Timely Hints for Farmers

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1 Timely Hints for Farmers Item Type text; Book Authors University of Arizona. Agricultural Experiment Station.; McOmie, A. M. Publisher College of Agriculture, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ) Download date 30/04/208 2:05:5 Link to Item

2 UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURAL *^ EXPERIMENT STATION TIMELY HINTS FORFARMERS^ No. 6 May, 96 SUGAR CANE IN ARIZONA In the spring of 9, the Southwestern Sugar and Land Co., of Glendale, Ariaona, planted after alfalfa some Mexican Ribbon cane at Marinette. This corporation owns a beet sugar factory at Glendale, which in 92 and subsequently, has been equipped to manufacture sugar from cane as well as beets. The result of this planting of sugar cane at Marinette, which was but a small plot, encouraged the writer to undertake some tests on the Experiment Station Farm near Phoenix. The first plantings were made here in 93, and in 95 the work was extended to the University of Arizona date orchard at Yuma where the same tests were carried out. The work as outlined includes, first, variety tests for yield and quality; second, cultural methods, and third, returns per acre. History of plots * Only a small piece of ground was available for this work, and the soil was not as fertile or otherwise as well suited to the culture of sugar cane as was wished for; but it was the onlyavailable spot on the farm, therefore we used it The crop immediately preceding was shallu, other members of the sorghum family, and millet. Previous to this, but one year, the land was occupied by pear trees, which had been killed completely by pear blight and root rot. The soil had not been fertilized, and was in a generally rundown condition, as are a good many soils of our old orchards. In 93, seed stalk only of Mexican Ribbon and Yellow were obtainable, and of the latter but a few hills were planted, the yield of which was not recorded. Of the former, Mexican Ribbon, the stalks had been pitted during the winter and were considerably damaged by decay, which, therefore, reduced the vitality of the buds and the stand. In 94 the Mexican Purple, the Mexican White, a few hills of Louisiana Purple and Demerara No. 74 were added to the tests. In February 95, additions to the plot of Demerara No. 74 and Louisiana Purple were made. The plots occupy in all one-half acre on the Phoenix farm. In February 95, seed stalk of the Mexican I^oulsiana Puiple? and Demerara No. 74 were sent to the Dat^ Orcjiafd lor trial. The plots there occupied three-

3 TIMELY HINT 6 fourteenths of an acre. The soil on the Yuma farm is a fine riverbottom silt loam and is much better suited to sugar cane culture than the soil of the Phoenix farm. All plantings were made In February. "^7rt «?*»< «Mexican Ribbon: lyjio. 0 \. Average Mexican Purple; % Average Mexican White; 94 Mexican Yellow: 95 Demerara No 74(2) 95 Louisiana Purple (2)- 95. VARIETY TESTS TABLE i. PHOENIX FARM Yield In pounds p>er acre Gross 7,490 35,3 9A R4.0 26,420 47, ,36 27, ,000 Stalks () 8,90 6,62 ^ ^4-ft 3,690 24, ,447 7/ ,600 Leaves 8,580 8, ,730 22, ,688 0, ,400 Age of cane Plant.,.. st year 2d year st year. st year. Plant Plant... Percent stand Date planted Mar. 7 Mar 7 Mar. 6 Mar. 6 Feb. 25 Feb. 25 Date harvested Dec. 25 Dec. 30 Dec. 30 Dec 30 Nov. 9 Nov. 9 (!) The stalks consist of only the material suitable for milling, the top being cut off to a joint that shows the proper varietal coloring. In the column of pounds of leaves the tops also are included (2) In 94, planted Feb. 25, yield, etc., not recorded. TABI/B II. YXJMA tfarm Mexican Ribbon: 95 f Mexican Purple : 95.. Demerara No ,,. Yield of stacks in pounds per acre 62, ,3.90 Percent stand It will be observed in Table I that the yield of stalks of the 93 plot of Mexican Ribbon was slightly more than four tons to the acre, but in 94 it was better than eight tons. This is probably due to the greater stooling of the plants the second year. It has been noticed that the yields of the Sugar Company's Marinette cane were heaviest the first and second years, Inhere they report as mttcli as fifty tons to the acre, but the third year this yield wa$ reduced to about 5 tons. It is further observed that the percentages Of in the Ribbon variety are about e<jiih^ wl$le Jtt the

