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Time to invest in sugarcane

March 18, 2010

Agri Plain Talk


January 15, 2010, 4:30pm

If you have the area and the money to invest, better get into sugarcane production, especially if there is an accessible sugar mill where you can take your harvest for milling.

That’s the advice of our long-time friend, Leon Arceo, the executive director of the Philippine Sugar Research Institute (Philsurin).

Sugar is in short supply worldwide and the price has increased tremendously. For instance, one pound of sugar used to sell for 8 US cents in Europe for several years. Now the price is 28 US cents. In the US, Arceo said, the price is 33 cents per pound. Since sugarcane is a one-year crop, the shortage will not be easily solved. At least in the next two years, high prices are expected to stay.

The big shortage in the world market is due to the shortfall in production in India and Brazil. In India alone, Arceo said, the production decreased by 7 million metric tons last crop season.
Brazil had much lower output because of too much rain that rendered the canes too watery. Also ethanol production could have reduced sugar production.

Meanwhile, Arceo said that there is no sugar shortage in the Philippines. If the local prices are going up, it is because the local producers are basing their price on the prices obtaining in the world market.

Historically, he said, the domestic consumption is about 2 million metric tons. The local production in the crop year 2008-2009 was 2.19 million metric tons. On the other hand, the 2009-2010 crop is expected to be higher by less than 10 percent.

At present, the local stocks are enough to meet the local requirements as well as the US quota of 142,000 metric tons.

According to Arceo, there is a possibility that the US will increase its quota from the Philippines because its own sugar production has suffered due to frost in Florida where they are planting sugar beet for sugar production.

NEW VARIETIES. Meanwhile, Philsurin has released three new sugarcane varieties that are high-yielding and with other desirable characteristics.

These are PSR 00-34, PSR 00-343 and PSR 00-161. These were bred in 2000 and were selected from 114,000 seedlings produced from 790 crosses of 250 parent varieties. They have undergone eight years of intensive evaluation and selection process in 15 locations throughout the country. Yield data were based on 27 plant and 11 ratoon trials in at least 13 sites.

PSR 00-34 is tall, self-dethrashing and has medium to fairly big stalks. It is fast growing and has a cane yield of 118 tons per hectare. One ton of canes will produce an average of 2.11 50-kilo bags of sugar or 248.98 bags of sugar each weighing 50 kilos.

This variety is recommended for dry areas similar to San Carlos, Bukidnon, Capiz and Tarlac. It is resistant to smut and rust diseases, and moderately resistant to yellow spot.

PSR 00-343 is tall with fairly thin to medium, cylindrical, brownish purple stalks. It has the advantage of very good germination and heavy tillering, resulting in high tonnage of 120 tons cane per hectare. It has outranked all other entries in the overall ton canes per hectare in 11 out of 12 test sites and significantly higher sugar yield in 8 locations.

This variety yields 120 tons cane per hectare with each ton yielding 2.22 bags of 50 kilos, or a yield of 266.4 bags of sugar per hectare.

This is highly resistant to smut and rust, and resistant to yellow spot disease. It is recommended for most sugar mill districts, particularly, Vicrorias, Hawaiian Philippines Co., San Carlos, Bukidnon, Davao, La Carlota, Bogo and Batangas.

PSR 00-161 has fairly thin to medium, cylindrical and solid stalks that tend to recline at harvest time. It exhibits good germination, heavy tillering, fast growth, self detrashing, and sparse flowering characteristics. It has higher sugar yield over any of the check varieties in 7 out of 12 locations.

Yielding 113 tons cane per hectare, each ton yields 2.24 bags of sugar of 50 kilos each. It is very highly resistant to rust and moderately resistant to yellow spot disease. It is recommended for La Carlota, San Carlos, Bukidnon, Passi, Bogo, Davao and Batangas.

Planters associations affiliated with Philsurin can obtain planting materials of these new varieties from their respective mill district coordinators.

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