Proper selection of sugarcane varieties to be used is important in attaining higher production and profitability in sugarcane farming. The use of high-yielding varieties (HYVs) has been regarded as the cheapest and the most environmentally friendly approach to higher productivity.

More varieties have been developed and released already by both the Sugar Regulatory Administration (formerly the Philippine Sugar Institute (PHILSUGIN) and the Victorias Milling Company (VMC), which is now under the supervision of PHILSURIN thru its Research and Development. Among the varieties released by VMC, VMC 86-550 is highly favored by growers because of its stable high sugar content, self-trashiness and erectness. For SRA released, Phil 7464 has gained acceptance not only in Luzon but also in Visayas due to its vigorous growth and high tonnage (Phil. Recommends).

Earlier released varieties were phased out and replaced by newer ones that are better yielder and more resistant to diseases. Table 1 shows the recently released sugarcane varieties developed by SRA and VMC and their characteristics.

It can be noted however, that of the more than 20 varieties currently planted nationwide (Table 2), not even one of the above new varieties have reached yet the producer. Majority of the varieties planted by farmers are still those released in the 70s and 80s. According to the report of task force PATDAN, more than 80% of the sugarcane area is planted to SRA bred varieties while about 8% are planted to VMC bred and released varieties.

In Bicol, currently planted sugarcane varieties are those released in the 70's and 80's. Majority of the sugarcane areas (about 40%) is planted to Phil 6607, locally referred to by planters as James bond and about 13% still practiced the use of mixed varieties (Table 3).

In an effort to upgrade the existing plantations, local SRA office at San Agustin, Pili has dispersed eleven (11) High Yielding Varieties (HYV) from Victoria Milling Corporation (VMC) and Balayan MDCC to selected farmers (Table 4). In support to this project, the office has identified also strategic nursery sites and leased it for the rapid propagation of HYVs under the Accelerated Nursery and Distribution Program (ANDP). At present, a total of 8 nurseries with total aggregate area of 9 hectares are now operational in the municipalities of Pili, Ocampo, Bula, Goa and Naga City.

The nurseries are managed and operated by the selected cooperators, usually cooperatives with large number of memberships. Planting materials for each nursery were provided by MCDC, free of charge on a condition that 25% of their first cutback will be re-distributed to their qualified members. The same agreement is employed for succeeding beneficiaries.