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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPING INTEGRATED WEED AND INSECT PEST MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR EFFICIENT AND SUSTAINABLE SUGARCANE PRODUCTION

Location: Sugarcane Research Unit

Title: Herbicides as ripeners for sugarcane

Authors
item Dalley, Caleb
item Richard Jr, Edward

Submitted to: Weed Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 4, 2009
Publication Date: June 20, 2010
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/45409
Citation: Dalley, C.D., Richard Jr, E.P. 2010. Herbicides as ripeners for sugarcane. Weed Science. 58:329-333.

Interpretive Summary: The use of plant growth regulators to increase sucrose concentrations in sugarcane prior to harvest plays an important role in the profitable production of sugarcane in the U.S. as well as in other sugarcane industries around the world. The sugarcane harvest often begins before levels of sucrose reach a level needed to be economically profitable to the grower and mill. This is especially true in the Louisiana sugarcane industry where the window for harvesting is limited due to the risk of freezing temperatures encountered in a temperate climate. Plant growth regulators, mostly of herbicide origin, have been studied over the past 60 years for their ability to increase sugar concentrations in sugarcane. In the U.S., the only sugarcane ripener registered for use is glyphosate. Glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide worldwide, is applied at non-herbicidal rates four to seven weeks prior to harvest. Under favorable conditions, these ripener applications can increase sucrose concentrations in harvested cane by 10 to 20%. The herbicide fluazifop is used as the primary ripener of sugarcane in South Africa. The herbicides glyphosate, fluazifop, and sulfometuron-methyl and the growth regulators ethephon and trinexapac-ethyl are registered for use in Brazil. There is a continuing need to evaluate sugarcane ripeners in order to increase the utility of currently registered ripeners and to find additional ripeners for use by sugarcane industries. The need for alternatives to glyphosate is especially critical before a glyphosate-tolerant sugarcane can be utilized to improve control of problematic weeds.

Technical Abstract: Chemical ripening of sugarcane is an important component to profitable sugar production in the U.S. as well as other sugarcane industries throughout the world. Harvesting of sugarcane often begins before the sugarcane reaches a desirable level of maturity. This is especially true in the Louisiana sugarcane industry where the window for harvesting is limited due to the risk of freezing temperatures encountered in a temperate climate. Research on the application of chemicals, mostly of herbicide origin, to enhance sucrose accumulation (ripening) or limit flowering to conserve stored sucrose has been conducted for more than 60 years. The only sugarcane ripener registered for use in the U.S. is glyphosate, applied at 0.16 to 0.47 kg ae/ha four to seven weeks prior to harvest. The herbicide fluazifop is used as the primary ripener of sugarcane in South Africa. While the herbicides glyphosate, fluazifop, and sulfometuron-methyl and the growth regulators ethephon and trinexapac-ethyl are registered for use in Brazil. There is a continuing need to evaluate sugarcane ripeners in order to increase the utility of currently registered ripeners and to find additional ripeners for use by sugarcane industries. The need for alternatives to glyphosate is especially critical before a glyphosate-tolerant sugarcane can be utilized to improve control of problematic weeds.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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