All about Sugarcane

Sugarcane is an important cash crop of Pakistan. It is mainly grown for sugar and sugary production. It is an important source of income and employment for the farming community of the country. It also forms essential item for industries like sugar, chip board, paper, barrages, confectionery, uses in chemicals, plastics, paints, synthetics, fiber, insecticides and detergents

Sugarcane is an important industrial and cash crop in Pakistan and in many countries of the world. It is grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world in a range of climates from hot dry environment near sea level to cool and moist environment at higher elevations. Besides sugar production, sugarcane produces numerous valuable byproducts like, alcohol used by pharmaceutical industry, ethanol used as a fuel, bagasse used for paper, and chip board manufacturing and press mud used as a rich source of organic matter and nutrients for crop production.

Benefits Of Sugarcane !!!!!

Sugarcane is a form of grass that belongs to Poaceae family. It is native to the regions of the Old World, ranging from warm temperate ones to tropical ones. Sugarcanes have a stout, jointed and fibrous stalk, which can measure 2 to 6 meters in height. They are rich in sugar and today, are being grown in over 200 countries of the world. In 2005, Brazil was the largest producer of sugarcane in the world, followed by India. Apart from being the source of sugar, sugarcanes are also consumed in the raw form, especially in India. The juice from sugarcane is also very healthy and is loaded with a range of essential nutrients. Cane juice is a natural high-energy drink, which makes it a healthy alternative to refined sugar added drinks. The health and nutrition benefits that result from consuming sugarcane, in the raw form as well as in the form of juice, have been listed below.

Health & Nutrition Benefits of Eating Sugarcanes !!!!!
•Sugarcane, being low on glycemic index, helps keep the body fit and healthy.
•Sugarcane juice has been found to be very beneficial for preventing as well as treating sore throat, cold and flu.
•Since sugarcane has no simple sugar, it can be enjoyed by diabetics without any fear. However, they intake should still be limited for people suffering from type-2 diabetes.
•Being alkaline in nature, sugarcane juice helps the body in fighting against cancer, especially prostate and breast cancer.
•Sugarcane provides glucose to the body, which is stored as glycogen and burned by the muscles, whenever they require energy. Therefore, it is considered to be one of the best sources of energy.
•If you have been exposed to heat and physical activity for too long, drink sugarcane juice. It will help hydrate the body quickly.
•Sugarcane is believed to strengthen stomach, kidneys, heart, eyes, brain, and sex organs.
•Sugarcane juice is an excellent substitute for aerated drinks and cola.
•Sugarcane clears the urinary flow and also helps the kidney to perform its functions smoothly.
•Sugarcane juice has been found to be good for those who are suffering from febrile disorders. Febrile disorders are responsible for causing fevers, which can result in a great amount of protein loss from the body. Liberal consumption of sugar cane juice provides the necessary protein and other food elements to the body.
•Sugarcane is beneficial for micturation, caused due to high acidity, along with genorrhoea, enlarged prostate, cyctitis and nepthritis. Mixing sugarcane juice with lime juice, ginger juice and coconut water will give better results.
•Sugarcane juice is said to speed up the recovery process after jaundice.
•As sugarcane consists of carbohydrates, in good quantities, it serves to refresh and energize the body. It supplies instant energy to working muscles and for this reason, it is also known to maximize performance in sports and endurance.
•Sugarcane is also good for digestion, as it can effectively work as a mild laxative because of its high potassium content.
1. Sugarcane Production In Pakistan!!!!!!!
Pakistan occupies an important position in cane producing countries of the world. It ranks at the fifth position in cane acreage and production and almost 15th position in sugar production. A comparison of cane yield and sugar recovery in some cane growing countries is given in the table below.

Area and yield of sugarcane in some major cane growing countries

Area (000 ha)
Cane yield (t/ha)














South Africa



D. Republic of Korea


Yield of sugarcane and sugar recovery in main sugarcane growing countries of the world:

Cane yield (t/ha)
Sugar recovery (%)
Sugar yield (t/ha)









World Avg.



Our sugar yield i.e. cane yield x sugar recovery %cane is less than half of the developed cane growing countries of the world. Still it is not the lowest in the world.

The goal of increasing sugar yield per unit area is difficult, time consuming and needs dedicated efforts of government, millers and the growers.

Some of the measures to bring down the cost of cultivation and improve cane productivity include the selection of the right varieties, maintenance of soil health, quality planting material, nutrient management, the adoption of copping systems approach, weed management, water management, ratoon management and sound post harvest handling, according to the scientists.

