Impact of Plant Population and Weed Control Methods on the Growth, Yield and Economic Potential of Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.) Cultivation
ABSTRACT: Sugarcane industries are faced with the challenges of reduced cane yield due to inability to ascertain an appropriate sugarcane planting density. Field trials were conducted at Bacita, southern Guinea savanna of Nigeria to examine appropriate planting density and weed control method that can minimize weed infestation in sugarcane field and give an optimum cane yield to improve the economic status of the sugarcane farming community. The experiment was established as a randomized complete block design in a split-plot arrangement with three replications. The main plot constituted four planting populations (43,200, 64,800, 86,400 and 108,800) plants ha-1 while the sub-plot consisted of six weed control practices (weedy check, pre-emergence application of terbuthylazine at 2.0 kg a.i. ha-1 + three supplementary hoe weeding (SHW), post emergence application of ametryn at 3.0 kg a.i. ha-1 + two SHW., post emergence application of dicamba at 0.5 kg a.i. ha-1 + two SHW., pre emergence application of terbuthylazine at 2.0 kg a.i. ha-1 + post emergence application of 2.4-D at 3.0 kg a.e. ha-1 and monthly hoe weeding). The study revealed that fifteen weed species were encountered as the most prevalent weed species in sugarcane ecology. Plant population of 108,800 plants ha-1 had the lowest weed seedlings population with highest cane yield (216.03 tons ha-1), production efficiency of 9.20% and benefit cost ratio of US$ 9.86 on every US$ 1 spent. This study concludes that, the adoption of 86,400-108,800 plants ha-1 of sugarcane and pre emergence application of terbuthylazine at 2.0 kg a.i. ha-1 + three SHW (for small scale growers) or pre emergence application of Terbuthylazine at 2.0 kg a.i. ha-1 + post emergence application of 2.4-D at 3.0 kg a.e. ha-1 for the commercial estates will minimize weed infestation and make sugarcane cultivation a profitable venture.