If sugarcane varieties are the lifeblood of the Louisiana sugar industry, then variety selection is one of your most important decisions. That decision has long-term consequences. The goal is to maximize profitability in each year of a long crop cycle.
Sugarcane variety choices for planting in 2020 include three that should occupy the majority of planted acreage (HoCP 96-540, L 01-299 and HoCP 09-804) and four that should occupy minor acreage (HoCP 00-950, L 01-283, HoCP 04-838 and L 11-183). L 12-201 and Ho 12-615, new variety releases from 2019, should be expanded to determine where each might fit in your farming operation. Ho 13-739 was released in 2020. See the July 2020 issue of the Sugar Bulletin for more information.
Variety selection should emphasize managing risk over the entire crop cycle. Yield potential, disease and insect resistance, stubbling ability and cold tolerance are the primary driving forces for variety selection. Your own experience and record keeping are critical in the decision-making process.
No single sugarcane variety is perfect. Each has inherent risk. With brown rust and so many other diseases and also new insect pests and tough winters, variety diversification is important. No single variety should occupy more than 50% of your 2020 planting. With the release of each new sugarcane variety, the Louisiana sugar industry remains poised to handle the many challenges faced each growing season. Good luck with planting in 2020!
Sugarcane Outfield Variety Trials: 2017-2019
Plant Cane (Three-year means)
First Stubble (Three-year means)
Second Stubble (Three-year means)
Third Stubble (Three-year means)
Outfield variety trials are cooperatively conducted by the LSU AgCenter, USDA-ARS and American Sugar Cane League. The trials are grown at 12 locations across sugarcane-growing areas of south Louisiana.
HoCP 96-540 was the second-most grown variety in 2019. The variety has provided growers with excellent yield potential. It responds well to ripeners and has good cold tolerance and rebounds well from drought conditions. The disease package is good, with the exception being brown rust. Budget for a fungicide application. It pays. The variety is hard to beat when planted on your best land. HoCP 96-540’s weakness is stubbling ability, especially when harvested under wet conditions. Poor stubble stands can lead to increased grass pressure and lower yields. The wet grinding of 2018 hurt older stubble fields of HoCP 96-540. Growers were glad to have HoCP 96-540 after the freeze of November 13, 2019.
To manage risk in the variety, it should occupy 10%-20% of your farm’s acreage.
Released in 2007, this variety has met with mixed reactions. HoCP 00-950 has the highest sugar per ton of any variety released by the Louisiana sugarcane breeding program. Sugar per acre yields in plant cane are very good, but there can be a decrease in stubble cane yields that is not always offset by high sugar per ton. HoCP 00-950’s best fit is on well-drained, sandier land. The variety has been used when growers run out of ripened cane or on rainy days. In fact, many growers have seen sugar per ton levels rise in these situations. This variety has a good disease package, but in wet summers the disease red stripe can cause yield loss. HoCP 00-950 can have some top breakage in high winds.
Growers should consider planting a small acreage of HoCP 00-950 on their better land.
L 01-283 has good sugar per acre and erectness, excellent stubbling ability and good cold tolerance. Naturally occurring off-types began appearing in the variety soon after release. High levels of off-types can decrease sugar per acre in L 01-283. Off-types are stress-induced. Keep the variety on your sandier land to decrease the percentage of off-types. The variety overwinters well, and early spring and summer growth is impressive. Early harvest sugar and tonnage in the variety make it a good choice. Watch for late-season brown rust and borer infestations. Budget for a fungicide to control rust. It pays.
Keep planted acreage around 5%-10% and on your best land. L 01-283 is not for everyone, but it is an important variety for some growers.
L 01-299 was released in 2009 and is the leading variety grown in the state. The appeal is high tonnage and a long crop cycle because of superior stubbling ability. L 01-299 is the best heavy land cane that this industry has ever produced. L 01-299 has resistance to the sugarcane borer and brown rust. Watch for smut, which is more prevalent in plant cane and tends to decrease in older stubble crops. L 01-299 possesses a level of field resistance to smut. L 01-299 is susceptible to the disease brown stripe, which is at its highest level early in the growing season. The variety is slow to emerge after planting and should not be covered too deeply. In recent years, the variety has struggled to reestablish after being cut for seed cane. Try treating your seed cane like a spring crop after planting — cultivate, apply herbicide and put out a starter fertilizer. Because of its high tonnage and tolerance to glyphosate, many growers have used higher rate ranges of glyphosate for ripening. L 01-299 will be widely planted in 2020. Keep the planted acreage near 30%-35%.
