January 23, 2024 3:42 pm Published by KirstyH
growing sugarcane

SUGARCANE IS AN inherently slow starter but goes on to overtake and overwhelm the ground where planted. The slow start can pose problems, especially in relation to competition from weeds, but the upside is setts in the furrows is the ideal time to prime sugarcane with a combination of essential nutrients and naturally-sourced biostimulants.

Sugarcane’s tardy take off is down to a complex three-stage sequential system of rooting – the initial roots put out by setts, the much longer and straighter stem roots and finally the buttress roots going deeper into the soil and essential for good anchorage.

OMEX programme for sugarcane

OMEX caters for sugarcane’s specific requirements with a range of dedicated products.

OMEX Bio 20, is a well-balanced formulation of macro-nutrients and micronutrients, synergised with inclusion of a naturally-sourced biostimulant, as the first application in the sugarcane crop cycle and to setts planted in the furrows.

The benefits of OMEX Bio 20 far exceed those of standard soluble nutrient formulations.  This natural biostimulant sourced from a specific marine alga (seaweed) primes the sugarcane sett. It stimulates root growth and development to promote more root biomass. Collateral benefits include greater plant access to and absorption of soil water and nutrients. Net result is faster and stronger early root growth for prompter plant establishment.

This unrivalled window of application opportunity gives growers the chance to apply a range of micronutrients. Sugarcane is essentially a gigantic grass, ultimately woody in nature and by far the bulkiest of all mainstream field crops. Despite these inherent characteristics, sugarcane is surprisingly sensitive to shortfalls of particular micronutrients or trace elements which, as the name suggests, are only required in tiny quantities, though essential nevertheless. The micronutrients are zinc,  manganese, boron, molybdenum and to some extent, copper.

For deficiencies in zinc, OMEX Kingfol Zinc contains zinc at a concentration of 70% w/v. Another product from our extensive Kingfol range  is Kingfol Manganese, at 52.8% w/v manganese, is the solution for the widespread sensitivity of sugarcane to shortfalls in this micronutrient.   However, the options do not end there and especially for sugarcane farmers faced with an inherent soil deficiency in copper.  Some growers will find it more productive and convenient to use our Kingfol combination product called Kingfol Copper/Zinc /Manganese. This versatile combination product contains copper, zinc and manganese at respectively, 8.0% w/v, 33.0% w/v and 11.0% w/v.

Boron and molybdenum, the next pair of micronutrients to be applied at this early stage in the crop cycle is among the least well known and understood of essential plant micronutrients. However, this does not lessen their importance for proper crop growth and development. Molybdenum has a vital role in nitrogen fixation and boron an equally essential role in the translocation of sugars. This is clearly important for sugarcane, because the concentration of sucrose in the canes ultimately determines the success or failure of sugarcane cropping.

Adequate supplies of boron and molybdenum are provided by OMEX Performa (Boron – 5.68% w/v; Zinc – 19.20% w/v and Molybdenum – 1.52% w/v) and much more quickly and efficiently due to the inclusion of an extract from seaweed with biostmulant properties.  OMEX Performa was originally designed for sugarcane cultivation in South America where it has been used very successfully, especially in Brazil.

Prime time for application of nutrients and biostimulants

Setts in the furrow is the prime time to stimulate the growth and development of sugar cane.

Treatment of setts in the furrow with soluble nutrients is the prime time to stimulate growth and development of sugarcane. New shoots emerge more quickly and are  significantly stronger. Photosynthesis starts more promptly to provide growth and plant establishment that much sooner in the crop cycle. Shoots emerging from treated sugarcane setts look more robust for up to 90 days after planting.

However, the proof comes at harvest time when sugarcane treated with a portfolio of OMEX products is shown to give higher yields and crop quality due to bigger and heavier canes and, more crucially, higher sugar content. Early treatment of setts in the furrow with OMEX soluble nutrient and biostimulant products is now standard practice in key sugarcane growing countries around the world including India, Thailand and Indonesia.

Applying nutrients and biostimulants at the very start of the sugarcane crop cycle is by far the easiest option for sugarcane farmers and growers. Spraying setts in the furrow avoids all the logistical constraints of driving vehicles through or walking through well grown sugar cane with all the associated problems of achieving adequate spray coverage. However, the single biggest advantage of treating sugarcane setts in the furrow is providing these fledgling sugarcane plants with the right nutrient requirements at the right time, which is at the rooting and establishment stage of the crop.

Article written by Dr Terry Mabbett

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