ABSTRACT: Mechanical harvesting leaves in its wake a considerable amount of straw in the field, which can be effectively utilized to improve the soil condition and sugarcane yield. However, there is no specific information as to the quantity of straw mulch required to achieve such effects and as to whether it can be used in other sectors for bioelectricity and ethanol production. The aim of this research was to evaluate the effect of removing different amounts of straw from the field and its impact on the yield and industrial quality of sugarcane ratoons. The experiment was carried out on Rhodic soil where six treatments were evaluated including 0 %, 25 % (5 Mg ha−1), 50 % (10 Mg ha−1), 75 % (15 Mg ha−1), 100 % (20 Mg ha−1) straw on the soil surface and burned sugarcane (where 100 % of the straw was burned). The influence on yield and industrial quality was calculated using total soluble solids, Pol (Apparent sucrose content), apparent purity, total sugars, reducing sugars and fiber. Shifting the harvesting system from burned cane to growing under straw mulch improved crop yield as well as favoring sugar contents during water deficit conditions. The straw left on the soil did not affect industrial quality in any way during the trials; however, under drought conditions, treatments with 50 and 75 % of straw resulted in a 76 % higher yield compared to burned sugarcane, and 29 % more than the 0 %, 25 % to 100 % treatments of straw mulch thus favoring higher sugar production. The removal of 50 % of the straw caused no damage to the sugarcane crop.