, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 213-223

Ethephon : A versatile growth regulator for sugar cane industry

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Abstract

In many sugarcane growing areas of the world, sugar productivityper se is low due to physio-biochemical constraints and adverse climatic conditions during growth and ripening. The cane growth and sucrose accumulation are severely impeded due to many factors such as poor sprouting and low tillering, climatic impediments during cane maturation, poor sprouting of winter initiated ratoon, sub-optimal quality of stand-over crop and undesired flowering in commercial sugarcane plantation. Plant growth regulators have been found to mitigate the adverse affects of these constraints to some extent. Studies carried out at many places show that application of plant growth regulating chemical such as ethephon (ethrel or 2-chloroethyl phosphonic acid) leads to enhancement in seed cane sprouting under normal and late-planted conditions. The tiller number, millable canes, and biomass productivity per unit area increases following ethephon treatment. It’s efficacy has been demonstrated in improving sprouting of winter initiated ratoon of early maturing varieties, with consequent increase in ratoon tillers at a later stage. Ethephon also hastens the cane maturation process which favours early milling and suppresses flowering as well as sustains quality during late-milling. Ethephon application on sugarcane could be an important agrotechnology from cane grower’s and miller’s point of view due to its multiple benefits. It is an eco-friendly chemical and has tremendous potential to augment cane yield and sugar productivity.