SASRI conducts research and provides services to minimise the effects of diseases on crop production. While many diseases affect sugarcane, four are regarded as serious, with major economic impact on the crop. These are Ratoon Stunt (RSD), Smut, Mosaic and Rust.

Through its Biosecurity Inspectorate, SASRI acts together with Local Pest, Disease and Variety Control Committees to implement procedures to mitigate damage and loss. They also ensure that varieties planted in each control area conform to the annual list of cane varieties gazetted for that specific area.


Ratoon Stunt (RSD)

Ratoon Stunt is a major sugarcane disease which causes substantial yield loss. Affected crops will decline progressively with each ratoon, with farmers suffering yield losses of up to 40%. It stands to reason, therefore, that early detection is crucial for any farming enterprise.
Since the disease does not have easily recognisable symptoms, it often goes unnoticed and can only be reliably diagnosed by the SASRI RSD Laboratory. This facility has been helping farmers since the 1970s, and has always kept abreast of the latest technologies in disease diagnosis. SASRI has developed a suite of management strategies against this disease, and advises farmers accordingly. SASRI also offers training to neighbouring countries on disease surveys, sample collection and diagnostic techniques.


“Detect and Control: The Key to Improve Yields!”

Solen Subramoney

RSD Diagnosis Supervisor


How to collect samples:

Follow these simple steps to improve the chances of detecting RSD:

  • Only sample cane that is 9 months or older (in most extension areas).
  • Target stunted stools.
  • One 20-stalk sample should be taken from every 5 ha section in commercial fields.
  • One 40-stalk sample should be taken from intended seedcane fields.
  • Once the samples have been collected, sap should be extracted from stalks as soon as possible.

Diagnosis Costs

RSD Diagnosis Prices for 2020/21

South Africa (incl.VAT):

EB-EIA per sample – R70.15
PCM per sample – R112.70
Tissue blot/ 20 plants – R184.00
Sugarcane Yellow Leaf Virus/ 20 leaves – R265.65


EB-EIA per sample – R98.00
PCM per sample – R133.00
IFM per sample – R217.00

Visit our e-Library for more information.