Conclusions and notes of the Technical Forum for 2013 Cultivators

During the event held by Cenicaña, topics such as new varieties for the sugar sector, factors that affect production and the reality and challenges of mechanical harvesting were addressed.

New varieties are positioned

Speaker: Jorge Victoria, Variety director

Since 2012, the area occupied by CC 85-92 shows a reduction and it is possible that at the end of 2013 it would occupy 58% of the total area compared to the 72% it had for that same date in 2011.

This reduction is very important because it means that new varieties that have emerged are being given the opportunity, due to the good results demonstrated and that have been validated and reported by the mills and growers themselves, which means that these are not experimental evaluations. .

But these good results are not only a product of the variety, but of the Site-Specific Agriculture (AEPS) approach used in the renovations, therefore, it is essential to plant the varieties in environments where they have a good performance, higher than the commercial variety most cultivated in the same environment.

A clear example is the CC 01-1940 variety, developed for humid environments and which far exceeds the CC 85-92 and CC 84-75 in the same environment. In each of the cuts, CC 01-1940 exceeded CC 2.35-85 on average by 92 TSH.

It is important to use seed from seedbeds to ensure that they are free from disease or other contamination factors. Currently, Cenicaña is carrying out a project with the mills for the production of clean seed and having it available to growers, even at the same purchase prices of cane for a commercial crop.

On August 28, the Technical Forum for Cane Growers was held at the Valle del Pacífico Events Center.

Factors that affect production

Speaker: Javier Carbonell, Director of Agronomy

The production of cane and sugar in the Cauca river valley depends largely on the seasonal climate. Furthermore, historical records show that large variations in production are associated with extreme climatic conditions that affect the region, such as “El Niño” and “La Niña” phenomena.

The occurrence of these events does not mean that each time they occur there should be a significant variation in production. This depends on the magnitude or the way in which these climatic phenomena alternate.

Long-lasting “La Niña” phenomena are those that most impact production, an effect that can be perceived up to a year after it is concluded, as a consequence of excess moisture in the soil in the entire Cauca river valley, due to trampling and the damage to the vines during the harvest in humid conditions, the difficulty to carry out the cultivation tasks and the little renovation of the fields during the time that the event lasts.

Some “El Niño” phenomena, depending on their intensity, can also have a negative effect on production, because they deplete the water reserves in the soil to such a level that it is difficult to restore them with the risks that are normally applied.

Measures to mitigate drops in production

  • Planting of varieties according to the agro-ecological zone.
  •  Adaptation of the fields: precision leveling that allows runoff in times of abundant precipitation and improve irrigation efficiency in summer.
  • Take into account weather conditions when scheduling harvesting tasks.
  • Use equipment for lifting and transporting the cane of low weight and appropriate trails that reduce damage and soil compaction.
  • Schedule the renovation of the fields according to the weather conditions and not only as a result of an economic situation.
  • Do timely cultural practices and using the Site Specific Agriculture (AEPS) approach.
  • Install and maintain drainage systems in wet areas.
  • Evaluate the economic feasibility of increasing the frequency of irrigation and reducing the drying period in extreme drought conditions.

Design and adaptation of land, keys in harvesting systems 

Speaker: Camilo Isaacs, head of the Technical Cooperation and Technology Transfer Service.

The design and adaptation of the field are decisive in the harvesting systems. The impact of the harvesting equipment on the physical properties of the soil, soil conservation, the duration of the vines and the number of cuts, the sustainability of production and the profitability of the business depends on these tasks.

For that reason, it is necessary to take into account some considerations in the suitability of the fields for harvesting systems, both manual and mechanical.

  • Precision leveling:
    • In harvest: this task makes it easier for the cutting height to be homogeneous so that the Automatic Cutting Height Control of the machines works. It also allows a decrease in the percentage of foreign matter represented in vine and soil and there is less damage during winter operation because the areas with waterlogging are reduced.
    • In the field: precision leveling allows efficient water management, because the volume of water applied is optimized and the construction of deep irrigation ditches that impede the passage of machinery is avoided. This work also improves surface drainage. 
  • Grooved with precision: 
    • Uniform distance and parallelism between rows: this work facilitates precision harvesting and machinery work, makes the operation of mechanized work and fertilization more precise, avoids trampling the rows and minimizes damage to the vines and, therefore, reseeding decreases.
    • Collinear furrows: they facilitate the harvesting of several planks and avoid trampling in the headlands, generating less damage and replanting and the production of the lots is maintained. 

For this task we recommend inverted trapezoidal geometry with hilling at 15 cm and number the lots, not the planks.

  • Tertiary alleys: for areas of high rainfall (greater than 1300 mm / year), tertiary alleys of 5 to 6 m and ditches in the shape of a pan are recommended to facilitate the exit of the machines and avoid damage to the headwaters of the lots when the teams leave loaded with cane. For the primary alleys the recommended road is 9 to 10 m. and for the secondary ones, from 7 to 8 m.
  • Cane yards: these spaces to transfer cane from self-turning wagons to transportation wagons must be located at a distance between 650 and 800 m. from the cutting front and have an area of ​​approximately 2,500 m².

 Cenicaña studies determined that direct damage to the vines due to trampling with equipment and machinery decreases production by up to 42% in trampled sites.

Mechanical harvesting with self-turning wagons that facilitate transport and allow soil conservation.


In the Technical Forum of Cultivators, a presentation was also made on the health situation of sugarcane in Valle del Cauca, activities and advances of the Mesa del Agua, and the technical assistance program, PAT, was presented.

To consult

On the Cenicaña website the reports of all the presentations made at the Technical Forum for Sugarcane Growers 2013 are available.

Information letter
Year 1 / Number 3 / December 2013

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