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Current News, Meetings and Talks
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1 - Welcome (1)
2 - 2017 Growth Measurements
3 - Variety Releases
4 - Tours and Visitors
5 - Current News, Meetings and Talks
6 - Archived Meetings and Talks
7 - Archived Sugarcane Growth Data
8 - Archived Maturity Data


           Photoperiod House                                     Crossing                                           Harvesting

September 9, 2015.The USDA-ARS Sugarcane Research Unit would like to announce Dr. James Todd as our new Research Geneticist. Please read the following article from the September 2015, Volume 93, Sugar Bulletin. The Louisiana sugarcane industry has another reason to count its blessings. Dr. James Todd has joined the variety development team at the USDA station in Houma. He has been hired as a commercial breeder and will manage that aspect of the program. Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, Dr. Todd received his Bachelor of Science and Masters in Biology from Midwestern State University. He became interested in plant genetics during an employment at a local nursery and decided to go for a PhD in plant genetics and breeding. He enrolled at Oklahoma State University studying switchgrass breeding. In spring 2012, he was hired by the USDA to study the world collection of sugarcane and related grasses (WCSRG). He published a study looking at the use of commercial cultivars in crossing using past genealogy data in collaboration with the Houma and LSU breeding programs. James then finished his work at Canal Point and acquired another post doc position with a team planting, harvesting and collecting energy cane, then analyzing the data from the energy cane program. He is well-published and we're glad to have him on our team.

August 9, 2014. ARS researchers Michael Grisham and Amber Keizerweerd of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA presented papers at the 2014 APS - CPS Joint Meeting -American Phytopathological Society - Canadian Phytopathological Society in Minneapolis, MN on August 9 - 13, 2014.  Dr. Grisham's abstract: Red stripe caused by Acidovirax avenae subsp. avenae in Louisiana Sugarcane; Dr. Keizerweerd's abstract: Determining seed transmissibility of sugarcane mosaic virus and sugarcane yellow leaf virus in sugarcane. This year's program offered a wide variety of special sessions, field trips, and workshops dedicated to the latest research and information on plant science and hosted 1,500 attendees from 45 countries.


July 20, 2014. ARS researcher Richard Johnson of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA  presented a talk entitled, "Variable-Rate Application of Nitrogen and Potassium Fertilizers in Louisiana Sugarcane Production" at the 12th International Conference on Precision Agriculture on July 20 - 23, 2014, in Sacramento, CA. 


June 23, 2014. Dr. Michael Grisham, Research Leader of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana attended the ARS Congressional Briefing Conference (presented by the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University) on June 23-26, 2014 at Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. as part of the New Research Leader Training Program (NRLTP).

June 17, 2014. ARS researchers from the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA participated in the annual meeting of the USDA, ARS, Sugarcane Crop Germplasm Committee (CGC) Meeting in Bonita Springs, Florida, June 17, 2014.  Participants included Drs. Anna Hale, Committee Chair; Michael Grisham, Member; Amber Keizerweerd; Yong-Boa Pan; and Richard Johnson.  Dr. Keizerweerd presented the results of the CGC-funded research project on seed transmission of sugarcane pathogens.  They also attended the 44th Annual Joint Meeting of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists in Bonita Springs, Florida, June 18-20, 2014.  The following presentations were made: Effect of sugarcane smut on yield and the relationship of soil properties with smut incidence (Grisham, June 20 at 8:50 a.m. ); Impacts of the basic breeding program (Hale, June 19 at 3:50 p.m.); Influence of foliar copper and nickel applications on sugarcane yields in brown rust infested fields in Louisiana (Johnson, June 19 at 1:30 p.m.); Segregation analysis of microsatellite (SSR) markers in sugarcane polyploids (Pan, June 20 at 8:10 a.m.); and Ho 07-613 - A potential new sugarcane variety for Louisiana (White, June 19 at 3:30 p.m.). A poster presentation was scheduled on June 19; A report on the transmissibility of Sugarcane mosaic virus and Sugarcane yellow leaf virus through seed in sugarcane (Keizerweerd).

May 14, 2014. Scientists at the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana, participated in the release of a new sugarcane variety. The Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (ARS-USDA), the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station of the LSU Agricultural Center (LSU AgCenter), and the American Sugar Cane League of the U.S.A., Inc. (ASCL), working cooperatively, developed a new sugarcane variety, Ho 07-613, for commercial planting in the summer of 2014. Ho 07-613 is a product of the cross between HoCP 00-905 and HoCP 96-540 made at the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma (Ho), LA in 2002 and selected at Houma (Ho), Louisiana in 2004. Results of numerous field tests at research stations and cooperator farms have been compiled and analyzed.  In all three crop years (first-year crop and two ratoon crops), Ho 07-613 produces significantly more sugar/ton than HoCP 96-540; the prominent sugarcane variety currently being grown in Louisiana.  The variety is resistant or moderately resistant to the diseases of economic importance in Louisiana and is resistant to the major insect pest, the sugarcane borer.

