New sugarcane varieties take pressure off 384

Linda Benedict, Gravois, Kenneth  |  2/12/2010 10:52:29 PM

LSU AgCenter sugarcane researchers showcased new varieties at the sugarcane field day held July 20 at the Sugar Research Station at St. Gabriel.

The three varieties – HOCP96-540, L97-128 and HO95-988 – all have good yield potential and attractive characteristics, but the real interest stems from getting some of the sugarcane acreage away from the state’s dominant variety LCP89-384. That variety made up 91 percent of the Louisiana sugarcane crop last year.

“That’s not a good situation,” said Kenneth Gravois, station coordinator. “That’s a situation that puts all of our eggs in one basket.”

The 384 variety has been around for 12 years. While it’s been a good variety that growers are comfortable with, they are concerned by the amount of rust disease showing up in their fields.

“384 was resistant to rust, but Mother Nature is dynamic. She will not lay over and play dead,” warned Gravois.

The expert said he suspects either the rust organism mutated or the characteristic was “selected out” of the variety over the years.

“Each year since 2000 we’ve seen increasing levels of rust, and that is alarming to Louisiana sugarcane growers,” Gravois said.

Rust is a foliar disease of sugarcane and will reduce the plants’ height and ultimately the yields.

Researchers also showcased two varieties for release in 2006. The two varieties have good yield potential, and one has the added benefit of insect resistance.

“It’s one of the first varieties in a number of years with resistance to the sugarcane borer,” Gravois said.

Tobie Blanchard

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