In Goa, 65-70 percent of the area under sugarcane is retained as ratoon crop. Ratooning offers many advantages in the economy of cultivation since it saves the cost of procurement and preparation of setts, land preparation, planting, etc. The productivity and quality of ratoon crop in Goa are very poor since most of the ratoons are neglected or subjected to mismanagement. The productivity of ratoon can be upgraded to the level of plant crop or even better, provided sound ratoon management practices are followed by cane growers. The following steps are suggested for ratoon management:
a) Harvesting: Follow proper harvesting as suggested above.
b) Collection of trash: All the trash and dry leaves may be collected and used for mulching.
c) Shoulder breaking: This is an operation wherein the ridges formed are dismantled with the help of improved implement like ‘Ankush plough’ ornKirloskar No. 100 plough. The soil around the clump is then dug to make it lose. The furrows and interrow spaces are also dug with shovel tooth cultivator to make the soil loose. This operation results in destroying all the top dead and useless roots which decay in the soil. It also facilitates the development of new roots. The effective roots penetrate deep to draw more water and nutrients.
d) Gap filling: It is a very important operation in order to ensure adequate plant population. All the gaps noticed in the field should be promptly filled by planting young seedlings raised separately by following polybag technique or another suitable method. Similarly, all the diseased clumps should be uprooted and destroyed and fresh planting should be done.
e) Fertilizers: The requirement of nitrogen is to be kept 20 percent more than the plant crop i.e. 300kg N/ha (650 kg Urea). The fertilizer is usually given in three doses as shown below:
The fertilizers must be applied 10-12 cm away from the clumps and 12- 15 cm deep. Use of PSB (Phosphate Solubilizing Bacteria) will optimize phosphorus uptake.
f) Mulching: The initial growth of cane being slow, the inter-row spaces are exposed to heavy evapo-transpiration during summer months, resulting in a drought situation. Therefore, trash (dry leaves) should be used as a mulch @ 15 tonnes/ha to avoid water losses. Mulching also helps to smother the
weeds which eat away nutrients.
g)Weeding: Suitable weed control measures suggested for plant cane may be followed.
h) Tying of sugarcane: This operation is very essential to avoid losses from cane at maturity especially when the variety planted is susceptible to lodging or the tillering has started at a level higher
than the soil surface resulting in the poor anchorage. The individual canes may be supported by tying with neighbouring canes as well with adjacent clumps.
i) Intercropping: Various short duration crops can be grown during initial four months to get additional returns as discussed earlier.
j) Plant protection: Ratoon crop is mostly subjected to the early attack of shoot borer and diseases like grassy shoot and smut. Suitable protective measures should be adopted as described above to keep the field free from diseases and pests.
- Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute, Ela, Old Goa, Goa