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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #314359

Title: Cover crop options and pros and cons in Louisiana sugarcane

item White, Paul
item CORIEL, CHRIS - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)
item VIATOR, H - LSU Agcenter

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/4/2015
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Cultivation of sugarcane in Louisiana usually involves planting seed and waiting 18 months before the harvest of the plant-cane crop. Additional stubble crops are harvested each year between Oct. and Jan. until the stubble is broken out to make the way for a new seed crop the following year. Typically three stubble crops are harvested. The period between breaking the old cane and planting the new cane seed is 8-10 months. Currently fallow practices in during the gap include physical and chemical practices. However, this fallow period has historically been used to grow a second, short-season crop to either generate farm revenue (e.g., soybean and/or wheat), or to impart beneficial characteristics on the soil making the next cane crop better (e.g., cowpea). This practice of rotating cane and legumes has seen extensive uses before the advent of chemical fertilizers. Modern agricultural practices designed to improve soil health include these cover crops. Over the past 5 years, scientist in Louisianan have grown cover crops consisting of soybean, cowpea, and sunn hemp and quantified the plant cane crop that followed. In all three examples, plant-cane yields were similar to chemically fallowed land. Other improvements to soil, including suppression of pathogenic organisms of cane, may be equally important in the long-term sustainability of cane in Louisiana. Future research will focus on non-direct benefits of cover crops, especially legumes, as suppression of cane root pathogens.