Growing Sugarcane and Cultivation Practices

Growing Sugarcane.
Growing Sugarcane.

Growing Sugarcane:

The following is all about Growing Sugarcane and Cultivation Practices.

Introduction to Growing Sugarcane

The Sugarcane is basically tall perennial grass belongs to the genus of “Saccharum” and a family of “Poaceae”. Sugarcane is native to temperate to tropical regions of South Asia. Sugarcane has been an economically important commodity crop just like maize, rice, wheat, and sorghum, and many forage crops. Sugarcane has stout, jointed stalks that are rich in the sugar sucrose. The demand for sugar mainly derived from Growing Sugarcane. There are many other industrial byproducts such as ethanol, molasses, falernum, and bagasse derived from sugarcane other than sugar. The commercial production of sugarcane is one of the lucrative and profitable agricultural businesses throughout the world. Generally, sugarcane is considered as both the commercial cash crop and fodder crop for livestock.

The following content is all about growing sugarcane commercially, planting methods of sugarcane,  pests, and diseases in sugarcane crop and other agricultural management practices of sugarcane.

Sugarcane Plant Description

Sugarcane is a tropical perennial grass and forms lateral shoots at the base for multiplication of stems. The sugarcane plants can reach a typical height of 10 feet to 13 feet and 2 inches in diameter. The cane stalk in matured stage constitutes around 75% of the entire plant. A mature cane stalk is typically composed of 11% to 15% fiber, 12% to 15% soluble sugar, 2% to 3% non-sugars, and 63% to 73% water.

Scientific / Botanical Name of Sugarcane

  • Saccharum officinarum.

Top 10 Sugarcane Production Countries in the World

  1. Brazil.
  2. India.
  3. China.
  4. Thailand
  5. Pakistan.
  6. Mexico.
  7. Colombia.
  8. Philippines.
  9. Indonesia.
  10. USA.

Top Ten Sugarcane Production States in India

  1. Uttar Pradesh.
  2. Maharashtra.
  3. Karnataka.
  4. Tamilnadu.
  5. Bihar.
  6. Gujarat.
  7. Andhra Pradesh plus Telangana.
  8. Haryana.
  9. Punjab.
  10. Uttarakhand.

Sugarcane Common Names In India

  • English: Sugarcane.
  • Tamil: Karuppan.
  • Malayalam: Karumbin.
  • Telugu: Cheraku.
  • Kannada: Kabbina.
  • Hindi: Ganne.
  • Bengali: Ikkhu.
  • Gujarati: Sherdina.
  • Marathi: Usacha.
  • Oriya: Akhju.
  • Punjabi: Ganne.

Sugarcane Varieties / Sugarcane Cultivars

  • There are many hybrid or commercial varieties developed in most of the countries. We cannot list all the sugarcane cultivar list here. Please contact local department of agriculture for higher yielding and suitable sugarcane varieties.

Suitable Agro-Climatic Conditions for Growing Sugarcane

Sugarcane can be cultivated both in the tropics and subtropics. However, the temperature of the soil of the regions greatly affects the growth and yield.

  • The optimum temperature for sugarcane growth: 20 to 44°C.
  • The annual rainfall requirement for sugar cane: It should be moderate and evenly distributed. A 150 to 250 cm annual rainfall is good enough for sugarcane production.

Suitable Soil for Growing Sugarcane

The soil plays a major role in successful sugarcane cultivation. As sugarcane is a long duration crop (10 months to 15 months, this duration varies from variety to variety) and one can take multiple harvests from the original plantation, you must consider fertile soil with good drainage though it can be grown on a wide range of soils. If you are planning for commercial Growing Sugarcane, consider the following.

  • Black cotton soils with good drainage.
  • Deep and loamy soils rich in humus (organic matter) with good drainage.
  • The optimum soil pH for Growing Sugarcane is 6.5, however, it can tolerate certain extent of soil acidity and alkalinity. Hence, it can be grown in soil with a pH in the range of 5 to 8.5.
  • Avoid water logging fields as sugarcane crop may be affected by many diseases such as root rot etc..

Land Preparation of Growing Sugarcane

  • Give 3 to 4 deep ploughings to bring the soil to fine tilth stage, it is advised to expose the field to sunlight for a couple of weeks before planting starts.
  • Use local tractor for land preparation activities.
  • Remove any weeds, dried trees or any previous crop waste.
  • Destroy any clods during ploughing to bring the field levelled.
  • Supplement the field with 30 to 40 tonnes/ha of well-decomposed farmyard manure (FMY) such as cattle dung during the last plough to increase soil strength (nutrients).
  • Prepare any water channels for making the well-drained field.

Propagation in Growing Sugarcane

  • Sugarcane crop is usually propagated by the vegetative method of cuttings popularly known as “Setts”. One should select these cuttings from high yield and diseases resistant crops. You can get the quality setts from any agriculture research or breeding centers.

Planting Density in Growing Sugarcane

  • Planting density depends on planting method and variety of sugarcane. On an average commercial agriculture of sugarcane requires 20,000 to 25,000 cuttings/ha.

Setts Treatment in Growing Sugarcane

  • The sugarcane setts should be treated by soaking in 100 liters of water dissolved with 50 grams of Carbendazim, 1 kg of urea and 200 ml of malathion.
  • Make sure to treat the sugarcane setts with aerated steam ay 50°C for 60 minutes to prevent grassy shoot disease.

Sowing / Planting Season for Growing Sugarcane

  • It can be grown both as rain-fed and irrigated crop in most of the tropics.
  • For rain-fed crop, the field should be prepared at least 2 to 3 months in advance of monsoons.

