Modeling within-season sugarcane growth for optimal harvest system selection

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The recent switch from wholestalk to combine sugarcane harvesters has raised questions concerning which harvester is more profitable. Combine harvesters recovery more of the sugarcane in the field than wholestalk harvesters, but also have higher trash levels reducing sucrose recovery. The objective of the research presented in this article is to determine the optimal sugarcane harvest system selection for sugarcane production in Louisiana. Sugarcane stalk weight and sugar per stalk equations are estimated in order to predict tonnage and sugar yields throughout the harvest season. These predicted yields are then adjusted to reflect field tonnage and sugar recovery for the combine and wholestalk harvesting systems. A mixed integer mathematical programming model is then used to determine the optimal harvest system under alternative sugarcane variety combinations, wholestalk harvester field recovery rates, and combine harvester sugar recovery rates. Results identify field recovery and sucrose recovery conditions for which one type of harvest system would be preferred over the other. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Agricultural Systems

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