4 SUGAR CANE IN ARIZONA 3 the stalks are a little heavier, and in the Mexican White they are considerably heavier, constituting almost two-thirds of the total weight. The ground on which these varieties are growing, as stated above, has not received any fertilization, and is consequently low in available nitrates, which no doubt is responsible for the low yield. The Mexican Purple, which is said to be a degenerate strain of Mexican Ribbon, produced slightly more than twelve tons of mill cane per acre. At the Yuma Station, the stand obtained in the case of Demerara No. 74 prevents any conclusion concerning this variety in that section. Still, a yield of tons was obtained. The Mexican Ribbon, however, is by far the leading variety in the Yuma district, producing slightly over 3 tons per acre, while the Louisiana Purple made a yield of 23.5 tons per acre. In Salt River Valley, the Demerara No. 74 has never given much promise. The Sugar Company reported it as the lowest yielding variety and the poorest in quality of any tried, and this is borne out by the yields obtained both at Phoenix and at Yuma. So far the tests indicate preference of the colored varieties for this State. Of these, the Mexican Ribbon is hardiest, but apparently not as high quality, and little superior,if any,in yield to the Mexican Purple^ although these are the two most promising varieties for this section. III. OCCURRENCE O# FROST Station length of record (yrs.) Elevation (feet) Avei age, autumn Average, spring First in autumn latest in spring Mesa Tempe. Phoenix Bxp. Station, Phoenix... Peoria.... Buckeye,... Yuma, "iiso Dec. Nov. 24 Dec. G Nov. 27 Dec. 4 Nov. 23 Nov. 24 Feb. 27 Feb. 26 Feb. 6 Mar. 8 Feb. 24 Mar. 6 Feb. 0 Oct. 2 Oct. 23 Nov. 9 Oct 22 Nov 9 Oct. 22 Oct, 2 Apr. 2 Mar o Mar,3 Apr 9 Mar 29 Apr, 6* Apr. 3 Table III shows the average autumn and spring frosts as well as the" first autumn and last spring frosts, which determine the growing season for the area under discussion. It appears that Salt River Valley is free from frosts for about 8.5 months, while this season may be lengthened two or three weeks in the Yuma district. There seems to be no difference in the ability of the different varieties to withstand low temperatures although the colored varieties are more nearly matured when growth is checked by the frost. Some of the buds are worthless for seed planting in a temperature of 30 F,, while those somewhat sheltered and more vigorous remain alive at a temperature of 25. The production of vigorous seed cane is very important and may best be accomplished by careful selection from the field, and planting in October* It is not safe to postpone the seed selection until November, due to light frosts occurring in that month* A $iecond, climatic factor which is adverse to the best develop* of siigar can is the copl nigbts prevailing over the area,.

5 TIMELY HINT 6 which together with the low humidity and the great variation between might and day in temperatures, seriously retards growth, especially during the spring and early summer months. The colored varieties, particularly the Mexican Purple and Ribbon, seem best able to adjust themselves to these conditions of climate. Cultural methods that tend to warm the soil, such as early cultivation, should be practiced during spring and fore-summer. The white varieties are not recommended. TABI/E IV. Mex. Ribbon.. 2vlex!Ribfoon IVTcx R.ib"bon Mex. Ribbon.. IvCex [Ribbon IVIex ^Ribbon Mex. Ribbon. Mex. Ribbon.. Average... Mex White Mex White Mex. Purple... ANALYSES OF SUGAR. CANE GROWN AT MARINBTTB AND GLBNDALK, SALT RIVER VALLEY, ARIZONA Date sampled Dec. 9 Nov 92 Nov 9^ Nov 92 Dec. 92 Dec 93 Nov 94 Nov. 94 Nov. 9.4 Nov 94 Dec 94 Dec. 94 Brix Sucrose Glucose Purity Age of cane Plant cane. Plant cane Plsnt cane -year growth -year growth. -year growth Plant cane Plant cane. -year stock. This cane is the parent stalk of the trials described and was grown on the same type of soil as the experimental plots. ANALYSES OF SUGAR CAN, #XP$RIM$Nt STATION FARM, N$AR PHOENIX (Harvested November XQ, 95) Sample, Demerara No. 74 Sample 2, Rose Bamboo Sample 3, Mexican Purple..'... Sample 4, Mexican Ribbon.... Wo? J3 ** ~*J m" ' &+* a ** ««! 5a * a S ll ^a to E ^% fk 74, , o < Plant. t TTA4J r y year. 2 years.