April 21, 2014. ARS researchers, Drs. Michael Grisham, Paul White, Anna Hale and Mr. Edwis Dufrene of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA traveled to Monte Alto, Texas during the week of April 21, 2014 to participate in a sugarcane seminar sponsored by Rio Farms, Inc. They discussed variety development cooperation and exchanged research ideas to further cooperative efforts.

January 16, 2014. Drs. Chuck Webber and Paul White, Research Agronomists with the Sugarcane Research Unit visited the 7th grade science class at St. Matthew's Episcopal School in Houma, LA. The scientists showed a video on the Louisiana sugarcane industry, discussed the growth physiology of sugarcane, and brought along products from the industry including raw sugar, molasses, bagasse, and cane syrup. They left the students with billets of commercial sugarcane to take home and plant or chew.

October 31 - November 1, 2013. Drs. Richard Johnson and Michael Grisham of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma , LA attended the Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association's 11th Annual Fall Researchers Retreat in Marksville, LA.

September 25, 2013. Dr. Caleb Dalley of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA was invited to attend Syngenta's Mid-South Regional Cooperator's Meeting in Memphis, TN to provide input on crop protection products.

September 8-14, 2013. Dr. Richard Johnson was invited to present a talk entitled "Precision agricultural and remote sensing applications in the Louisiana sugarcane industry" at the XIX Congress of the Association of Sugarcane Technologists of Central America in San Jose, Costa Rica.

August 16, 2013. Dr. David Burner, Edwis Dufrene, David Verdun, Michael Duet and Lawrence Lovell, Jr. of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA participated in the annual variety advancement committee meeting at the American Sugar Cane League (ASCL) office in Thibodaux, LA. Each member of the committee, which also includes Louisiana State University Ag Center and ASCL, discussed positive and negative attributes of potential sugarcane cultivars, and decided which ones to advance for further field testing.

August 10-14, 2013. Drs. Michael Grisham and Amber Keizerweerd of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA attended the American Phytopathological Society annual meeting in Austin, Texas. Dr. Grisham presented two papers: Development of loop-mediated isothermal amplification for detection of Leifsonia xyli subsp. syli in sugarcane and Introduction of orange rust caused by Puccinia kuehnii into the Louisiana sugarcane industry. Dr. Keizerweerd submitted a poster presentation entitled Genetic diversity of viruses causing mosaic in Louisiana sugarcane.

July 18, 2013. Mr. Eric Petrie of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana received the 2013 Lafourche Parish Sugarcane Field Day award for his contributions to sugarcane research during his career with the USDA-ARS and for his invaluable assistance at the annual LaTerre Master Gardeners Vegetable Field Day held at the SRU.

July 18, 2013. Mr. Eric Petrie of the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA gave a field day presentation of the fallow weed control demonstration plots at the Lafourche Sugarcane Field Day in Raceland, LA. The meeting was attended by sugarcane growers, millers, researchers, and consultants primarily from within Lafourche Parish, LA. Mr. Petrie discussed benefits of herbicides and herbicide tank-mixes for controlling weeds in fallow sugarcane fields. The demonstration plots, designed and applied by Dr. Caleb Dalley, Mr. Norris Matherne, Mr. Eric Petrie, and Mr. Frank Randall, showed examples of weed control with these herbicides.

August 14 - 17, 2013. Drs. Michael Grisham, Anna Hale, Ryan Viator, and William White of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana were invited to speak at the Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers Meeting in Monte Alto, Texas concerning various aspects of the ARS sugarcane improvement program. The meeting will include indoor presentations as well as open discussions and a field tour of ARS-developed sugarcane varieties provided by ARS to Rio Farms, Inc. under a material transfer agreement (MTA). Discussions will explore joint ARS-Rio Farms research opportunities including ongoing evaluation of the commercial potential of ARS-developed sugarcane varieties for the Texas industry; studies of the Mexican rice borer, a sugarcane pest that threatens the Louisiana sugarcane industry; and experiments related to the effect of environmental and biological stresses on sugarcane.

July 23, 2013. Drs. Paul White, Anna Hale, and Mike Grisham, of the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA, and Dr. Ed Richard (formerly with ARS) hosted Paulo Antonio Skaf Filho of Brazil. Mr. Filho is the Director of COMBIO, a company that builds biomass-based power plants in a wide range of industrial companies, including refineries and chemical plants. He was in Houma to discuss energycane breeding and production practices being developed by ARS scientists and how these practices could transfer to Brazil to build COMBIO's clientele.

