Sugarcane or sugar cane is a lucrative commercial cash crop. Therefore, sugarcane cultivation is a lucrative farming business opportunity for agropreneurs. Here in this post, let’s have a discussion on how to start commercial sugarcane cultivation.
Basically, sugarcane is a tropical and subtropical perennial grass. It forms lateral shoots at the base to produce multiple stems. The scientific name of sugarcane is Saccharum officinarum. Additionally, it belongs to the grass family Poaceae.
Sugarcane plant is a coarse grass which is quite tall about 10-20 feet. A single plant bears many stems in a tuft. In addition, it comes with thick solid and aerial stem.
Sugarcane cultivation is one of the major farming practices in the world. Some of the major sugarcane growing countries are Brazil, India, China, Thailand, Pakistan, Mexico. Colombia, Philipines, and USA. In India, major sugarcane producing states are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Bihar, Assam, Haryana, and Gujarat.
Economic Importance Of Sugarcane Cultivation
Sugarcane is the main source of sugar in Asia and Europe. Additionally, it is the major raw material for the production of white sugar, jaggery (Gur) and Khandsari. It is also used for chewing and extraction of juice for beverage purpose. Also, you can get various byproducts like bagasse, immature tops, molasses, press mud cake etc. These all have different applications in several fields. Additionally, you can use immature green tops as fodder.
The sugarcane cultivation and sugar industry play a vital role towards socio-economic development globally. Basically, sugarcane is a cash crop gives ready cash to the farmers.
Related: How To Start Sugar Mill Business
Things To Consider In Sugarcane Cultivation
Generally, the plant needs long hours of sunshine, cool nights with clear skies. Additionally, the flat, plain and level plateau is an advantage for sugarcane cultivation. Because it facilitates irrigation and transportation of cane to the sugar mills.
Sugarcane cultivation requires heavy manures and fertilizers because it exhausts the fertility of soils quickly and extensively. Additionally, it is a long duration crop and requires 10 to 15 and even 18 months to mature. Sugarcane is labor intensive crop and needs cheap labor. Additionally, large-scale plantation demands agricultural equipment and machinery. Therefore, you have to prepare for that.
Best Varieties For Sugarcane Cultivation
Generally, the best variety depends on the location. More or less every country has the developed and improved varieties for that particular location. Here we have compiled a list of the commercial variety of sugarcane that you can consider in India.
Uttar Pradesh: CoS-687, CoS-87216, CoPlant-84211, CoS-767, CoS-802, CoS7918, CoS-8315, CoS-8432
Bihar: Bo-90, Bo-99, C0S-87268, Bo-104, CoS-767, Bo-109, Bo-106, Bo-128
Assam: Co-1008, Co BLN-9102,Co BLN-9130, Co-6907, Co-8315, Co-1132, Cajor-1&2
Haryana: CoJ-58, CoJ-83, Co -7717, CoJ-64, CoS-8436, CoS-767, CoLK-8001, Co-975
Gujarat: Co-671, Co-85004, CoC-86008, Co-86032, Co-8021, CoLK-8001
Maharashtra: CoC-671, Co-86032, Co-8014, Co-85004
Karnataka: CoC-671, Co-91002, Co-86032, Co-8011, Co-87044
Andhra Pradesh: CoC-85038, CoA07706, CoV-92103, CoA-8801, CoA-89082, Co-8504
Tamil Nadu: CoC-95071, CoC-671, CoJ-86141, Co-86032, Co-86249, CoC-93076
Agro Climatic Condition For Sugarcane Cultivation
Sugarcane is a tropical crop. Therefore, it requires warm and humid climate for growth while cool, sunny and dry climate for ripening. The temperature requirement is 20°C to 26°C. However, germination does not take place when the temperature goes below 7°C.
Both the extremes of temperature is harmful. In addition, severe cold arrests the growth, while an attack of stem borer increases in hot weather. It requires more than 1,375 mm annual rainfall when grown as the rainfed crop. Generally, rainfall deficiency produces a fibrous cane, whereas too heavy rainfall reduces sugar content.
