B69566: The Dandy of our Sugar Cane Varieties

November 13, 2020 6:32 pm

Our dandy variety, B69566, we call – Purple Tallboy. It took 566 attempts to hybridize this variety until it was successfully created in 1969 by the West Indian Central Sugar Cane Breeding Station (WICSCBS). Since then it has mostly been used in the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. In Martinique, B69566 is one of the designated sugarcane varieties grown under French A.O.C. certification (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) regulated Rhum agricole production. There this variety is also known as ‘blue cane’.

Renegade champions a terroir-driven approach to rum making. This particularly aromatic sugar cane, similar to Clean Ester, isn’t currently grown anywhere in the English-speaking Caribbean and so there is a great deal of interest in it being cultivated here on Grenada’s volcanic soils. All our cultivation knowledge for this variety is based on our own observations and is unique to our local conditions. We have successfully propagated Purple Tallboy at The Nursery, Old Bacolet, Dunfermline and most predominantly at River Antoine.

The thick waxy coat bestows the internodes of this cane with a red to purple or bluish colour, hence the names ‘Blue Cane’ or ‘Purple Tallboy’. This slick variety has a tall and lean appearance. At a height of ten feet or more, Purple Tallboy towers over the others as the tallest variety in the field. It may also lodge a little, but not as quickly as some of the other varieties like The Lodger. Keeping the length of this variety manageable at harvest time is the key to handling it, otherwise it can be a challenge to get Purple Tallboy off the field.

Purple Tallboy is supposedly susceptible to leaf scald but we have found it to be remarkably disease-resistant. It has shown good growth and ratooning ability. The yield can vary depending on farming conditions and Purple Tallboy seems to be doing exceptionally well on our Dunfermline farm with up to 30 shoots in a stool. Due to its somewhat lower fibre content it is the easiest to extract the juice from of all the varieties we grow.

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