B 5992: The Stickler of our Sugar Cane Varieties

October 30, 2020 1:18 pm

Let us introduce the oldest amongst our varieties, B 5992, also known in our fields as ‘Clean Ester’. This variety was introduced in 1959 (as denoted by the B59 in its code). The peak of its circulation and production was around the mid-1960s. This variety is only grown in Guadeloupe and Martinique, the French islands famous for their tradition of producing Rhum Agricole from freshly pressed sugar cane juice. Renegade Rum has adopted a similar and refined production approach.

This variety isn’t grown anywhere else in the English-speaking Caribbean. We started this variety in smaller batches – one field each on our Nursery and Dunfermline farms. Our Westerhall farm has the largest share of Clean Ester. In total this variety grows on 12.4 acres covering only about 7.4% of our farms.

Over time we’ve made our own cultivation observations and have learned about Clean Ester’s appeal. Similar to Yellow Lady, Clean Ester has a tall appearance, upright bearing and the internode colour is yellow to green. The plant will hold on to its leaves as long as possible, but discard them neatly once it’s time to shed the old leaves. This meticulous free-trashing ability has led our fieldworkers to nickname this variety as Clean Ester.

Another prolific grower, Clean Ester has shown good performance. On our Dunfermline farm Clean Ester thrives, bringing forth between 30 to 35 shoots in a single stool! This demonstrates particularly favourable growing conditions, terroir, for this variety on that farm. As Clean Ester grows very upright, it is easy to handle and an ideal candidate for machine harvesting. Testing of the sucrose content of this variety has shown a high Brix value of 19, well above the 14 Brix required to make rum.

In terms of disease resistance, Clean Ester was susceptible to sooty mold at the Nursery and our Westerhall farm. That affected only a few stools though and was overcome very quickly – very robust showing in comparison to Yellow Lady. Other than that this variety has been almost entirely disease-free. Given this overall excellent performance, we will probably increase cultivation of this variety on our expanding farms.

However, in contrast to Lacalome Red and Cain, Clean Ester is less drought resistant and experiences water stress more easily and is better suited to Hope than Antoine. Since Clean Ester is a slender sugarcane variety it doesn’t lodge as heavily as some of the other varieties such as The Lodger, Yellow Lady or Cain that have more weight in each single cane. Even if this variety lodges, rather than falling in all directions, the combined weight of all the shoots in one stool tend to bend into the same direction – staying true to Clean Ester’s neat character.

While Clean Ester is generally a very orderly variety, when it comes to handling the cane our workers have to be extra careful about wearing their long sleeves and strong gloves. All cane varieties have little prickles that can uncomfortably stick to the skin and to fabrics, but Clean Ester is especially prickly as one would expect from a stickler of that calibre.

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