6 SUGAR CANE IN ARIZONA TABLE vi. ANALYSES OF SUGAR CANE, YUMA DATE ORCHARD (Harvested November 8, 95) Sample 3, Demerara No. 74 Sample 4, Louisiana Purple.... Sample 3, Mexican Ribbon S cu <U J3 ~C jts O "Q St $ 0 4 «- is <u d i Millabl ou a S's' rt*o sj. ; ilength i cane a PQ SJ CO Non-suE I Plant Plant. Plant. TABI/E VII. ANALYSES OF SUGAR CANE, YUMA DATE ORCHARD Demerara No, 74: Pirst-third joint Fourth-seventh joint.... Mexican Ribbon: First- third joint Fourth-seventh joint.... Louisiana Purple: First-third joint Fourth-seventh joint...d *j b/3" r a «-! 3 o ^ ^ Weiglit In ounces per foot Acidity Length matured cane (inches) X Sucrose Non-sugar , Table V represents the chemical analyses and gives characteristic data on the different varieties, from which a fair idea of the quality of the cane may be formed. The determinations were made by the chemist of the Southwestern Land and Sugar Company, Glendale. Quality: The quality of different varieties seems to be greatly influenced by the degree of maturity and the portion of the stalk used in analyses. The more nearly matured the cane, and the more remote from the tip, the higher the sugar content. A great number of analyses of each joint separately indicate that only the first eight or ten joints are profitable for milling; nine analyses of Mexican Ribbon made during four years from November and December harvests, give an average brix of 5.5 percent; of sucrose, 2.9 percent, and a purity of percent, which compares favorably with the Louisiana product The purity is greatly influenced by the state of maturity of the cane, increasing with it at nearly a uniform rate. There is also a slight variation in the sugar content from year to year, that for 93 and 94 being lower than for 92, which is probably due to the early frosts of the two former years. It also appears that the cane from Salt River Valley is of better quality than th^t from the Yuma farm. The Yuma cane, however,

7 6 TIMELY HINT 6 was less mature, as is clearly shown by the analyses of the cane from the same plots taken three weeks later. The purity of the first Yuma samples is especially low, and the non-sugar constituents are very high, but these factors are improved materially by the additional time of growth. Of the three varieties, the Mexican Ribbon is not only the highest yielder, but is also of far the best quality. The purity of the Mexican Ribbon on the Experiment Station farm is high. The brix and sucrose are also satisfactory, and the non-sugar constituents the lowest. It is also apparent that the cane from the first year stubble is superior to that of the "plant cane," and may prove as high in sugar as the second year stubble. In order to keep up the quality it is necessary to allow the cane to stand in the field as long as possible before injured by frost. The same practice will apply with equal force in securing the highest yields. The quality of the colored varieties is satisfactory for profitable milling, and from this standpoint, like that of the yield, the sugar cane industry, with intelligent management, may be successfully followed in the valleys of southwestern Arizona. CULTURE) Sugar cane grows best in this district during the hottest part of the summer, and makes very little growth during the spring. As noted above, the cool nights of the region seem to interfere with its highest development, especially in the spring and early summer. Ottr records show that the cane was frosted November 2, 95, December 7, 94, and December 5, 93 It is apparent, therefore, that the harvesting should begin in November. Although a temperature of 30 F. injures some of the buds for planting, it does not affect the quality of the cane for milling. Soils: The soil best adapted to cane growing is loam rich in humus and nitrogen. Few, if any, soils in Arizona are sufficiently supplied with nitrogen for the heavy production of sugar cane. The soils and the abundant irrigating water supply available along the Colorado River in the Yuma section are favorable for this crop* By proper fertilization and the use of cover crops, the soils of Salt River and similar valleys of southwestern Arizona can be made to produce well. It is advisable, therefore, in selecting land for sugar cane, to choose old alfalfa ground. If this is not possible, and it is desired to fertilize the cane after it is planted, excellent results will be obtained by drilling in the spring or summer seasons, whippoorwill cowpeas alongside of the cane row, and when the peas are nearly matured, incorporate them into the soil by disking or cultivating. If it is more convenient to fertilize by a leguminous cover crop in the winter season than it is in the spring or summer, then Winter or Spring vetch may be sown in December after the cane crop is off, and turned under during April. Barnyard manure can be applied on the stubble cane and worked in with the plow or cultivator. In any event, soil devoted to cane must be thus tx&at~ ed every other year in order to produce a profitable yield. It is ajso important to select the warmest soils and e&poswes for the best

