95% of Cane varieties, Unworthy of cultivation in South

There is an urgent need for growing high quality varieties, in order to improve the sugar recovery in sugar mills and improve cane yields in the state of Tamil Nadu, said Smt. Anu George, IAS., Director of Sugar, Govt. of Tamil Nadu in ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore.   

Launching the Project on “Varietal Testing in Public /Co-operative sector sugar mills of Tamil Nadu” in ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute, she mentioned that while states in North and Central India have seen improved cane production and recovery, Tamil Nadu has been lagging behind in terms of low sugarcane production and sugar recovery. A preliminary assessment among the public/co-operative sector sugar mills in the state has found that over 60 different cane varieties are being grown, of which over 95 % are unworthy of cultivation. These varieties have to be phased out by introducing improved varieties in the state, besides rejuvenating the ruling variety , Co 86032. This   project will be a launching pad toward fulfilling this objective, she mentioned.

Listing out the efforts being taken up by the Directorate of Sugar, she said that improving of cane farms at factories, reviving the 3-tier seed nursery programme, identifying progressive farmers &  maintaining model cane farms at divisional level, advocating complete mechanization and establishing a Tissue Culture Lab at Kallakurichi-I sugar factory are some of the initiatives. Appreciating the role of ICAR-SBI in taking up research trials in factory areas, she requested the Institute to fulfill the requests in distribution of quality seed material and Tissue Culture seedlings from the sugar mills of the Co-operative sector.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Bakshi Ram, Director of the Institute, said that this project is aimed at identifying location specific varieties combining yield and quality suitable to farmers and cane industry. The mean sugar recovery which stands at 8-9  percent  in the state of Tamil Nadu could be enhanced to 10 percent  by replacing the old, degenerated varieties with these improved location-specific varieties.

Conscious efforts by ICAR-SBI, in the recent past, towards improving the juice quality of sugarcane clones have resulted in identification of a large number of clones with better sucrose content at different crop ages. The varietal trials in the identified factory locations will be for four years, wherein 21 such clones will be tested.

Six factories in Tamil Nadu viz., Amaravathi Coop. Sugar Mills Ltd., Udumalpet, Arignar Anna Sugar Mills, Thanjavur, National Coop. Sugar Mills, , Madurai, Salem Coop. Sugar Mills Ltd.,Namakkal, Kallakurichi – I Co-op Sugar Mills Ltd., Moongilthuraipattu and Subramania Siva Co-op Sugar Mills Ltd., Dharmapuri have been identified for conducting the trial, he added.

A publication entitled, ‘A guide to Identification of Elite Sugarcane Clones under testing in Tamil Nadu’ was released. Managing Directors/Heads of the Public/Co-operative Sugar Mills in the State and Scientists from ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute, participated in the launch function.

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