Suitable Soil For Sugarcane Cultivation
Actually, you can grow sugarcane on a wide range of soils. In fact, sugarcane can tolerate any kind of soil that can retain moisture. But deep rich loamy soils are ideal for its growth.
However, it grows best on well-drained, fertile medium to heavy soils. Additionally, soils rich in organic matter and leveled are most suitable. It is heavy feeder crop so, should not be grown on light soils.
Commercial Sugarcane Cultivation – Basic Steps
Sugarcane stands in the field for more than one year. Therefore, you must prepare the land with two deep plowing. Leave expose the land to the sun for one to two months. Additionally, crush the clods with clod crusher or Norwegian harrow. Add 35-50 tons FYM/ha. to the soil. Apply second crosswise plowing with the wooden plow. Additionally, level the land with the help of the end of the set and prepare the seed bed.
You can you 4 different types of method for sugarcane planting. These are Ridge and furrow method, Flatbed method, Rayungan method, and Trench or Jawa method.
Ridge and Furrow Method: This is the most common method of sugarcane planting. In this method, the ridges and furrows are opened with the help of ridge by keeping 120 cm distance between furrows in heavy soil and 105 cm distance in light to medium soil.
Wet Method: This method is followed in light to medium soil. You have to apply irrigation to the field before planting. Here you can plant the sets by pressing 2.5 to 5 cm deep in furrows with feet or hand. Place the sets end to end by facing buds on sides.
Dry Method: This method is followed in the heavy soil to avoid the pressing as sets deep into the soil. You can place the sets in the furrow end to end by facing eye buds on sides and cover by giving a layer of soil. After completion of planting, give irrigation to the field.
Flat Bed Method: Plough, harrow and level the land and prepare the flat beds. Lay down the cane in the flat beds end to end in rows.
Rayungan Method: In such cases, you can’t plant directly in the main field. After six weeks, you can transplant the sprouted sets in the main field when the danger of flooding is over.
Trench or Jawa Method: Here, you have to create trenches about 90 to 120 cm. apart and 22 to 30 cm. deep. Loosen the soil at the bottom and mix with manures. Then, you can plant the sets in the middle of the trenches and cover with soil.
Sugarcane is a long durational and heavy feeder crop. Therefore, it requires very high manure application. It is advisable to test the soil before planting. Manure the crop by 25th and 75th days after harvest of the previous crop. Additionally, apply the entire quantity of phosphorus, half of nitrogen and potash as the first dose and the remaining as the second dose.
Optimum supply of water according to the stage of growth, season and soil type is essential in sugarcane. However, heavy irrigation results in deterioration of soil structure, salt accumulation, water logging condition and wastage of water. On the other hand, shortage of water results in stunted growth, pith formation in cane and low yield. However, the total water requirement varies according to the type of crop. During the rainy season, there is no requirement of irrigation.
First of all, give two to five hand weedings at 20 days interval depending upon the intensity of weeds in the case of the short furrow and serpentine furrow method. You can apply one pre-emergence spraying of weedicides like Atrazine or 2, 4-D @ 5 kg./ha. in 1025 liters of water to kill broad-leaved weeds.
You must protect the plant from pests and diseases. Some of the most potential pests are top shoot borer, stem borer, pyrilla, mealy bugs, grasshopper, termites, wooly aphids, field rats and white fly. It is advisable to adopt the right method for plant protection.
Additionally, you have to protect the plant from different diseases. Some of the most potential diseases are whip smut, red – rot, rust, twisted top, grassy shoot, and mosaic.
Harvesting & Yield
You must harvest the sugarcane crop at the right stage of maturity. Because of both early and delayed harvesting results in loss of quality and quantity of the final product. Cut the sugarcane at ground level by cane cutting knife. Also, you can use machines for large-scale harvesting. You can expect an average yield of 100 tons/ha from commercial sugarcane cultivation.