HoCP 04-838 was released in 2011 and has a very good disease package, good harvesting characteristics and resistance to the sugarcane borer. Most importantly, HoCP 04-838 has superior cold tolerance. The variety is like HoCP 96-540 in that it has been planted primarily in light soils. Yield in older stubble crops has been erratic. The variety does not take drought well. HoCP 04-838 makes a good stand of cane, but that does not always translate into yield in the stubble crops. Position the variety for late harvest to take advantage of its excellent cold tolerance. Numerous cold tolerance tests show that HoCP 04-838 has the slowest rate of deterioration after a freeze. At harvest, clean the variety aggressively to help lower its fiber content.
HoCP 04-838 should occupy 5% of your planted acres in areas scheduled for late harvest as part of managing for early freezes.
Released in 2016, HoCP 09-804 has a high population of small-diameter stalks. The variety has excellent yield potential and high sucrose content and stubbles well. HoCP 09-804 possesses moderate cold tolerance. Growers have seen better performance in lighter soil types. HoCP 09-804 is moderately susceptible to brown rust and brown stripe. The variety is early maturing and responds well to the ripener glyphosate. Manage mosaic and other diseases through a healthy seed program. HoCP 09-804 is a good choice to replace other early maturing varieties, such as HoCP 00-950 and L 01-283.
It is recommended to plant 20%-30% of your acreage in this variety.
In 2018, L 11-183 was released to the Louisiana sugar industry. The variety was derived from a cross between HoCP 92-624 and LCP 85-384. L 11-183 has a moderate population of larger-diameter stalks. Its rolling canopy and broad leaves provide good shading. The variety has excellent yield potential, good sucrose content and good stubbling ability. The new variety has moderate cold tolerance based on recent freeze tests. The variety is better adapted to lighter soils. L 11-183 is susceptible to brown rust but is resistant to the other major diseases of sugarcane. The variety can lodge.
Acreages of the new variety should be watched closely to see the fit in your farming operation.
In 2019, L 12-201 was released to the Louisiana sugar industry. The variety was derived from a cross between L 97-128 and HoCP 96-540. L 12-201 has a moderate population of larger-diameter stalks. This variety has excellent yield potential and good sucrose content. L 12-201 possesses a good disease package. The variety is susceptible to the sugarcane borer. Caution: Its leaf sheaths have spines (hairs) much like LCP 85-384, its grandparent. In a freeze tolerance test conducted in 2019, the variety rated as poor for cold tolerance.
L 12-201 should be increased in 2020. Keep in mind the cold tolerance rating as you place the variety on the farm.
In 2019, Ho 12-615 was released to the Louisiana sugar industry. Ho 12-615 has a high population of small-diameter stalks. The variety was derived from a cross between TucCP 77-42 (from Argentina) and HoCP 96-540. The variety has excellent cane tonnage and sucrose content like L 01-299. The variety stubbles well and has an excellent disease package. You will see some brown stripe in the spring. Ho 12-615 has a dark green and erect canopy. In a freeze tolerance test conducted in 2019, the variety rated as poor for cold tolerance.
Ho 12-615 will be widely planted in 2020. Keep in mind the cold tolerance rating as you place fields on your farm.
In 2020, Ho 13-739 was released to the Louisiana sugar industry. Ho 13-739 has a moderate population of larger-diameter stalks. The variety was derived from a cross between Ho 06-9610 and HoCP 04-838. The variety has good yield potential and high sucrose content like HoCP 09-804. The variety has an excellent disease package, and early test performances indicate this variety is best for sandier soil types. Ho 13-739 has a dark green and erect canopy. Based on one cold tolerance test conducted in 2019, the variety rated as moderate-good, which is encouraging. Everyone should apply for seed cane, which can be obtained from the American Sugar Cane League. See the July 2020 issue of the Sugar Bulletin. Seed cane supply is plentiful.
Plant the initial 2020 seed cane on good land and then, as always, see what it will do on your tougher ground.
For tables on Characteristics for Recommended Commercial Sugarcane Varieties and Louisiana Sugarcane Variety Trends by Variety and Year, please see PDF.