Group Title: Mimeo report - University of Florida Everglades Experiment Station ; EES66- 11
Title: Water control for sugarcane production on organic soils
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 Material Information
Title: Water control for sugarcane production on organic soils
Series Title: Everglades Station Mimeo Report
Physical Description: 3 p. : ; 29 cm.
Language: English
Creator: LeCroy, W. C
Thomas, F. H
Everglades Experiment Station
Publisher: Everglades Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Belle Glade Fla
Publication Date: 1966
Subject: Sugarcane -- Irrigation -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Humus -- Florida -- Everglades   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: W. C. LeCroy and F. H. Thomas.
General Note: "May, 1966."
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00067482
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 64130400

Full Text

Everglades Station Mimeo Report EES66-11 Uay, 1966



W. C. LeCroy and F. H. Thomas-

Sugarcane requires an adequate supply of available water during its growing
cycle and an adequate air supply around the root system. Therefore, the control
of water is of the utmost importance in the growing of this crop under the ecolo-
gical conditions in Florida. The control of water is critical on the sandy soils
as well as the organic soils, especially during the periods of germination of
seed cane and starting of regrowth after mature cane has been harvested.

This report is a summary from the progress reports of seven years' (1936-
1942) data from a set of water table plots located at the Everglades Experiment
Station and which were not replicated. Hence, no recommendations or conclusions
are intended. This merely reports the data collected realizing its limited value.
Also, the four sugarcane varieties used in this study are no longer grown commer-
cially. However, these data should be of interest to persons engaged in sugarcane
production or contemplating research on water control in sugarcane.

A series of eight plots was used. The water levels in the plots were con-
trolled by a series of ditches, dams, and pumps. Two of the plots were equipped
with overhead sprinkler systems to permit one inch of water to be added each week
during the dry periods of the growing cycle. A third plot was designed to bring
the water level to within six inches of the soil surface, through sub-surface
irrigation, each week when sprinkler irrigation was applied. Then the water level
was allowed to drop to approximately 34 inches by gravity flow.

Fertilization of the plots was uniform. In January 1936 each plot was plant-
ed with sugarcane varieties Co. 28., Co. 290, F. 31-962, and F. 31-253.

The average depths to water table are recorded in Tables 1, 2 and 3. These
are averages and considerable variation in depth to water table did occur within
each year. This was partially caused by seepage through the underlying rock into
or out of the plots.

The plant crop and six successive ratoon crops were harvested from the plots.
Data collected during this period were pounds of millable cane, percent brix, and
percent sucrose in the juice for each variety in each plot. These data were used
to compute the amounts of millable cane and sugar produced on a per acre basis.

Table 1 shows the average tons of millable cane per acre per year for each
of the four varieties grown in the eight water control treatments. In general,
the tonnages declined as the water table was lowered until a 31.2-inch depth was
reached. Then tonnages increased above those obtained on the 14.4-inch depth to
water table. Why this sudden rise occurred is not known. However, this may be
caused by variability in soil or other environmental factors and not due.entirely,
if at all, to water control. Also note the variability between varieties Co. 281
and F. 31-253.

1/ Formerly Assistant Agronomist and Assistant Chemist, Everglades Experiment
Station, Belle Glade, Florida.

Table 2 contains the average yield per acre. This follows the same pattern
as millable tonnage. Here again no definite reason can be given for these appar-
ently irratic results.

Table 3 contains the average pounds of.sucrose per ton of cane. The maximum
difference was between variety Fi 31-962 grown at 33.6 inches with overhead ir-
rigation and variety Co. 281 grown at a 14.4-inch water table. This difference
was 66 pounds sucrose per ton of cane.

The higher yield from the 14.4-inch depth does not.seem to have any logical
explanation. A more logical response would seem to be an increase in yield as
the depth to water table increases. There would be a point at which the depth
to water table would become too great for the plant to secure enough water for
growth and the tonnage would decline as the depth to water table increased below
this point. The response in the above test did not conform in this way.

The organic soils of the Everglades release stored nitrogen to plants through
the action of microorganisms. A higher sucrose content could partly be explained
for the cane growing at the 14.4-inch depth as the plant would have had a restrict-
ed area in which to secure nutrients and it is known that a lower nitrogen content
as the plant approaches maturity usually will produce a higher sucrose content.
It also follows that, if the above were true, the amount of millable cane pro-
duced under such conditions might be less. This again is not true in this study.

Another possibility which might help to explain partially the above response
is the amount of carbon dioxide present in the organic soils of the Everglades.
Decaying organic material produces carbon dioxide. It has been shown that organic
soils oxidize at a more rapid rate as the water table is lowered. All roots are
killed by high carbon dioxide concentrations, but many appear to tolerate 9 to 10
percent for short periods. Carbon dioxide measurements made on these plots show-
ed carbon dioxide content to be approximately 10 percent 21.5 inches belcu the
surface on the 24-inch water table.

Again, this report is intended to call attention to the problems encountered
when attempting water control studies under field conditions. The need for repli-
cated trials is evident.

EES 66-11
400 copies

Table 1. Average tons of millable cane per acre per year for a seven-year period
of four sugarcane varieties at the indicated depths to water table.

Depth to water table in inches
a/ a/ b/
Variety 14.4 20.4 26.4 31.2 34.8 24.0- 33.6- 33.6-/

Co. 281 51.6 49.2 44.1 51.9 47.4 47.6 47.3 44.0
Co. 290 53.6 51.1 48.5 57.2 54.6 48.9 54.2 54.6
F. 31-962 42.0 33.6 30.8 33.4 30.6 36.1 33.0 31.1
F. 31-253 39.1 36.6 32.6 47.4 54.3 32.4 51.0 50.7

Average 46.6 42.6 39.0 47.5 46.7 41.2 46.4 45.1

a/ Overhead sprinkler irrigation.
b/ Fluctuating water table.

Table 2. Average yield of sucrose in tons per acre for a seven-year period of
four sugarcane varieties at the indicated depths to water table.

Depth to water table in inches

Variety 14.4 20.4 26.4 31.2 34.8 24.0-/ 33.6a/ 33.6b/

Co. 281 4.90 4.89 4.36 5.12 4.49 4.77 5.11 4.50
Co. 290 5.32 4.85 4.66 6.02 5.43 4.99 5.70 5.74
F. 31-962 5.19 3.94 3.77 4.08 3.87 4.42 4.23 3.97
F. 31-253 4.00 3.79 3.17 5.27 5.94 3.35 5.51 5.63

Average 4.85 4.34 3.99 5.12 4.93 4.38 5.14 4.96

a/ Overhead sprinkler irrigation.
b/ Fluctuating water table.

Table 3. Pounds of sucrose per ton of cane at the indicated depths to water table
for four sugarcane varieties. Average of seven years.

Depth to water table in inches
a a/ b/
Variety 14.4 20.4 26.4 31.2 34.8 24.0- 33.6- 33.6-

Co. 281 190 199 198 197 190 200 216 205
Co. 290 199 190 192 211 199 204 210 210
F. 31-962 247 235 245 244 253 245 256 255
F. 31-253 205 207 195 222 219 207 216 219

Average 210 208 208 218 215 214 224 222

Overhead sprinkler irrigation.
Sub-surface irrigation.

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