July 17-20, 2013. Dr. David Burner of the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA met with breeding staff at ARS' Sugarcane Field Station, Canal Point, Florida to plan and discuss the upcoming crossing season.

July 17-19, 2013. Dr. Caleb Dalley of the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA was invited to present research findings at the "First Seminar on Weed Control and Sugarcane Ripeners" at the Guatemalan Sugarcane Research and Training Center (CENGICA•A) in Santa Lucia, Esquintla, Guatemala. This seminar was organized by The Guatemalan Association of Sugarcane Technologists (La Asociaci•n de T•cnicos Azucareros de Guatemala) and attended by more than 300 people associated with sugarcane production and processing in Guatemala and other Central American countries. Dr. Dalley was asked to give two 90 minute presentations: the first on weed control in sugarcane and the second on the use of sugarcane ripeners. Other presenters at this conference included researchers from Brazil, Costa Rica, USA, and Guatemala.

June 26, 2013. ARS research scientists from the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA have been invited to attend the American Sugar Cane League Contact Committee Meeting on June 26, 2013 in Thibodaux, Louisiana. The central theme for the meeting will be sugarcane breeding. Scientists working in the variety development program at both USDA and LSU will take center stage to discuss the many phases of the Louisiana sugarcane-breeding program. The important work of breeding and selection of commercial varieties will be discussed by Dr. David Burner and Dr. Collins Kimbeng (LSU), while Dr. Anna Hale will present information on the USDA basic breeding program.

June 24-27, 2013. Dr. William White of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana attended the 28th Congress of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ISSCT) in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Unofficial participation was placed at 850 delegates representing 50 countries. Dr. White presented two papers at the conference: Erianthus: A sugarcane relative with potential as a source of resistance to the stem borer Diatraea saccharalis (F.) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) and Mendel's legacy lives through management of sugarcane pests. The ISSCT Congress brings together sugarcane technologists from around the world and therefore fulfills an important role of keeping scientists up to date on one of the world's most important agricultural commodity.

June 21, 2013. Drs. Anna Hale and Charles Webber, with assistance from biological technicians Jennifer Chiasson, Atticus Finger, and Chris Adams of the USDA-ARS-Sugarcane Research Unit, led a tour and gave presentations to students and faculty from Tulane University, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine of New Orleans, LA. The students and faculty toured the USDA Ardoyne Farm in Schriever, LA. Topics and presentations of the tour included the breeding program, planting strategies, field harvesting techniques, soil conservation, and operation of the sugar cane laboratory.

June 20, 2013. Drs. Anna Hale, Ryan Viator, Chuck Webber, and Paul White of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana led a tour and gave presentations to the participants from the 2013 Nichols State University Raw Cane Sugar Manufacturers' Institute. Nichols State University is located in Thibodaux, LA, and hosts the annual institute. The participants, an international group of researchers, agronomists, and millers, toured the USDA Ardoyne Farm in Schriever. Topics of the tour included the breeding program, field harvesting techniques, soil conservation, and operating the station's sugar laboratory.

June 20-21, 2013. Dr. Michael Grisham, Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA has been invited to make presentations at the Symbiosis Conference: Expanding Commercialization of Mutualistic Microbes to Increase Bioenergy Crop Production hosted by The U.S. Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. The title of Dr. Grisham's presentation is "Potential of Diazotrophic Bacteria Associated with Sugarcane for Energycane Production."

June 17, 2013. Dr. Richard Johnson of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana was invited to give a talk at the Bayouland Young Farmers Meeting in Paincourtville and at the Assumption Parish Field Day in Napoleonville on July 9th.

June 12-14, 2013. Scientists from the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA will be attending the 43rd Annual Joint Meeting of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists in Panama City Beach, FL. Topics: Yields of giant Miscanthus, giant reed, and sugarcane as bioenergy feedstocks on an upland soil (Burner); In-field assessment of ratoon cold tolerance of Pennisetum and Saccharum clones (Burner); Development of orange rust of sugarcane in Louisiana (Grisham); Identifying a new causal agent of mosaic in Louisiana sugarcane (Keizerweerd); Enzymatic analysis of mannitol as a measure of post-freeze juice degradation in sugar and energy cane (Hale); Effect of potassium fertilizer application on sugarcane yields in Louisiana (Johnson); Use of SSR markers for DNA fingerprinting and diversity analysis of Pakistani sugarcane (Saccharum spp. Hybrids) cultivars (Pan); and Cultural practices to increase ratooning (Viator).