3.1 Role of Grower:

As Grower is the main key factor which can help to increase the sugarcane production from the field. In Pakistan most of the grower doesn’t know the proper method or procedure of sugarcane cultivation. So that’s why the cane produced is of no good quality and we have less cane and sugar recovery. So it is recommended that there should be organizations who should guide the growers to increase their production. Here are some of the steps that if taken properly can improve the sugar cane production.

3.2 Improvement in Production Technology

3.2.1 Land preparation:
Sugarcane is a deep-rooted crop and proper land preparation plays an important role in the development of cane root system, and achieving optimal growth of the crop. Land should be prepared by deep ploughing at least after every two years. The soil should be disked.

It is very important that well-rotten farmyard manure (FYM) should be applied a month prior to land preparation. Press mud from the sugar industry is another excellent source of organic matter and nutrients. .Green manuring may also serve the purpose.

Soil in the prepared field should be friable and well worked so that full germination takes place and later on plants grow without any inhibiting barriers (compact sub-soil layer).

3.2.2 Soil Insect Control at Planting Time

Growers should be ever mindful of practices they can use to decrease the possibility of soil insect damage. Only two crop conditions require use of a soil insecticide in Louisiana sugarcane fields and usually only in sandy soils. These are:

(a) When pasture, turf or grass-infested land is brought into cane production for the first time or after being out of cane production for several years. There are usually enough grubs or wireworms already established in this type of land to warrant a preventive application of insecticide at cane planting time. However, a soil insecticide application may not be needed with the second plant-cane crop if the field has been kept reasonably free of grass during the ratoon crops.

(b) When cane fields are extremely grassy, particularly when cane is planted in a field that was not kept free of heavy grass infestation when fallow. Ongoing wireworm and white grub infestations will persist in grassy fields. Again, this may be needed only on light or mixed soils.

Growers with fields similar to those described should consider control measures for soil insects at planting time and base chemical control on verification of soil insect pest infestations (with fermented corn baits). Based on new research data, the economic threshold is slightly above one wireworm per bait sample before planting. Soil insecticides have had a suppressive effect on beneficial predators in sugarcane studies.

3.2.3. Planting time:

The selection of an appropriate planting method and schedule greatly influences crop growth, maturity, and yield. Since low temperature and moisture stress are detrimental to germination and subsequent establishment, the planting season in subtropical regions is preferably spring. But in areas where winter is severe enough to restrict growth or even kill sugarcane, planting material may only be available in autumn, thus necessitating pre-winter planting. In tropical regions, particularly where irrigation is not practiced, a sufficiently moist season should be selected for planting and establishment.

There are two planting seasons: fall and spring. Fall planting starts from the first week of September and continues to mid-October in the Punjab and Sindh, while in the NWFP planting is done in October and November. Spring planting starts from mid-February and lasts until the end of March in the Punjab and Sindh. These planting times are strictly observed because late planting can reduce the yield by as much as 30 percent.

September planted crop usually produces 25 to 35 % higher yield. In Pakistan Planting time of Sugarcane planting is usually carried out in autumn and spring seasons. Autumn planting is of high yield and high sugar recovery compared to spring planting. In fact, September planting gives very luxuriant growth, which is mostly vulnerable to lodging. The crop gives good appearance till June-July but is subject to lodging in July or even earlier if there are windstorms or excessive rains. Around 26 per cent of the growers plant sugarcane in October, 45 per cent in November, 2 per cent in December and 7 per cent in February.

3.2.4. Seed rate and planting pattern:

Appropriate seed rate and spacing are often ignored by farmers, with the result that the optimum plant population, which is the key factor in sugarcane production, is not achieved in the field. The seed rate and spacing between rows differ with variety. Thick-cane cultivars like ‘BL-4’, ‘Triton’, and ‘PR-1000’ require a higher seed rate and more space between the rows than thin and medium-cane varieties. Eight to nine tonnes of stripped cane per hectare for thick varieties, and six to seven tones for medium to thin varieties is sufficient to produce a desired plant population of about 0.15 million canes/ha. A spacing of 1 m between the rows of thick varieties, and 0.60-0.75 m for thin to medium varieties allows sufficient space for operations like intercultural and earthing up.

3.2.5. Method of Planting:

Sugarcane should be planted at a row spacing of 90 cm to 1 m. Two budded double sets should be placed end to end in the furrows covered with 2 to 3 cm soil layer. About 3.2 to 4 tonnes seed (80 to 100 maunds) of thin cane varieties and 4 to 5 tonnes seed (100 to 120 maunds) of thick varieties is sufficient to plant one acre.

