The sugar industry is an important contributor to the South African (SA) economy, with average annual production estimated at 2.5 million tons of sugar. This study aims to quantify actual use of management instruments by a sample of commercial sugarcane farmers in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) that are commonly associated with risk management, and uses factor analysis to investigate the extent to which these farmers bracket their management decisions. Data were obtained in 2006 via personal interviews of a stratified random sample of 76 large-scale sugarcane farmers in two separate mill-supply areas of KZN. Respondents were asked questions regarding risk-related management strategies, including diversification of on-farm enterprises, investments and management time. Factor analysis identified six management choice brackets, collectively explaining 77% of the variance in all of the 12 risk-related management responses considered. Recommendations that stem from these findings include that policy makers create a more enabling business environment and that government make labour legislation more flexible. Farmers need to search for information more proactively and develop management strategies that reduce barriers to efficiency. Future research based on time series data could be important to identify how management portfolios and choice bracketing levels change over time.