Best Management Practices Following a Freeze in Sugarcane

Freeze Affected Cane.

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High quality cane supply. Cane that is as free of mud, deteriorated tops and stalks, and other trash will greatly help processing at the mill. Deteriorated cane will negatively affect crystallization at the mill. When mills can no longer crystallize sugar, the factory closes. A high-quality cane supply is a must.

  • Do not panic. The industry has experienced freezes in past years and has successfully completed the grinding season by following good harvesting practices.
  • Areas of higher elevation tend to be warmer. A few degrees of temperature can make a difference during a freeze event, as much as 2 – 3 Fº on some farms. Areas on the farm at higher elevation can have less freeze damage.
  • Standing cane vs. down cane. Within the same variety, standing cane has less freeze damage than cane that is lodged. Cold air pools close to the ground.
  • Varieties make a difference. L 99-226, L 03-371, Ho 07-613, L 12-201, and Ho 12-615 have poor cold tolerance and should be harvested first. Refer to the table on page two for sugarcane variety classification for cold tolerance. HoCP 04-838 has the best cold tolerance in the group and should be harvested last.
  • Survey on a field-by-field basis. A harvest schedule should be made based on a field-by-field survey. Elevation and crop erectness can be more important than variety. To survey for cold damage, cut stalks of cane lengthwise. Look for discoloration and water-soaked conditions. After an initial survey is done and these recommendations are considered, a harvest schedule should be prepared.

It can take up to a week to determine the full extent of a freeze. Weather after a freeze in important. Cool/cold weather will slow cane deterioration; warm weather will accelerate deterioration.

  • Topping and cleaning cane. Where possible top cane. For growers with combines, run the fans aggressively and keep good blades in the choppers. It is better to leave a small amount of cane in the field than to leave the whole field behind later.
  • What about burning? Burning can help improve cane quality, and burning can contribute to poor quality cane. Burn only what you will harvest for that day’s quota.
    • Do not burn when night temperatures are greater than 50º F.
    • Burning will improve combine capacity and decrease trash at the mill.
    • Burned cane not processed within 12-20 hours will contribute to dextran problems.
    • Make firebreaks to prevent accidental spread of fire in large blocks of cane. Many fields are large and cannot be burned for only single day quotas. Do not burn these fields because mills will have very little flexibility with quotas.
    • When burning, follow the smoke and ash management guidelines.
  • Overnight loads. Overnight loads should be stopped. Do not pre-load on off days.

  • Sugarcane Variety Post-Freeze Deterioration

    HoCP 96-540HoCP 00-950L 99-226
    L 01-283L 01-299L 03-371
    HoCP 04-838Ho 05-961Ho 07-613
    HoCP 09-804L 12-201
    L 11-183Ho 12-615
    Ho 13-739

    8/7/2020 7:16:46 PM
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