Scientifi name: Saccharum officinarum
Sugarcane belongs to bamboo family of plants and is indigenous to India. It is the main source of sugar, gur and khandsari. About two-thirds of the total sugarcane produced in India is consumed for making gur and khandsari and only one third of it goes to sugar factories. It also provides raw material for manufacturing alcohol.
Bagasse, the crushed cane residue, can be more beneficially used for manufacturing paper instead of using it as fuel in the mills. It is also an efficient substitute for petroleum products and a host of other chemical products.
A part of it is also used as fodder. Sugarcane accounts for the largest value of production and holds an enviable position among all the commercial crops in India. Obviously, it is the first choice of the farmers, wherever geographical conditions favour its growth.
India has the largest area under sugarcane cultivation in the world and she is the world’s second largest producer of sugarcane next only to Brazil.
Sugarcane is able to grow over a prolonged season. Under warm humid conditions, it can continue its growth, unless terminated by flowering. Temperatures above 50o C arrest its growth; those below 20 o C slow it down markedly and severe frost proves fatal. The crop does best in the tropical regions receiving a rainfall of 750-1200mm. For ripening, it needs a cool, dry season; but where rainfall is too heavy and prolonged, the quality of the juice tends to be low, and where the weather remains comparatively.
Sugarcane grows best on medium heavy soils, but can also be raised on lighter soils and heavy clays, provided there is adequate irrigation available in the former type of soils and drainage is good in the latter type of soils. In many places, dark rich clay loams, 120-150cm deep, and lying on a previous substratum of murum (distintegrated traprock) ae used for this crop. In some areas.
CO – 419, CO – 740, CO – 7219 (Sanjivini), CO.M – 7125, CO – 7527, CO.M – 88121(7714), CO –8014 (Mahalaxmi), CO – 86032 (Nira), CO.C – 671, CO.C – 85061, CO – 8011, CO.M. – 7114, CO.S.I – 776,
The availability of good quality cane seed materials (setts) from a nursery crop of 10-11 months are essential for better germination and good growth. The treatments included were namely control, 0.05% Bavistin, 2.5% Urea, 2.5% KCI, 2.5% KCI+Urea, 1% Hadron. Two budded setts were used for planting after treating with above chemicals. Also hot water treatment is given to prevent seed borne diseases.
Planting of sugarcane is done in three seasons that is suru- January-February, adsali – July-August and pre seasonal- October-November for planting generally ridges and furrows are prepared on 100-120cm spacing. For planting one hectare area 25-30 thousand three eye buded cane setts are required.
Adequate manuring is essential for sustained high yields. The general recommendation in most places is to apply half to two-thirds of the nitrogen in the form of bulky organic manures, such as farmyard manure, compost, green manure or tree leaves, and the remainder in the form of ammonium sulphate or oil-cakes or a combination of the two. For sugarcane fertilizer is recommended according to planting season and it is varied from growing tract to tract. In general for suru sugarcane 250:115:115 for Adsali 400:170:170 and for pre seasonal 340:170:170 kg nitrogen, phosphorus and potash per hectare is recommended respectively. For ratooning 250:115:115kg nitrogen, phosphorus and potash per hectare is recommended.
Water requirement of sugarcane varies from 2000 to 2500 mm depending upon its duration, soil type and climatological factors. For sugarcane germination, tillering, grand growth and maturity are the critical stages for irrigation. During germination phase (1-35 days) there should be enough moisture in the soil for better germination but waterlogging is undesirable as it leads to rotting of setts. During this period irrigation can be scheduled at weekly intervals. But irrigation at 10 days interval during tillering stage (36-100 days) is sufficient. The formative and grand growth stages (101-270 days) are the critical stages for water demand. During this period irrigation can be practised at weekly intervals. At the maturity phase (271 days to harvest) fortnightly irrigation is enough. Irrigation will have to be stopped at 15 days prior to harvest.
In early days, application of paddy straw or spreading of sugarcane trash in the field will decrease the evaporation and thus decrease the water demand of the crop besides improving the yield.
Hoeing and earthing-up
The first hoeing an weeding should be given to the crop three to four weeks after planting. After germination, depending on the field conditions and the frequency of irrigation, two or three more hoeings and weedings may be required during the first three months after planting with the coming up of the crop. The final earthing-up should be completed before the monsoon rains, and should generally synchronize with the application of the final dose of fertilizer. This helps to keep down the weeds.
Tying of cane
It is very desirable to tie up the canes so that they may not sway during the winds, and lodge. The best way to do the tying is to bring together the stalks from adjacent rows and tie them together with their own trash and old leaves. In many places cane is tied at two or three levels with twists of cane trash, the twistline going from one end of the row to the other; sometimes the stalks are further propped up with bamboos.
