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FAQ- Cane quality vis-a-vis harvest

FAQ Cane Quality

  1. What is meant by maturity / ripening in sugarcane?

In sugarcane by maturity or ripeness it is generally meant the stage at which thejuice in the cane stalk contains an economic level of sucrose and not to the change over of the crop from vegetative to reproductive phase. At this stage, the stalk will contain stored sugar to support reproduction, but its sugar storage potential has not necessarily been realized. In a simple way, ripening is storage of excess sucrose. If juice pol and purity percentages are more than 16 and 85, respectively the cane is considered to be ripe. Several factors like soil fertility, added fertilizers (quantity and time), quality and quantity of irrigation water, pests and disease attack in addition to variety and weather parameters actually decide the maturity of the cane.

  1. How to determine the maturity / ripeness of sugarcane?

Small mill test: The juice is analysed for brix, sucrose and purity values in laboratory using brix hydrometer spindle and polarimeter. A minimum purity value of above 85% indicates its suitability for harvest.
Ratio of top/bottom brix: As the stalk gradually ripens, the brix of the joints up to the one leaving the highest dead leaf tends to become equal. Hence when a stalk is divided into equal parts, the ratio of their average brix, the so called top/ bottom ratio (TBR) will be indicative of the degree of ripeness. In the case of unripe cane this ratio will be less than one. As the cane ripens TBR will approach unity.

  1. Can we use any ripeners to enforce the sugarcane recovery similar to grapes? Is there any work done in this connection in India / abroad?

  • Good responses have been recorded with the application of chemical ripeners such as Ethephon (or Ethrel) and Glyphosate (or Polaris) on sugarcane.
  • Ethrel spray (200ppm sprayed in two rounds i.e, at 270 days and 300 days age of the crop) had enhanced vegetative growth with a moderate improvement in sucrose% juice (0.4 to 0.7%)
  • Glyphosate (200ppm sprayed in two rounds ie. at 270 days and 300 days age of the crop) had selectively enhanced sucrose%juice by 1.0 to 1.2%; however yield reduction was noticed.
  • One can apply ethrel for moderate improvement in sucrose without yield reduction, safely (since chemical ripeners are variety and climate specific)
  • One can choose Glyphosate in early season harvests of cane

More FAQ....

  1. How to conduct a pre-harvest maturity survey in sugar factory?

  • The maturity survey should be started at least 4-6 weeks before the scheduled harvest date.
  • Separate survey for plant crop and ratoon crop should be preferable.
  • The fields should be grouped according to variety and month of planting.
  • Entire area in a factory zone should be grouped into number of zones of convenient size of about 50-60 ha.
  • For each zone or area one team of persons comprising one Cane Assistant; with two laborers for collection of samples should be assigned.
  • Each team can normally visit 20-25 fields per day and complete the work.Thus one team can complete the survey in approximate 120-150 fields within 6 days.
  • About 40 teams for each factory area can complete the entire area of a factory (5000-7000 ha) during one week time.
  • The refractometer brix values of representative samples of each field should be recorded with the help of a hand refractometer and juice extractor needles.
  • Then the fields are arranged in the descending order of brix values for each zone.
  • Cutting orders are issued based on the brix values in descending order. The above method of issuing cutting order helps to crush the cane of uniform maturity and avoids cane of immaturity, thus leading to improvement in sugar recovery to the tune 0.2 to 0.5 per cent over and above the existing sugar recovery figure.

More FAQ....

  1. How long a harvested cane can be kept without deterioration?

A well ripened harvested crop, may lose its sugar within a few days after harvest, which tends to increase further due to high ambient temperature, pre-harvest burning, harvest and. transportation injuries and microbial infestation. However, not much harm is caused if the cane is crushed within 24 hours of harvesting. Staling beyond 24 hours results in considerable loss in cane weight due to moisture loss and reduction in juice sucrose content due to inversion. Such juice also creates problems in processing. The losses increase with the increase in duration of staling.

  1. What are the varieties tolerant to post harvest deterioration?

Varieties CoC 671, Co 7314 and Co 775 were found to be comparatively resistant than CoJ 64, CoS 510, Co 7240, CoC 8001, Co 6907 and Co 62175. Studies at Coimbatore indicated that CoC 671 is comparatively less prone to post harvest inversion than Co 6304. CoC 671 stales less and is less inclined to inversion or dextran formation, even after 14-16 months.

  1. How to minimize post harvest deterioration in sugarcane?

  • Harvesting of immature and over mature canes should be avoided.
  • Quicker transport of varieties identified to be susceptible to post-harvest deterioration.
  • Keeping the harvested cane under shade during hot weather period.
  • Covering of harvested cane with trash and sprinkling of water periodically to keep the cane moist by dipping the cut ends of cane in certain biocides like polycide @2 ml/ lit or bactrinol-100 @ 100 ppm and spraying the same on the stored cane could arrest deterioration upto 120 hours.
  • Dipping both the cut ends of cane in sucro-guard improves sugar recovery upto 0.9%. This is due to 70% reduction in microbial population of the primary juice of cane.

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