June 4, 2013. Thirteen campers (ages 8-13), along with 4 instructors, from the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Camp visited the Sugarcane Research Unit's (SRU) research farm in Schriever, LA. Dr. Paul White demonstrated how soil cover affects erosion using a rainfall simulator and special troughs and funnels. Mr. Harold Callahan and Mr. Hubert Zeller demonstrated how the slopes of our fields are regulated to reduce soil runoff using laser guided grading equipment. Mr. Randy Richard talked about the insects of sugarcane and how we have both good and bad ones in our environment. Ms. Kathy Warnke and Ms. Jeri Maggio discussed the disease problems in our industry and allowed the campers to load a PCR gel with dye to demonstrate the tools used to diagnose plant diseases as well as to look under the microscope to see the spores of rust disease. Mr. Eric Petrie explained the process of analyzing the juice in our lab and the equipment needed to complete this task. The group boarded a trailer and took a ride through the cane field to see firsthand what they had just learned about.

June 1, 2013. The LaTerr Master Gardeners, an extension based group, along with USDA Peoples Garden Project hosted a Vegetable Field Day for the local community on the grounds of the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, Louisiana. One hundred and twenty people turned out for the occasion and viewed the garden plots containing many varieties of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, beans, corn, and a variety of flowers. Presentations were made by several extension personnel as well as USDA member Mr. Eric Petrie who acts as the liaison between the two agencies. Those in attendance were given the opportunity to ask questions, share their successes, taste many of the varieties of tomatoes, and rate their flavor. This is the 4th year the USDA has partnered with this group and employees enjoy sharing their knowledge with the community. Most of the produce that is harvested is donated to the local food bank.

May 31, 2013. ARS Scientists and support staff from the Sugarcane Research Unit participated in the USDA-LSU AgCenter Sugarcane Field Day at the USDA Ardoyne Research Farm, Schriever, LA. Attendees toured the SRU's newest facilities - Crossing & photoperiod house and head house & storage buildings. The following topics were presented throughout the day: Varieties (Edwis Dufrene), Soil fertility management: prioritizing inputs to maintain yields and insure profitability (Johnson); Billet and whole stalk planting and planters (Viator); Sugarcane varietal competition with johnsongrass and bermudagrass (Dalley); Intercropping and soil additives for improved soil health (Paul White/Chuck Webber); and Report on Spring 2013 Seedling planting (David Burner). Presentations were also made by employees of the LSU AgCenter (Mr. Rick Louque and Dr. Michael Salassi), and the American Sugar Cane League (Mr. Jim Simon).

May 23-27, 2013. Drs. Anna Hale and Yong-Bao Pan, Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA were invited to speak at the International Workshop on Noblisation of Erianthus in Fiji, sponsored under the European Union African Caribbean Pacific (EU-ACP) Sugar Research Program. The workshop was organized by the Sugarcane Research Institute of Fiji (SRIF) and observed by Program Coordinator Mr. Jean Cyril Dagallier from Belgium. Dr. Hale's presentation was entitled, "The use of Erianthus in the USDA's germplasm enhancement program in Houma, Louisiana". Dr. Pan's presentation was entitled, "Effectiveness of molecular techniques in identification of Erianthus hybrids". Ten sugarcane breeders and four molecular geneticists from nine countries were invited to the workshop to deliberate and share experiences on Erianthus hybrid production.

May 13 - 17, 2013. Dr. Richard Johnson of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, Louisiana was invited to present aspects of his research in precision agriculture to the staff of El Viejo Sugar Mill and Plantation, in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Dr. Johnson was also asked to evaluate the sponsor's current precision agriculture operations and provide input and suggestions for their improvement. The presentation entitled "Precision Agricultural Applications in the Louisiana Sugarcane Industry" was well received and numerous opportunities for collaboration were discussed.

May 6, 2013. Dr. Amaresh Chandra, a Principal Scientist and Head from the Division of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow, India, will be visiting the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA from 05/06/2013 to 02/22/2014. He will be working with Drs. Mike Grisham and Y.-B. Pan on a sugarcane molecular marker project targeting sugar metabolism. Dr. Chandra's visit is sponsored by a DBT-CREST Fellowship from India government.

April 22, 2013. Earth Day event. Employees at the Sugarcane Research Unit celebrated Earth Day this year at the Ardoyne Research Farm in Schriever, Louisiana. A silver leaf maple tree was planted near the new facility which will provide a shaded area in the future. To promote environmental awareness, several staff members donated their time and resources to construct very imaginative planters out of recycled pallets. A slide show with photos of the completed projects was presented while employees enjoyed a pot luck lunch.

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