The effects of nitrogen on sugarcane sucker production and sugar yield
Sugarcane suckers, otherwise known as bullshoots or water sprouts have been reported in south Louisiana. Suckers are physiologically immature shoots and tend to accumulate less sucrose compared to mature stalks. Suckers may affect productivity by increasing biomass while contributing little to sucrose content. An understanding of the environmental and cultural factors responsible for sugarcane sucker production in Louisiana may provide answers that could be useful in minimizing its negative
... ct on production. The study objective was to investigate the effects of nitrogen (N) treatments on sugarcane and sugarcane sucker production in variety HoCP 85-845 under Louisiana growing conditions. This variety had previously been identified as having a high propensity to produce suckers. A secondary objective was to investigate the effects of a split N application on sugarcane sucker production and sugar yield. Two experiments were conducted; the first was planted in the fall of 2000 (plant cane data) on a Sharky clay soil and a second was planted in the fall of 2001 (ratoon and plant cane data) on a Commerce silt loam soil. Significant differences (P ≤ 0.05) in sucker population were found among treatments in the 2001 ratoon crop in mid-September before Tropical Storm Isidore and Hurricane Lili affected southern Louisiana. Severe lodging due to the two tropical systems prevented stalk counts from being made in the 2001 plantcane experiment. At time of harvest (mid-December) significant differences were found for cane yield, sucrose content, and stalk weight in both experiments however no significant differences were found among treatments for sucker population. These results were not conclusive because of the high amounts of rainfall and severe lodging experienced. On iv average, suckers contributed 1.6% and 0.93% to total cane yield in the 2001 ratoon and plantcane crops, respectively. For sugar yield in the same year and crops, 9.4% and 2.2% of total sugar yield was attributed to suckers, respectively. Given the added costs of transportation and milling, suckers are likely to have an overall negative effect on sugar production and processing.