Cane growers caught off guard as crop withers in Papanasam

A view of the damaged high-yield sugarcane crop in a field at Papanasam in Thanjavur district.

A view of the damaged high-yield sugarcane crop in a field at Papanasam in Thanjavur district.

A group of sugarcane cultivators in Papanasam and surrounding areas were caught off guard when their crop started withering at the tillering and stem elongation stage.

Stumped by the unexpected development, most of them decided to switch over to traditional cultivation and started tilling their land after clearing the withered crop in about 20 acres.

Other farmers, who too have took up cultivation of high sugar content canes, were expected to follow suit since it would be the right time now for them to go in for the samba crop rather than betting on the hybrid cane variety for which they spent around ₹1 lakh per acre, said G. Srinivasan of Ganapathi Agraharam, a progressive farmer.

Claiming that the cane was cultivated and nurtured as per the well-laid norms, Selvaraj of Ganapathi Agraharam said he was at a loss to comprehend what had gone wrong. The cane, which was at the stage of stem elongation, became dry in spite of regular and sufficient watering and supplementation of substances required to maintain good soil condition.

Enquiries revealed that the hybrid cane variety was introduced in Papanasam taluk six years ago by a private sugar mill and the growth, maturation and ripening were encouraging. Thus, the farmers continued to cultivate this cane variety – CO 86032, which is claimed to be drought resistant and high-yield variety. However, in the absence of crop insurance cover for sugarcane cultivation most of the farmers whose standing cane crop withered began to turn their attention either towards traditional paddy cultivation or other cash crop cultivation, sources said.

When contacted, officials of the Agriculture Department said they were aware of the issue and had suggested remedial measures to the cane cultivators to save their crop.

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Printable version | Sep 30, 2022 2:00:10 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/cane-growers-caught-off-guard-as-crop-withers-in-papanasam/article65674278.ece