New Varieties Featured at Annual Sugarcane Field Day

Linda Benedict, Bogren, Richard C.  |  8/22/2007 10:29:03 PM

One new sugarcane variety released earlier this year and two sugarcane varieties released in 2006 were featured along with three new releases of energy cane at the annual field day July 18 at the LSU AgCenter’s Sugar Research Station.

The new variety – HoCP 00-950 – was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma in cooperation with the LSU AgCenter and the American Sugar Cane League in Thibodaux, said Kenneth Gravois, sugarcane breeder and resident coordinator of the Sugar Research Station.

Gravois also said two new varieties released last year – L 99-226 and L 99-233 – are being increased for planting this year.

The field day is a way to discuss information and learn from what the researchers are doing in actual sugarcane production fields, said Warren Harang III of Donaldsonville.

“Without research, production wouldn’t happen,” said Harang, who raises 2,700 acres of sugarcane.

In 2005, the variety LCP 85-384 was planted on 91 percent of the state’s acreage, but rust disease and declining yields have led to increasing interest in new varieties, Gravois said. Since 2003, the LSU AgCenter and its USDA and American Sugar Cane League partners have released six new varieties they expect will provide improved alternatives to the old standby variety of sugarcane.

This year’s new variety, HoCP 00-950, performed well over the past three years of tests, the experts said.

The cooperating agencies released three high-fiber cane plants for biofuel applications, Gravois said.

“High-fiber canes have the potential for biofuel applications,” he said. “They’re a good start for an emerging industry.”

The sugarcane breeder said major energy companies have visited the LSU AgCenter during the past few months looking for information on manufacturing ethanol from cellulose – the fibrous parts of plants – rather than from only the sugars and starches.

Rick Bogren

(This article was published in the summer 2007 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
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