College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Mr Sibusiso Lucky Zulu who graduated with an MSc in Crop Science.

Calculating Optimum Sugarcane Harvest Age

Mr Sibusiso Lucky Zulu earned his Master’s in Crop Science for calculating the best age at which to harvest sugarcane, an important management factor that determines the economic returns for cane growers.

While sugarcane production is widespread in South Africa, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, there is still uncertainty about and limited information available on the optimal harvest ages across different production regions.

Zulu, who is passionate about agriculture, was driven to make a meaningful contribution to this sector. He hopes that the results will provide guidance to sugarcane growers on the most appropriate harvest ages for different regions, thereby maximising profits.

Zulu undertook his research at the South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI), an opportunity that he said enhanced his skills in using field trials, data mining on already existing trials, and using models like Canesim.

‘One of the skills I’ve learned in this marathon is to maintain a positive attitude in any situation,’ he said.

Zulu is currently looking for entry-level opportunities in the agricultural industry where he can apply his knowledge and hopes one day to further his skills through a PhD. He completed all his degrees at UKZN, choosing the Institution because of its high rating in agricultural research.

He thanked God for the opportunity to pursue his studies, and said he was grateful to his grandmother, MaZungu, and to his friends at the Pietermaritzburg Student Christian Fellowship for their prayers. He also expressed gratitude to his supervisor, Dr Sanesh Ramburan, and to Dr Sumita Ramgareeb and Ms Thobile Nxumalo, all at SASRI, for their guidance, encouragement and support. He thanked SASRI for funding his research, and his supervisor Professor Hussein Shimelis for believing in him and offering encouragement.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied