New sugarcane variety featured at field day

U.S. Department of Agriculture agronomist Ed Dufrene, far right, tells farmers about the characteristics of new sugarcane varieties during the Sugarcane Field Day for St. Martin, St. Landry and Lafayette parishes on July 25.
(Photo by Bruce Shultz)

Herman Waguespack, of the American Sugar Cane League, tells farmers about a new twin-row sugarcane planter under development. He spoke at the St. Martin, Lafayette and St. Landry parishes sugarcane field day held July 25.
(Photo by Bruce Shultz)

With planting season around the corner, sugarcane farmers learned about new varieties and an automated planting machine demonstrated at the St. Martin, Lafayette and St. Landry parishes sugarcane field day held July 25.
U.S. Department of Agriculture agronomist Ed Dufrene said L01-299 probably will be the next leading variety replacing HoCP 96-540, with good resistance to sugarcane borers and good cold tolerance.
He also said sugarcane variety Ho7-613 is a new option with good disease resistance and moderate insect resistance, although it could have lodging problems.
LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist Kenneth Gravois said farmers are no longer likely to put more than half of the state’s crop into one variety. “We learned that lesson with LCP 85-384,” he said.
HoCP 96-540 has remained under 50 percent of the state’s acreage, he said.
Research is what keeps farmers in business by helping solve their problems, such as the sugarcane mosaic virus, Gravois said. “Never take for granted the power of institutions to solve problems.”
Herman Waguespack, agronomist for the American Sugar Cane League, demonstrated a planter that originated in Australia. The machine plants cane billets on two rows 24 inches apart. He said work continues on improving how the device covers the seed cane.
LSU AgCenter entomologist Julien Beuzelin said wireworms have become a major insect problem in sugarcane. Planting early could make a crop more vulnerable to the pest that feeds on buds and roots.
Keeping a field clean of grasses could reduce wireworm populations, he said.
Insecticides Thimet and Mocap are effective, he said, but tests of neonicotinoids failed to show any benefits.
Bait stations using fermented corn and wheat can determine if wireworms are present, Beuzelin said, and the threshold is just one wireworm in a bait station.
LSU AgCenter weed scientist Al Orgeron said eastern black nightshade is becoming more of a problem that is spreading throughout the cane-growing areas. He advised that the herbicides Brash and Calisto can control the weed when it is shorter than 6 inches tall.
He also detailed a study that compared glyphosate and Moddus as ripeners. The study showed glyphosate was more efficient, he said.
Jim Simon, American Sugar Cane League manager, said the Mexican sugar dumping investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce continues, and a hearing will be held in Washington on a possible duty to be imposed on subsidized Mexican sugar.
Mexico is considering a possible settlement, and that has helped boost sugar prices recently, he said.
Simon also said legislation was approved this year that requires the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to investigate complaints about burning cane fields.
The original intent of the legislation was to outlaw burning because of complaints in Lafayette Parish, he said. “We’ve got to do a better job of being good stewards.”
Simon also advised farmers to keep records of their burning activities. He said a Plaquemines Parish farmer was able to prevail in a lawsuit because he maintained proper records.
Farmers also saw demonstration of an unmanned aerial vehicle.
Jimmy Flanagan, LSU AgCenter county agent in St. Mary Parish, said some farmers are using the UAVs to check how well a field drains after rainfall. Research is being conducted to analyze fields from the air to determine how much fertilizer should be applied in specific areas after yield data is obtained, he said.
“Really, it’s left up to the imagination of how you can use these things,” Flanagan said.

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