If you live in a warm climate, learn How to Grow Sugarcane in your own backyard! It’s an easy and enjoyable process with a juicy reward!
Sugarcane is a grass from the Poaceae family. It grows in tropics and cultivated in all the subtropical and tropical parts of the world to make sugar crystal and syrup. Fresh sugarcane juice is also relished and prized for its nutritional properties. With so much goodness it offers, you might be wondering how to cultivate them? Let’s find everything about How to Grow Sugarcane!
What is Sugarcane?
Sugarcanes are subtropical/tropical grass. They are native to India, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the southern United States, and Hawaii. This plant is responsible for more than 70% sugar production in the entire world! One foot of the plant produces several erect stems. They are 2 to 5 cm in diameter and grow up to 10-15 feet in height. It takes about 6-24 months for the plant to grow to maturity.
Propagation and Planting
You can grow sugarcane from both Stem cuttings and seeds. Though, it is highly recommended that you do it with cuttings, as growing it from the seeds can be a hit or miss.
Get seeds from a nearby nursery or order online. Sow them 2 inches deep in a pot and keep it at a location that receives ample sunlight. Keep the soil moist, and the seeds will sprout in 2-3 weeks.
Purchase a stalk of sugarcane from a nursery that has at least one bud. Select an area in your garden that gets ample sunlight and till the soil, creating 4-6 inches deep furrows. Now cut the stalk into 6-8 inches pieces, making sure that each piece has a bud as it plays a vital role in improving the germination.
Plant it in a furrow and add 3-5 inches of soil on top. Add water to make the soil damp. Continue to water the site, ensuring that you are never letting it dry out.
Requirements for Growing Sugarcane
Choose a sunny location: The more sun, the better. A South or West facing planting site is best!
Sugar cane grows easily in a variety of soil types, but the most appropriate soil should be loamy, well-drained, deep, and rich with organic material, having a pH between 5 to 8.5.
Water regularly to keep the soil slightly moist but not wet. During the first 4-6 weeks after planting, be careful with the watering and never allow the soil to go dry. Also, avoid flooding the area as this will cause the emerging shoots to die.
As sugarcane is a grass, it requires nitrogen-rich fertilizer to grow. The application of a complete fertilizer is sufficient. You can also use any balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. Fertilize light when the canes start to come up and every 3-4 months thereafter.
In a region with mild winters and a well-protected situation, it can be grown on the ground easily. But cover the soil with a thick mulch during winter.
Sugarcane is prey to pests like grubs, aphids, and scale insects, which can be taken care of with a strong spray of water and neem oil solution. Also, check out our article on organic pesticides to treat the same. You also have to be careful with the rats as they can cause extensive damage.
In diseases, sugarcane is mostly affected by leaf scald disease, red rot, and rust.
It takes 8-10 months in Louisiana and 18-22 months in Hawaii for the sugarcane to mature. To know the right time of harvesting, tap on the canes to hear a metallic sound. Also, watch for yellow and dry leaves. Make a slanting cut to one of the canes to check the juice oozing from the stem.
Using lopping shears, cut the stems as close to the ground possible. After cutting, rinse them thoroughly and cut them in shorter sections that are going to aid you in storing. As they have a long shelf life, you can store them for a long duration of time.
Other Uses for Sugar Cane
- Its roots and stems are used in the treatment of urinary tract infections.
- Mixing its juice with ginger soothes soar throat.
- It is also popular in making alcoholic beverages and vinegar.