stubble and the number of nodal buds available for germination in the subsequent ratoon crops. In Louisiana using CP 70-321 and HoCP 96-540, research has indicated that cane can compensate for gaps as large as 90 cm, and that every 1% of meter row with gaps greater than 90 cm resulted in an average of 1.20 Mg/ha loss in cane yield. A similar study, conducted by the American Sugarcane League and the ARS Sugarcane Research Laboratory in 2008 using a variety that produces stalk populations lower than CP 70-321, showed similar results. There are certain cultural practices that may aid in decreasing the effects of poor stand establishment. Applications of vinasse, optimal nitrogen, adequate weed control, gap-filling, shaving, optimal harvester speeds, and proper post-harvest residue management may aid in crop compensation. To conclude, proper planting and harvesting is the best way to achieve optimal yields over the complete cane cycle because sugarcane has limited compensatory ability for gaps greater than 90 cm. Where gaps are present during crop emergence and crop growth is slow during the start of the growing season, insuring that weeds are controlled, fertilization is adequate, and post-harvest residues are managed can help to reduce the impacts of gaps and slowed emergence on yields and profitable longevity of the crop cycle.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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