The American Sugar Cane League’s Variety Release Committee unanimously approved the release of two new varieties, Ho 12-615 and L 12-201, for commercial planting in the summer of 2019.
The committee is composed of representative researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Louisiana State University Agriculture Center and the League. The committee approved the decision on April 10.
Gregory Gravois, president of the League, said the release of two new varieties in one year is remarkable.
"Louisiana’s sugarcane farmers and millers have worked with the USDA and LSU for nearly 100 years in a three-way agreement to provide research for the sustainability of sugarcane in the state,” Gravois said. "New varieties keep the Louisiana sugarcane industry moving forward.”
Photo: A row of L 12-201 sugarcane on display at the 2018 Field Day at the LSU Sugarcane Research Farm in St. Gabriel. Photo by Sam Irwin.
Gravois said researchers with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Houma, LSU AgCenter’s Agricultural Experiment Station and the League coordinated their work over the past 12 years to cull thousands of potential candidates to find the two approved varieties.
Ho 12-615 is a product of the cross between TucCP 77-42 and HoCP 96-540 made at Houma, La. in 2007 and selected at Houma in 2012. It produces a high population of medium sized stalks, stubbles well and makes good sugar per acre similar to the industry’s major variety, L 01-299. The variety is also resistant to smut and moderately resistant to the sugarcane borer.
L 12-201 is the product of a cross between L 97-128 and HoCP 96-540 made at the St. Gabriel, La. LSU Sugar Station in 2007.It produces a low population of large sized stalks, makes good sugar per acre and provides good disease resistance. It also has a good stalk weight and a low percentage of fiber.
Gravois said it will take several years to know if the new varieties will work well in large scale field operations. He noted sugarcane is not grown from seeds but grown from cane stalks called seedcane. It takes several years to grow enough seedcane to expand new varieties. Farmers generally get three to four years of production from a single planting of seedcane.
"You don’t know if you’ll fall in love with the new variety,” Gravois said. "It takes time to see how they’ll do in different types of soil and other conditions. Of course, we always hope for the best, but it’s a big deal to have two new varieties available.”
Seed cane of Ho 12-615 and L 12-201 will be distributed by the League in accordance with procedures to be announced to all sugarcane growers in Louisiana on or after July 1, 2019. Inquiries concerning seed cane should be directed to the American Sugar Cane League, 206 East Bayou Road, Thibodaux, La. 70301.
Sugarcane was grown in 24 Louisiana parishes in 2018 on 459,000 acres and produced more than 1.8 million tons of raw sugar. The industry has a $3 billion economic impact on the state.