A new sugarcane variety that will be available for Louisiana farmers to plant this year was highlighted at the 36th annual sugarcane field day at the LSU AgCenter Sugar Research Station on July 18.
The variety L 11-183 was released in 2018 by the LSU AgCenter, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service and the American Sugar Cane League.
L 11-183 can be classified as a medium-to- late-maturing variety, said AgCenter sugarcane breeder Collins Kimbeng.
Farmers will be able to order seed cane from the American Sugar Cane League, said Herman Waguespack, director of research at the league. The league has 40 secondary increase stations where seed cane is being grown this year.
During the field day, AgCenter sugarcane breeder Michael Pontif reviewed the attributes of other sugarcane varieties available to Louisiana growers.
The variety L 01-299 is the most widely grown in the state, representing more than 40 percent of all sugarcane acres. It is the standard of comparison for all other varieties, including potential new varieties under development.
"We’re in search of the variety that does as good as 299 in third stubble,” he said.
Breeders are also testing potential parent varieties for resistance to mosaic and ratooning ability, Kimbeng said.
AgCenter weed scientist Al Orgeron reviewed pre-emerge herbicides for use in fallow fields on cover crops.
PHOTO: Sugarcane breeding scientist Michael Pontiff stands before a plot of L 11-183 sugarcane. The variety has been released for commercial planting this year.
"We don’t want to give up weed control when we plant cover crops,” he said.
Soybeans are the best choice for economic cover crops, said Paul White, USDA research soil scientist. But because soybeans are a cash crop, they need to be managed.
Cowpeas are a cover crop that had been used for many years but can present problems if not totally eradicated before sugarcane is planted.
Because cover crops create heat as they compost after being killed by herbicide, farmers should wait at least two weeks between burndown and planting. "I would wait every day that I could,” White said.
Winter freezes this year pretty well eliminated brown rust in sugarcane, said AgCenter plant pathologist Jeff Hoy. Mosaic, however, is an old disease that may be reemerging as a problem.
Spread by aphids, mosaic doesn’t kill sugarcane but slows down plant development. Yield loss depends on the mosaic strain and the sugarcane variety, Hoy said.
"A tissue culture-based healthy seed cane program may allow us to grow high-yielding varieties with moderate susceptibility to mosaic,” he said.
PHOTO: Jeff Hoy discusses his research on mosaic prevention and billet planting at the 2018 LSU AgCenter Sugarcane Field Day.
Mexican rice borers and sugarcane borers have the potential of causing yield losses in the range of 15 to 20 percent, said AgCenter entomologist Blake Wilson.
The borers can be controlled by planting resistant cultivars and timely chemical applications. In samples taken from sugarcane mills last season, less than 1 percent were infected by sugarcane borers, demonstrating successful pest management throughout the industry, Wilson said.
PHOTO: Dr. Blake Wilson speaks at the 2018 LSU Sugarcane Field Day in front of a chart of various pests attacking the Louisiana sugarcane crop.
The Mexican rice borer has been moving into Louisiana in the past few years. The products and strategies used to control sugarcane borers also appear to work with the Mexican rice borer, Wilson said.
The guava root-knot nematode, which was accidently introduced into Louisiana through sweet potato storage roots from North Carolina, is the most destructive nematode in the world, said AgCenter nematologist Charlie Overstreet.
"But don’t think of it as a threat to sugarcane for the next many, many years,” he said.