A rapid biochemical test to assess postharvest deterioration of sugarcane and milled juice

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The delivery of consignments of deteriorated sugarcane to factories can detrimentally affect multiple process units, and even lead to a factory shut-down. An enzymatic factory method was used to measure mannitol, a major degradation product of sugarcane Leuconostoc deterioration in the U.S., in press (consignment) and crusher juices collected across the 2004 processing season at a Louisiana factory. Weather conditions varied markedly across the season causing periods of the delivery of deteriorated sugarcane to the factory. A strong polynomial relationship existed between mannitol and haze dextran (R2=0.912) in press and crusher juices. Mannitol concentrations were usually higher than concentrations of monoclonal antibody dextran, which indicates: (i) the usefulness and sensitivity of mannitol to predict sugarcane deterioration from Leuconostoc and other bacteria, and (ii) the underestimation by sugar industry personnel of the relatively large amounts of mannitol present in deteriorated sugarcane that can affect processing. Greater than ˜250-500 ppm/Brix of mannitol in sugarcane juice predicted downstream processing problems. The enzymatic method is quantitative and could be used in a sugarcane payment formula. Approximately > 300 ppm/Brix of haze dextran in raw sugar indicated that the majority of the crystals were elongated. Approximately > 600 ppm/Brix of antibody dextran indicated when elongated crystals were predominant in the raw sugar. The enzymatic mannitol method underestimates mannitol in raw sugars.

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