Termites are attack planted sugarcane setts, usually from the cut ends or eyebuds, but in severe cases internode as well; after germination, the roots are attacked and pest ascends in the canes, eating all their contents and filling the galleries with earth; leaves dry up and the plants die; more active in sandy soils and in drier tracts.
Use only well-rotted manure, mix thoroughly 5% Aldrin or Chlordane dust with the soil; if the standing crop is attacked, apply Aldrin E.C. at 3kg a.i/ha diluted with 2,000 litres of water as near the roots as possible.
Causing dead-hearts which can be easily pulled out; the maximum activity is observed during April to August; responsible for serious losses in tonnage and sugar recovery.
Practice cleans cultivation; plant healthy setts; give two light stage of the crop; avoid ratooning; systematically collect and destroy egg masses; remove dead-hearts and do deep harvesting.
Newly hatched caterpillars scrape the leaf spindle; later, they bore into the tender cane tops; the growing-point is damaged and results in a dead-heart; active from July till harvest; the pest causes more loss in tonnage than in juice quality.
Burn all trash after harvest; Practice clean cultivation; collect and destroy egg masses and larvae during early stages of crop.
It is a fungal disease. The symptoms of the disease will appear when the crop is about six months old. At the initial stage, drying of top leaves can be seen. The leaf starts withering and drooping almost all shoots in a clump starts drying one by one. Red lesions with straw coloured centres develop on the midrib of leaves.
Uproot and destroy all the clumps as soon as symptoms appear. Avoid ratooning. Use disease free and heat-treated setts for planting. After harvest, collect and burn the plant debris. Grow resistant varieties like CO-7706, CO-86032 and tolerant varieties are CO-8021 and CO-62175.
Follow crop rotation. Dip the setts in systemic fungicide Benomyl (0.1%) solution for at least 30 minutes before planting.
It is fungal disease. The symptoms can be seen on the crop from the time it is one month old upto harvesting time. The affected young plants show excessive tillering and at the end of each shoot, a black whip like structure, full of fungal spores is produced.
Use disease free and heat-treated setts for planting. Dip the setts in Carbendazim solution (0.1%) before planting at least for 30 minutes. Uproot and destroy the infected clumps. Avoid ratooning. Grow resistant varieties like CO-85004, CO-86032, CO-6608, CO-6609, CO-62101, CO-1342, CO-12582, CO-8021 and CO-62175.
Grassy shoot disease
This disease is caused by Mycoplasma like organism and is severe on ratoon crop than on the main crop. Symptoms are stunting, profuse tillering and grass like growth of shoots (busy appearance) and yellowing of leaves with short internodes.
Use disease free and heat-treated setts for planting. Uproot and destroy the infected clumps.
Avoid ratooning. Spray Endosulfan (0.2%) to kill insect vectors i.e., aphids which transmit the disease. Use resistant varieties like CO-7219, CO-740, CO-8014 and CO-8011.
The maturity of sugarcane is generally recognized by the lower leaves gradually withering up and leaving progressively fewer green leaves at the top. A ripe cane, out across with a sharp knife, shows against sunlight a slight sparkling in its flesh in contrast to the more watery cut surface of an unripe cane. If the grower can keep and use a hand sugar refractometer, the testing of maturity would be easier. The hand refractometer reading of 20, the cane crop may be considered to have reached the stage of maturity. Small Mill Test (SMT) will be a real solution for this perennial problem. For conducting SMT, few canes (say about 10 canes) have to be cut from the field and the samples are analyzed after crushing the cane in a small mill for poll, brix, purity and ccs% in the laboratory which clearly gives the maturity status of the cane.
Harvesting system and harvesting unit
The Cooperative generally begins the sugarcane harvest about the first of November and continues for an average of 150 days. The sugarcane harvest is timed and coordinated undertaking to allow for maximum utilization of the mill’s grinding capacity. At present the harvesting and supply of sugarcane is done by the farmers after receiving the cutting orders from the factory authorities.
The cutting orders are issued depending upon the date of planting as found in the records and agreement between the farmers and factory. This system will not hold good, as uniform maturity of the cane crop can’t be controlled even by planting early maturing varieties in the early season. In a typical harvesting unit, three or four harvesters operate in tandem with six to eight tractors and strings of wagons. The huge machines contain rotating knives, which cut the sugarcane at the base of the stalk. The cane tops are also cut off by rotating knives and the excess foliage is removed by giant extraction fans. As the sugarcane passes through the harvester, it is cut into 12-inch lengths called billets and then put into in-field wagons. The sugarcane is then hauled to near-by transfer stations and loaded into semi-trailers for delivery.
The average yield of a 11 to 12 month-old plant crop under commercial cultivation is 100 tonnes per hectare in case of suru, 170 tonnes per hectare for Adsali and 120 tonnes per hectare in case of pre seasonal sugarcane.