Influence of harvester basecutters on ratooning of sugarcane : SRDC final report BSS123
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Current single row mechanical sugarcane harvesters use twin rotary basecutters with multiple blades to produce an impact cut in the stalk at or near ground level. However, the cane stubble is often damaged during harvesting, which is considered to be caused by the basecutter. Many instances of poor ratooning have been attributed to either basecutter damage increasing the risk of infection by stalk diseases, or due to a reduction in the number of viable buds. While this matter was discussed regularly, there were no data that quantified the level of damage occurring in the field or the relationship between stubble damage and ratooning. In addition, if stubble damage was affecting ratooning, harvesting and cultural practices contributing to stubble damage need to be identified. This was addressed in this project by conducting surveys in harvested fields in the Tully, Burdekin and Mackay districts to assess the level of damage that occurred during harvest.