Research has shown good yield increases in tonnage and sugar per acre when the planted row was widened from the V-furrow to the 15- to 18-inch furrow. It showed further yield increases as the furrow width was increased from 15 to 18 to 24 inches. Based on this research and the problems encountered by growers in handling furrow widths of more than 18 inches, it is suggested that growers use a 15- to 18-inch furrow for planting in 2001. Growers who can successfully handle the 24-inch width furrow are encouraged to do so. It is also suggested that the furrow opener be constructed to leave a wide bottom with a slight indentation on each side of the furrow and a slight ridge of loose soil in the middle of the furrow bottom. This opening configuration can be obtained by attaching a single disk on each side of the row opener to dig out the furrow sides and deposit the soil in the furrow middle. Some growers have found that packing rows ahead of opening will give more uniform furrows when opening with a three-row opener.

3.2.6. Depth of Planting with Relation to Water Furrow

To avoid water damage to seed cane, it should be placed at least 3 to 4 inches above the final water furrow or middle. In soils with poor internal drainage, the seed cane should be placed even higher above the final water furrow.

Growers should be aware of the need to keep the seed cane above the area where water levels will hurt cane stands. Low row height at planting time could be a problem, especially with billet seed cane.

3.2.7. Hot water seed treatment
Seed may be treated with hot water at 520 C for 30 minutes and with fungicide. This will help in better germination and the control of many cane diseases.

Soaking cuttings and treating with running water for 48 hours sometimes enhances germination of old cuttings. Soaking in hot water (500C) for 20 minutes greatly enhances germination. This, however, is difficult to control at a practical level. Treatment with running water has been suggested to remove fermentation products and inhibitors from the cutting. Indoleacetic acids (IAA) or naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) treatment enhances root growth but delays bud development. Acetylene promotes the growth of the cutting. Substances including ethyl alcohol, ammonium phosphate, complete nutrient solution, and ferrous sulphate have all on occasions proved beneficial to germination. On the other hand, at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, experiments have shown that soaking cane setts in water, cow urine, and 2% KmnO4 solution before planting reduced yield (Table 16.7).

Table Effects of various pre-planting seed treatments on the cane yield of ‘Co.L-54’.

Cane yield (t/ha)

Normal setts (unsoaked)

Soaked in water

Soaked in cow urine

Soaked in 20% KmnO4

Source: Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad

3.2.8. Amount of Soil Cover over Seed Cane

Research on depth of soil cover over seed cane indicates that soil cover in excess of 4 inches can cause yield losses even if the excess is removed in the spring following planting.

Heat-treated cane should be covered with 2 inches of packed soil. After the cane is up to a good stand and before freezing weather occurs, add an additional 2 inches of soil to protect from freeze damage. Do not cover heat-treated cane with more than 2 inches of packed soil at planting.

3.2.9. Varieties:

Use healthy seed of improved varieties of sugarcane. This can increase cane yield from 20 to 25 per cent. Sugarcane varieties recommended for various provinces are given in Table 4.

Around 95 per cent planted BL-4 variety in the study area. This variety flourishes very well in heavy fertile and well-drained soil with good irrigation. As the variety occupied good fields, it established high yields. New variety BF-12-is yet in the stage of multiplication, while SPSG -26 and Th-10, has just been introduced. Results show that 87 per cent planted recommended varieties and the remaining 13 per cent planted non-recommended varieties The economic life span of sugarcane variety varies from 8 to 10 years and after that replacement the variety is necessary.

Age of sugarcane crop:

The maturing/harvesting age of sugarcane crop in most of the sugarcane growing countries are more than a year (15-24 months) but in Pakistan it is an annual crop (10-12 months) and some other countries are: Hawaii (18-24 months), Java (Indonesia) (12-15 months), Mauritius (14-20 months), Australia (20-25 months),South Africa (22-24 months), Philippines (11-14 months), Cuba (12-15 months), India (10-12 months),Pakistan (10-12 months).
3.2.19. Harvesting

Stop irrigation 25 to 30 days before the harvest of crop and do not leave the harvested crop for long in the field. In case it has to be kept for a prolonged period, it should be covered with trash. Different varieties planted may be harvested according to their maturity. Harvesting of early maturing varieties may be started during November, mid season varieties during December and the late maturing varieties during January. The crop harvested during February-March gives good ratoon crop.

Harvesting is done when the crop has fully matured and ripened. Early varieties and ratoon crops are the first to be harvested. When the stem is close to the surface, great vigilance is required in order to cut the maximum portion of the stem, which is valuable both for its weight and sugar content. The harvested cane should be immediately hauled to the mill otherwise weight and sucrose losses may occur. For this purpose, transport should be arranged in advance.

By. Uzma paracha

Muhammad Ramzan Rafique
Muhammad Ramzan Rafique

I am from a small town Chichawatni, Sahiwal, Punjab , Pakistan, studied from University of Agriculture Faisalabad, on my mission to explore world I am in Denmark these days..

Articles: 4630

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *