Sugarcane is propagated commercially
by asexual method, which involves the planting of immature portions
of the cane stalks. The planting material is known as canepoint,
seedpiece, seed or sett. The quality of prepared seed for planting
influences the germination, growth and germination of the plant.
Seedpieces must be taken from vigorous cane plants free from
pests and diseases. It may be sourced out from cutbacks, usually
taken from a nursery; top points taken from the young tops of
the matured canes; from micro-propagated plantlets developed
through tissue culture or whole stalks from cane plants about
5-6 months and preferably erect.
Sugarcane is widely adapted
to a wide range of tropical aqnd semi-tropical climate, soils
and cultural conditions. It grows well in the Philippines or
in the subtropics when temperatures are modified by warm bodies
of water. Survival is possible for all temperature above freezing
, but growth ceases anytime the minimum temperature is below
Optimum temperature for germination
of stem cuttings ranges from 32 to 38 C. Growth is optimum when
the mean daily temperature is anywhere between 22 C and 35 C.
The minimum temperature for active growth is about 20 C. For
ripening, relatively lower temperature, in the range of 10 to
20 C are desirable since these have noticeable influence on the
reduction of growth rate. The ideal climate for sugarcane consists
of 4-5 months of a temperature range of 30-35 C for a one-year
crop followed by a six to eight weeks of cooler temperatures
to enhance the maturation and sucrose accumulation prior harvest.
There are two important considerations
to remember in preparing the land for sugarcane production. First,
sugarcane is a fairly deep-rooted plant and second, the germination
of the seedpieces is favored by a well prepared land therefore,
when preparing the land, the aim should be to attain a soil environment
that will favor rapid germination of the cane points as well
as deep root penetration. Other good reasons why land should
be prepared thoroughly are;
1). To produce soil of good
2). To mix the residues of the previous crop with the land;
3). To control the growth of weeds;
4). To make the growth of succeeding ratoon crop easier;
5). To increase the aeration and water holding capacity of the
It is also important at this
stage, to collect soil samples for laboratory analysis to have
a basis for determining the kind and amount of fertilizers to
use during that particular cropping season.
When to prepare the field
The best time to prepare the
field is during dry season when it has just the right amount
of moisture. To know if the field is ready for plowing, get a
handful soil, hold it firmly then drop it to the ground. If the
soil crumbles to pieces when it strikes the ground, then the
soil is ready. This operation is usually undertaken starting
from November until May, when harvesting has just finished and
plenty of planting materials are available in the field.
Practices in Land Preparation
Plowing and harrowing are two
important field operations employed in preparing the land for
sugarcane planting. These are normally done deep enough with
the use of a moldboard plow or disc plow pulled by a tractor
to break the hard soil stratum to improve soil aeration and water
For bigger farms with facilities (35-38 HP tractor), deep plowing
and harrowing at 18-24 inches can easily be done on slightly
clay to clay soil.
Small farmers on the other hand, make use of native plows and
carabao in preparing the land. On new land however, it is advised
to use machinery for economical reason and convenience.
There are several factors
to consider in preparing the land as follows;
1. Depth of plowing
Depth of plowing differs depending
upon the depth of soil surface and structure. For deeper surface
soil, plowing must be done deep enough, about 45 to 90 cm depth
to enable the roots to penetrate deeply for better absorption
of available food and water in the soil particularly during the
dry months. Also, deep-rooted system sugarcane crop is more resistant
to withstand drought and strong wind compared to shallow-rooted.
For shallow surface soil and
where there is a hard pan layer underneath, depth of plowing
must be from 15 to 20 cm or only up to where the hard pan layer
is located. Deep plowing on this type of soil is being discouraged
because the infertile and difficult to pulverized soil is turned
on top hence, it may hinder and stunt the growth of sugarcane
Sub-soiling is a process by
which the hard pan layer or compacted layer of the soil is broken
without turning over the infertile subsoil to the top. This process
is usually done with the use of a tractor drawn sub-soiler to
a depth of at least 50 to 175 cm. Depending upon the soil type
and degree of compaction, one or two passing is necessary with
the last passing criss-crossing the first and if possible, slightly
overlapping each other to allow easier and deeper root penetration.
The best time to carry out this activity is when the soil is
relatively dry so that the hard pan will shatter or crack. As
it loosens the hard pan layer of the soil, it offers the following
advantages; a) facilitates downward movement of water; b) enhance
good drainage; and, c) induce deep penetration of the roots.
3. Number of times to plow and
The number of times to plow
and harrow depends on soil type. Heavy soils like clay and clay
loam require more plowing and harrowing than light soils of sandy
loam type. It must be remembered that good land preparation does
not always mean thorough pulverization of the soil. Therefore,
harrowing which normally follows after plowing should be stopped
as soon as favorable soil tilth is achieved.
For delayed planting, it is
necessary that a disk or tooth harrow should pass across the
field to break the capillary movement of soil water and thereby
preserving soil moisture.
Many farmers do not pay particular
attention in choosing the right direction in plowing, harrowing
and in laying out the furrows for planting. Perhaps they are
not aware that doing said operations in the correct direction
will reduce cost of farm operation and may increase crop yield.