8 SUGAR CANE; IN ARIZON \ 7 Results. Locations having free air drainage are less susceptible to frost and should be selected. Time and method of planting: The usual time of planting is February and March, but it is much better to plant in October than in the spring. If planted in October the winter cold spells will not seriously injure the crop, although the top parts of the plants may be frozen. Meantime the root systems are expanding and the plants are therefore more vigorous when the spring warmth approaches. This phase of the culture should be fully worked out as it is very important to increase, if possible, the length of the growing season. This, of course, only applies to plant cane and not to stubble cane. The best method of planting is in rows five feet apart with the plants as thick in the row as they would naturally come from the buds of the stalk. Furrows are opened with a plow, five feet apart, and the seed cane placed in the bottom of the furrow. Ordinarily the stalks are cut into small lengths bearing at least two buds. Sometimes whole stalks arc used, being placed butt to tip, slightly overlapping, m a continuous line. By either method the seed stalk is covered at first three or four inches, but later the furrows are leveled and finally ridged along the row line. Irrigation: As soon as the seed cane is planted and covered, water should be run down the furrows at each side of and near the row. As the season advances and the crop develops and shades the ground, flooding may be used profitably instead of furrow irrigation. The stalk cane should be irrigated in the spring as soon as the sprouts show nicely in the row, although this must be regulated by the conition of the soil. Cane requires considerable irrigation water, especially in the hot growing months of July and August. The Maricopa sandy loam of the Phoenix farm requires 2.5 acre-feet of water annually to keep the cane in a good thrifty condition. Cultivation: Cultivations of the cane should be given frequently while the plants are small, and continued until the stalks begin to fall to the middles. The land should be kept perfectly free from weeds at all seasons of the year. When a cover crop is sown, the smaller weeds are held back, and fewer cultivations are necessary. The high cost of labor is a serious factor, and every possible means of reducing the amount employed should be utilized. In the fall, when the crop is cut, a light plow furrow may be thrown to the stubble to protect the buds from the cold. Harvesting: In harvesting, the leaves and the tops may be utilized for silage, or fed green to livestock. The tops are generally used for seed, but here their value is in question. The amount that is cut for top is determined by the sugar content, the division in the Mexican Ribbon variety being made at about the tenth joint. The stripped product may be tied in bundles and shipped or hauled to the factory. The operation of stripping is very costly, especially with the half matured stalks. To reduce this, burning may be substituted. It should be done while the cane is standing, and only about three days in advance of when the cane is to be milled. As a silage crop, sugar cane is not excelled in quality, and produces readily 25 to 30 tons per acre.

9 S TIMELY HINT 6 Insect pests and diseases: No disease of any importance has effected the sugar cane as yet. The chief insect causing injury is the Mexican cane borer, which was evidently imported with the original seed stalk from Mexico. It is not increasing rapidly, but should be guarded against in making plantings. Since the borer is in the larva stage and lives in the cane stalks during the winter, it is readily discernible, hence a careful inspection of the seed cane at planting, and the elimination of any infested stalk will control this trouble to a considerable extent. Another means also which should be used is to gather carefully and burn or otherwise destroy all of the waste and left-over material from the cane field. COST OF GROWING One of the first questions to be considered in the production of a crop is its profitableness. In the case of sugar cane, the land which is suitable for its growth represents some of the best, and hence the highest priced, lands of the valley. The returns per acre must therefore be commensurate with high land valuation. One advantage in a crop of this character is the sureness of the market. If sold on the basis of its sugar content, it should bring from $2.50 to $4.50 per ton, and the Sugar Company would contract with the farmer to take Ms entire product on a sugar basis. With many other crops this is not the case, and although a very high yield may be obtained, and a fine quality produced, the marketing facilities often lead to a financial failure. Costs of growing sugar cane as computed from the operation of the Station plots are indicated in Table VIII. TABLE vni. COST OF GROWING SUGAR CANE PEJR TON ON A BASIS OF 2 TONS PER ACRE Interest on $50 acre laud, at 6% $i) 75 Seed bed preparation, 2 Seed stalk, at $3 per ton per year 29 Planting, Cultivations 37 Water,..0 Irrigation-labor, 0 Harvesting (cutting, topping, stripping, and loading).70 Hauling 2-mile haul, 40 Total $2 84 The cost is figured on a per ton basis with a yield of 2 tons per acre. The cost could be materially reduced with increase in yield and acreage. On larger tracts it is safe to say that the cost would be between $.75 and $2 per ton, at which figure there is a good profit to the farmer in the business. The Sugar Company, on a tract of 3000 acres, reduced the cost to about $.30 per ton. This is less than the fanner can expect to pay, as he is compelled to use more hand labor and smaller machinery. A, M. McOMiE.

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