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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #340558

Title: Billet-planted sugarcane responds positively to chemical seed treatments

item White, Paul
item HOY, JEFFREY - LSU Agcenter
item Webber Iii, Charles
item GRAVOIS, KENNETH - LSU Agcenter

Submitted to: American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/10/2017
Publication Date: 6/14/2017
Citation: White Jr, P.M., Hoy, J.W., Webber III, C.L., Gravois, K., Waguespack Jr., H.L. 2017. Billet-planted sugarcane responds positively to chemical seed treatments [abstract]. Journal of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists. 37:48-49.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Louisiana’s 2015 sugarcane crop was worth over $750 million and generated $2 billion in direct economic impact to the state. One of the biggest variable expenses was planting. Seed cane is costly to grow because it occupies land that could produce cane destined for a mill. Whole stalk seeding rates exceeding 8 Mg ha-1 are necessary to balance abiotic and biotic stresses arising from a short, 9-month growing season, saturated soils, and cold winter temperatures. Whole stalk harvesting equipment and hand planting labor are becoming scarce, so a viable alternative is needed. Planting cane billets, typically comprised of 3-4 internodes, is an alternative that uses a grower’s existing harvest and planting equipment with a few modifications. However, billets are reported to be more susceptible to post-plant disease and decay, when compared to whole stalks, and often exhibit lower ratoon yields. Therefore, at-planting chemical seed treatments were evaluated for improving billet cane plantings. Field trials were planted in 2014 at the USDA-ARS Ardoyne Farm in Schriever, LA, and the LSU Sugar Research Station in St. Gabriel, LA. Billets of ‘HoCP 96-540’ were cut with a combine then counted, separated, and dip-treated with: “U” Uniform® fungicide (Azoystrobin, 28.2%; Mefenoxam, 10.9%), “D” Dynasty® fungicide (Azoxystrobin, 3.2%; Fludioxonil, 2.0%; and Mefenoxam, 0.4%), “Q” Quadris Xtra® fungicide (Azoxystrobin, 18.2%; Cyproconazole, 7.3%), “C” Cruiser® insecticide (Thiamethoxam 47.6%), “U+C”, “D+C”, “Q+C”, or “P” Pine-Sol®. Non-treated whole stalk “WS” and billet “NB” checks were also included. Cane was harvested after 15 months (plant-cane crop) and 28 months (first ratoon crop). Yield varied by treatment and location. The highest plant-cane yield was observed at both locations for billets treated with Q+C (USDA, 150 Mg ha-1; LSU, 119 Mg ha-1) and Q (USDA, 139 Mg ha-1; LSU, 114 Mg ha-1). Whole stalk yields were similar at both locations (mean of 104 Mg ha-1) and lower than Q+C and Q at the USDA farm but not the LSU station. Non-treated billet plant-cane yield was higher at the USDA farm (107 Mg ha-1), when compared to the LSU station (77 Mg ha-1). The stalk sucrose concentration (0.11 kg kg-1) was similar in plant cane across location and treatment. Differences in sugar yield followed a similar trend as cane yield. Sugar yields for Q+C and Q were 15 420 kg ha-1 (USDA) and 13 340 kg ha-1 (LSU), and 16 000 kg ha-1 (USDA) and 12 970 kg ha-1 (LSU), respectively. In the first-ratoon crop, the treatment, but not the location, affected cane yield. Billets treated with Q+C (91 Mg ha-1, 9350 kg ha-1), U+C (86 Mg ha-1, 9220 kg ha-1), or D+C (85.2 Mg ha-1, 8715 kg ha-1) out yielded NB (70 Mg ha-1, 6990 kg ha-1), U (68 Mg ha-1, 7140 kg ha-1), WS (68 Mg ha-1, 6500 kg ha-1), and P (59 Mg ha-1, 5650 kg ha-1). Second ratoon cane will be harvested in the fall of 2017. Further testing is underway to confirm the results reported here that suggest seed treatment chemicals, particularly combinations of fungicides and insecticide, can provide improved billet planting yields comparable to whole stalk planting.