In our first cane article we introduced Lacalome Red, the champ of our varieties. Today we’re taking a look at Lacalome Red’s sister variety – B89447 – also known locally as ‘Yellow Lady’. As the name implies this sugarcane variety exhibits a certain elegance. It is self-trashing, which means that the leaves peel off by themselves, exposing a lean stem with greenish to yellow complexion hence the name. This variety grows tall and puts out a thick, lush canopy.
It’s not a very common variety in the Caribbean and was only introduced to Barbados as recently as 2005. Nevertheless, we have taken a liking to this fairly new variety and have planted it most notably on our farms in Pearls, New Bacolet, Westerhall and Hope and to a lesser degree on The Nursery and Dunfermline. In total about 20% of our farms are covered by Yellow Lady.
Once planted, and provided that there is sufficient rainfall, this sugarcane variety takes off quickly and is a prolific grower, often developing anywhere from 14 to 20 shoots per stool. The stems tend to be lean and erect, which makes it highly suitable for machine harvesting.
Since Yellow Lady matures early we can start harvesting from as soon as 7 months up to 13 months from planting. On top of that this variety ratoons well and delivers abundant crop yield year after year. Due to its high sucrose content, Yellow Lady is not only an elegant but also a sweet lady. Harvesting during the dry season results in especially high sugar yield, as less rainfall means less water dilution and higher sucrose concentration in the cells.
One of the few downsides is she starts to lodge, once the plant becomes too prolific and reaches high yield, losing her erect demeanor and ease of harvestability. Also we’re not the only ones who have taken a shine to her. Moth borers and especially aphids have singled her out too… the little insects love to attack the leaves of our plants and suck the juicy sap, leaving behind a sticky waste product called ‘honeydew’, which in turn provides the perfect breeding ground for sooty mold.
Now and again we’ve had the unpleasant surprise, particularly on our New Bacolet Farm, of seeing the ordinarily spotless stems and leaves of our Yellow Lady coated in a dusty looking black. However, that’s nothing a little bit of tender loving care can’t cure and apart from untoward, little aphids Yellow Lady luckily hasn’t got too many other enemies in the field.