Review of productivity trends in the Herbert sugarcane growing region

Garside, A.L., Di Bella, L.P., Sefton, M., and Wood, A.W. (2014) Review of productivity trends in the Herbert sugarcane growing region. In: Proceedings of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (36) pp. 1-11. From: ASSCT 2014: 36th Annual Conference of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists, 28 April - 1 May 2014, Broadbeach, QLD, Australia.

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Abstract

Concerns about decreasing productivity in recent years in the Herbert cane growing region prompted the Herbert Cane Productivity Services Limited (HCPSL) to commission a review of the production system in an attempt to identify issues that have likely influenced productivity. The review encompassed the collation and analysis of productivity data held by HCPSL, interpretation of the analyses and interviews with growers. In general the outcomes indicated that water management (seasonal conditions, drainage, waterlogging), various aspects of harvesting (groups too big, harvesting too fast, not enough adjustment for seasonal conditions/geographic harvesting, cane loss and season length (the harvest season being too long) were the main factors influencing productivity in the Herbert. The review showed that productivity was strongly linked to seasonal conditions with high rainfall in November, in particular, having an adverse effect on crop productivity the next year. This is likely due, at least in part, to radiation limitation, waterlogging, and nutrient loss under the wet conditions. However, the combination of high rainfall in November and harvesting with heavy machinery under wet conditions is also likely to be having a significant adverse effect on productivity the next season, through either direct effects on the ratoons and/or limiting the opportunity for field maintenance between cycles. Of the 23 years since 1989 harvesting has continued into November and/or December in 21 and 19 of those years for Victoria and Macknade mills, respectively. It is suggested that if the harvest season is completed by the end of October the adverse effects on productivity the following year are likely to be substantially reduced. Suggestions are made as to how this may be achieved. Contrary to popular opinion there is no clear evidence that varieties are involved in the season to season variation in yield.

Item ID: 38885
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISSN: 0726-0822
Keywords: harvesting, rainfall, seasonal conditions, varieties, water management
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Funders: Sugar Research and Development Corporation (SRDC)
Date Deposited: 20 May 2015 03:57
Downloads: Total: 4
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