Although most sugarcane growers in Florida plant a diverse selection of newer varieties, a lack of maturity curves makes it difficult to make informed harvest scheduling decisions.This fact sheet summarizes sucrose accumulation characteristics among some of the commercial CP varieties in Florida and provides harvest scheduling recommendations.
Given present milling capacity in south Florida, a full five months (October to March) are required to process the 410,000 acres planted to sugarcane.
Sugarcane is grown in four counties (Glades, Hendry, Martin, and Palm Beach) in Florida, with the majority of the production area extending in a 30-mile wide arc directly south and east of Lake Okeechobee (Figure 1).
Some sugarcane must be harvested before achieving maximum sucrose levels to sustain early-season (October–November) milling operations.
“Early maturing” varieties are preferentially harvested during this time, recognizing that they may not have reached their peak sucrose content, but may have higher sucrose content than other later-maturing varieties (Miller and James 1977).
Harvest data were collected from October to March during 4 consecutive seasons (1998/1999 to 2001/2002).
Harvest samples were collected at approximately 2-week intervals, commencing on October 14 of each season and ending by March 27 the following year.
For this discussion, harvest dates within any given season represent the number of days after October 14.
Researchers in South Africa (Bond 1982), Louisiana (Legendre 1985; Legendre and Fanguy 1975; Richard et al.
1981), and Mauritius (Mamet and Galwey, 1999) have used information on sucrose content at the time of harvest to develop “maturity curves” for individual varieties.