Planting Methods in Growing Sugarcane

The following modern planting methods can be used for commercial cultivation of sugarcane.

  • Ridges.
  • Furrows.
  • Pits.
  • Flat Beds.
  • Rayungan.
  • Trench and Jawa.
  • Transplanting.
  • Wet method.

Furrow Method and Plant Spacing in Growing Sugarcane

  • The most popular planting method of commercial Growing Sugarcane is “furrow” method.
  • Make sure to have sugarcane cuttings or setts have a length of 35 cm to 40 cm with minimum 3 budding on each of them before planting.
  • You can discard setts with damaged buds, splits and sprouted.
  • Plant the sugarcane setts horizontally in furrows made with a depth 25 to 30 cm.
  • Plant the setts on one side of the ridge.
  • Cover the planted setts with light topsoil after planting in the field.
  • Sugarcane planting distance should be 90 cm between rows.
  • Any gap filling should be carried out within a month of planting.

Irrigation / Watering  in Growing Sugarcane

  • Watering the sugarcane crop is crucial in different stages of growth. Before starting the commercial cultivation of sugarcane, you must ensure proper irrigation facilities, though you are growing as a rain-fed crop. On an average, a sugarcane crop requires 40 to 45 irrigations for its complete growth. However, this number of irrigation may depend on the soil, variety, a plating method, and climate. Usually, black soils take fewer irrigations they retain moisture for long.
  • Irrigate the field once in 7 days during the emergence of sprouting of setts. Usually, this sett sprouting lasts for 30 to 35 days after planting the setts.
  • Subsequent irrigations should be provided at an interval of 10 to 12 days during the tillering stage. You follow this irrigation 90 days after the plantation on the main field. During the high growth period, this crop requires a good amount of water to establish proper stems. This period can last for 180 days.
  • Finally, Maintain a frequency of irrigation once in 11 to 14 days till the harvesting point.
  • You can use subsurface drip irrigation or furrow method of irrigation depending on available water sources.

Manure and Fertilizers in Growing Sugarcane

Spraying Sugarcane Field by Drone.
Spraying Sugarcane Field by Drone.
  • In most of the agriculture crops, applying manures and fertilizers is essential for crop growth and higher yields. The sugarcane crop responds to very well for these nutrients.
  • Supplement the manure (FMY) as mentioned in land preparation.
  • The total N: P: K (Nitrogen: Phosphorous: Potash) of 250: 250: 250 kg/ha should be applied. However, the application time and amount vary at different stages of crop growth.
  • During planting time of the setts: Apply 25 kg of ‘N’ and 75 Kg of ‘P’ and  75 Kg of ‘K’.
  • 60 days after planting the setts: Apply 100 Kg of ‘N’.
  • 100 days after planting the setts: Apply 25 kg of ‘N’.
  • 170 to 180 days after planting the setts: Apply 100 Kg of ‘N’, 75 Kg of ‘P’, and 75 Kg of ‘P’.

Weed Control in Growing Sugarcane

  • The Sugarcane crop requires multiple weedings as it is more prone to heavy weed growth due to the fact that it takes the good amount of irrigation. Depending on the weed severity in the field, apply suitable herbicides along with other sustainable agriculture practices such as crop rotation with Turmeric crop, Soybean Crop, Groundnut crop, Green gram, Black Gram, and Rice crop. You can carry out weeding after 30 days of planting the setts. However, the application of pre-emergence weedicides such as Atrazine at the rate of 2.5 to 2.75 kg/ha followed by 2, 4–D spray at the rate of 1.5 to 1.6 kg/ha. For appropriate herbicides, you can talk to agriculture professionals in your area.
  • Earthing up can be taken after 100 and 150 days of planting with the help of spade.
  • Remove any dried to prevent any borer infestation.

Pests and Diseases in Growing Sugarcane

  • Mealybug, Shoot borer, Whiteflies, Grasshoppers, Termites, Scales, Aphids and grubs are common pests found in Growing Sugarcane.
  • Yellow leaf disease, Wilt, Red rot, Leaf scald, Red striped, Mosaic and Rust are common diseases found in sugarcane farming.
  • Contact department of agriculture in your area for symptoms and solutions of these pests and diseases in sugarcane crop.

Harvesting in Growing Sugarcane

Sugarcane Harvesting.
Sugarcane Harvesting.
  • The maturity of sugarcane depends on the variety; some varieties will be ready for cutting in 10 months some to 15 months after planting. You can use manual harvesting in case of small areas and mechanical or machine harvesting in case of large-scale cultivation of sugarcane. Harvesting in right time is the most important factor as it can greatly influence the quality of produce.
  • It is recommended to give a slant cut at the base of the plant, leaving some portion from the ground to allow for the next crop.

Yield in Growing Sugarcane

  • Well, sugarcane yield mainly depends on planted variety, soil type, plant density and method, pests and disease control, irrigation/climate and other agricultural practices.
  • On an average, one can obtain a yield of 30 to 40 tonnes/acre.

Marketing of Sugarcane

Ready To Market Sugarcane.
Ready To Market Sugarcane.
  • Freshly harvested sugarcane can be transported to local agriculture markets or sugar processing units.

Growing Sugarcane Tips

  • Select healthy and disease free setts.
  • Avoid planting setts very closely.
  • Avoid water stress during critical growth stages.
  • If you are planning for 3 to 4 harvests with a single crop, select good well-drained fertile soil.
  • Harvest the crop at the right time, delaying may result in loss of quality.
  • You can grow inter-crops like cabbage and cauliflower during the initial growth period.

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