NOBLE SUGARCANES AND MODERN CULTIVARS IN TAHITI RELATIVE TO ORGANIC RUM PRODUCTION: DESCRIPTION AND KEY CHARACTERISTICS
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, various actions regarding sugarcane improvement were implemented. Researchers and breeders created new varieties for the sugar industry, more resistant to pests and diseases and more productive than noble sugarcanes. Today, modern cultivars are used for both sugar industry and distillery and noble sugarcanes are no more cultivated for this purpose. However, they could be cultivated in some particular contexts such as the organic cultivation, where the production costs are similar for both cane varieties. In Tahiti, a company decided in 2015 to produce organic rum from both noble sugarcanes and modern cultivars. A 2 835 m² experimentation was installed on a machineable land, representative to agriculture requirements. Six noble sugarcanes plus three modern cultivars all found locally (315 m² / variety) were tested. The agronomic yields reached were around 70 tons/ha for the best noble sugarcanes and around 100 tons/ha for the modern cultivars while at small-scale industrial processing, the noble sugarcanes present a greater juice extraction about 10 to 25% more than the modern varieties. In this situation, the organic cultivation of noble sugarcanes
could be a valuable improvement regarding the whole agriculture and sugarcane industry in French Polynesia. In the future, we will also study the aromatic contents within the noble sugarcane plants and determine if it can improve the quality of the rum.