Everglades Station Mineo Report 63-6
OPTIMUM HARVESTING TIME OF SUGARCANE GROWING ON ORGANIC
AND SANDY SOILS OF SOUTH FLORIDA
SF. le Grand*
Recently sugarcane growers have inquired about the optimum time for har-
vesting their fields., The purpose of this mimeograph is to discuss the timing
of harvest as it may relate to location of the cane field, varieties and soil
Sugarcane is presently grown in South Florida on the organic soils around
Lake Okeechobee up to 16.miles from the Lake and to some extent on the sandy
soils west of Moore Haven.
Climatically the organic soils around Lake Okeechobee could be divided into
1. The warm zone extends two miles from Lake Okeechobee. Sugarcane
growing in this area is considered not to be killed or seriously
damaged by frost every year. Cold damage, if any, is mostly
experienced during January and-February.
2. The intermediate zone is located between two and six miles from the
lake. Sugarcane growing in this belt may-be damaged more frequently
by low temperatures each season and over a period of seasons. Tempera-
tures may be somewhat lower when compared with the warm zone, but low
temperatures will not always result in killing the cane crop. Cold
damage may be experienced somewhat earlier in the season when compared
with the warm zone.
3. The cold zone includes locations more than six miles from:Lake
Okeechobee. In this region frequent'low temperatures may prevail,
each season and succession of seasons and frequently result in heavy
damage to the cane crop. The sugarcane could be damaged as early as
the end of November or beginning of December.
Temperature recordings have indicated that the growing point of sugarcane
can be killed at 290F or below. Sugarcane can still be harvested without
serious loss of sugar within four to six weeks after the growing point is
killed by frost.
Sugarcane growing in the warm zone could be harvested during November to
April without fear for serious loss to the growing crop and subsequent ratooning.
Cane growing in the intermediate and cold zones should normally be harvested
before the end of February.
Fields harvested during November and December will sprout vigorously dur-
ing the mild weather following. The subsequent ratoon crop may be several feet
high at the time subsequent freezes occur. Through experience it has been
Assistant Sugarcane Agronomist, Everglades Experiment Station, Belle Glade,
learned that small cane will survive better from cold damage than young cane
that is several feet high. Subsequently, the ratoon fields of cane cut in
November and December in the cold and intermediate zones will be damaged ser-
iously by low temperatures, often to such an extent that the following ratoon
crop is lost completely. Because frequent replanting will be uneconomical, the
optimum harvesting time for fields located in the intermediate and cold zones
seems to be January and February. The crop harvested in these zones during
this period will not be so severely damaged by frost and the stools of the
subsequent ratoon will stay sufficiently dormant in the soil to survive serious
damage by frequent low temperatures. To obtain optimum sugar content in cane
for harvesting during January and February the areas should be planted with a
late maturing variety such as CL. 41223.
Cane growing in the warm zone may be harvested during November and December
or March and April. Cane harvested during the first period will germinate after
harvest but the milder and less frequently occurring cold spells will normally
not harm the subsequent ratoon. Early maturing varieties such as F. 46-136,
F. 46-197 and C.P. 50-28 should be planted to obtain a satisfactory yield dur-
ing the early part of the season.
Sugarcane harvested during Mlarch and April will normally not be harmed by
cold in this zone. Late maturing varieties such as CL. 41223 or varieties able
to maintain their optimum sucrose contents during a long period such as C.P.
50-28 should be planted for harvesting during March and April. Late harvested
fields in the warm zone will ratoon satisfactorily.
Sugarcane growing on sand is known to mature earlier than that grown on
organic soil. Also, damage to cane by frost,is less severe on sand as compared
to damage on organic .soil. Sugarcane, groin on san oud be harvested during
.the early part as well as' during the latter part of the crop. In both cases a
variety' should be planted suited for sandy soil. ;C.P. 50-28 has proven its'
vaiue as: such a variety and cane of F. 46-136 is known to have obtained a high
sucrose content during November and December when grown ono sand.: Insufficient
data are available as to the cane tonnage and totalzyield, of F.46-136 ,hen'
grown on sandy soils under optimum conditions.
EES Mimeo 63-6