Literature review of methods of improving the germination of sugarcane : SRDC final report BSS208
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Sugarcane is propagated from vegetative cuttings of the stalk (setts or billets). The cuttings can be planted by hand or through mechanical whole-stalk or billet planters. Billet planters have given variable results because of damage to the billets and uneven delivery of the billets into the furrows. Germination of the buds on the sugarcane cuttings is affected by temperature, moisture in the sett and the soil, plant hormones and the availability and rate of release of reducing sugars (eg glucose) within setts. Pineapple disease caused by the fungus, Ceratocystis paradoxa, rots setts of cane and can cause total germination failures. Wireworms (Agrypnus variabilis and Heteroderes spp) attack the buds and can cause poor germination.The speed of germination and the percentage of buds that germinate can be improved by soaking setts in water, short hot water treatment, pre-treatment of planting material with nutrients including nitrogen and application of mercurial fungicides. Except for the fungicide, these treatments have practical problems for application in commercial planting. Coating setts with materials to protect them from fungal and insect attack and to provide ideal conditions for germination is an attractive concept but no practical methods for achieving this concept have been reported.