(05/17/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – The latest sugarcane variety to be released shows several positive characteristics, including good yields and cold tolerance, according to LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist Kenneth Gravois.
The variety, HoCP 09-804, is the only release this year. It was bred and selected at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, Gravois said.
The new variety began its journey toward being released back in 2004. It takes an average of 12 years from the initial cross to the release of a variety that’s ready to be planted by growers, Gravois said.
The process of releasing a new variety is a cooperative effort that concludes with a vote of three sugarcane organizations: the American Sugar Cane League, the LSU AgCenter and USDA-ARS. The three agencies have worked together since the mid-1920s.
"This variety was accepted primarily because of its good yield potential, it stubbles well and it has good cold tolerance,” Gravois said.
The grandparents of the latest variety may be familiar to many sugarcane growers – LCP-85-384, which had huge success in the state, and HoCP 85-845, which was not as widely grown.
The parents were experimental lines that were never released, Gravois said.
The new variety proved its ability to withstand lodging, or falling over, following Hurricane Isaac in 2011.
"After that storm, I was really impressed to see that it was one of the few varieties still standing,” Gravois said.
The American Sugar Cane League will distribute this variety to growers in the fall for planting. Growers normally buy 10 to 25 tons to begin growing their seed cane for the next year.
"If they buy enough to plant three to 10 acres this year, they should produce enough to plant 25 to 80 acres next year,” Gravois said.
The new HoCP 09-804 variety is susceptible to rust and to low levels of sugarcane mosaic, both diseases of sugarcane. But Gravois said that’s not a serious problem because there are fungicides available to manage the rust.
The low levels of mosaic should be managed by a clean seed program, where growers purchase tissue-culture-derived seed cane from two commercial companies in Louisiana, he said.