This happens because it minimizes problems on soil erosion and
loss of fertilizer and irrigation water due to surface water
The choice of direction differs
according to slopes and shapes of the field. For squares and
nearly level field, the decision is not as criticial as in the
rectangular and rolling fields. A rectangular field should be
plowed and harrowed in a direction that will allow greater efficiency
and convenience while in the rolling fields, it should follow
the general contour of the land to prevent serious soil erosion.
5. Cost of preparing the land
Cost of preparing the land varies
depending on the size, kind of farm (whether new or old), practice
followed and implements used.
The UP College of Agriculture
at Los Banos conducted a related study to determine the time
required to plow a hectare of land using different kind of instrument
The cost of plowing the field
is done by multiplying the hours required to plow a hectare with
the kind of plow used by the minimum wages in the locality. Harrowing,
on the other hand requires 50 to 75% of the time required to
plow the same field depending upon the kind of harrow one is
Planting practices affect to
considerable degree the germination of the seed pieces and subsequent
growth of the plant. Good planting practices do not only mean
rapid germination but also fast growth of the crops. It is therefore
important to know when and how to plant good seed pieces.
Planting in sugarcane farming
is consist of the following operations;
a. Selection of seedpieces
In selecting the seedpieces
or cane point, the following characteristics of a good planting
material must be considered be it taken from the nursery or plantation;
" Should contain three
well-developed and viable buds or eyes and should not include
the central growing point or "ubod".
" Must come from a healthy
plants and disease and pest free plantation or nursery.
" Must be about 30 cm long
and prepared in such a way that there is about three to five
cm clearance from the nodes at both ends.
" If taken from the nursery,
must not more than six months of age and the cane points obtained
from the top half must be separated from the bottom half of the
stalk and plant them separately in the field to obtain uniform
Before planting be sure to remove
the leaf sheath covering the buds of the selected cane points
to prevent delay of shoot emergence and horizontal growth of
buds before it can fully emerge to the top. Also, cane points
must be planted immediately after cutting because their germination
capacity reduces gradually up to five days and rapidly thereafter.
b. Soaking of the seed pieces
Soaking of cane points in water
is another common practice in sugarcane farming. Usually, the
cane points are soaked in running water for about 48 hours to
hasten germination. Generally, this is carried out when there
is no enough moisture in the soil that could induce germination
of the cane points after planting.
Some planters prefer to soak
the cane points in fungicide solution to protect them from fungal
infection. The most common practice is to dip the cane points
in Mercuric Chloride solution for about a minute. This is normally
prepared by dissolving about 125 grams of 6% Agallol per 100
liters of water.
c. Incubation of the seed pieces
After soaking, the seed pieces
are incubated for about 2 days by placing them under the shade
and covering with moist rice straw or any similar materials.
Incubation must be done with proper precautionary measures to
ensure higher number of developed stalks. Prolonged incubation
may cause the buds to over swell thus it would require careful
handling during planting time so as not to destroy the swelled
d. Making the furrows
Furrows should be made only
when there are already available cane points for planting to
take advantage of the available soil moisture. Making the furrows
several days ahead of planting time can result to drying up of
soil and planting with this soil condition will result to delayed
and poor germination.
e. Distribution and laying out
of the seed pieces
Distribution of prepared sugarcane
seedpieces must be done immediately after making the furrows
to take advantage of the available soil moisture.
Planting should be done immediately
after making the furrows for higher percentage germination. Planting
position varies depending on the season. During dry season, cane
points must be laid flat in the furrow with the eyes on both
sides and covered with two inches pulverized soil. Planting the
cane points this manner enables them to take advantage of the
soil moisture and prevent from rapid drying.
During wet season or when soil is extremely wet, cane points
are planted at an angle position about 45 degrees, eyes on their
sides also and allow the cane point to protrude 3-5 cm. from
the surface of the soil. Pointing the cane points this way is
necessary to ensure uniform germination and development of strong
tillers. In addition, this will also prevent the buds from injury
by the movement of machinery or any heavy object on top.
Planting materials requirement
to plant a hectare plantation varies depending on the season.
During wet season planting and early planting when conditions
are favorable, rate of planting is usually 30,000 cane points
per hectare or 3 "lacsas". Roughly, this amounts to
planting three cane points for every linear meter of the furrow
with one meter distance between furrows.
However, when planting towards
the dry season, the rate may be increased up to 45,000 cane points
per hectare to give allowance to seed pieces that may not germinate.
Under favorable condition, germination will take place 5 to 10
days after planting.
Replanting of vacant hills must
be done immediately and within 30 days after planting. Delayed
replanting results to non-uniform crop stand and uneven crop
Cultivation in sugarcane farming
is loosening of the soil to provide aeration thereby increasing
the supply of oxygen needed by the plant roots and by the soil
organisms thus, ultimately enhances microbial activity in the
decomposition of organic matter.
Cultivation practices employed
in the farm with the use of animal-drawn or tractor-cultivators
are ridge busting and alternate off barring and hilling-up.
The first operation is shallow
breaking of the ridge called ridge busting. It is usually done
3-4 weeks after planting by passing the cultivators between furrows
to bring part of the soil to the furrows. It must coincide with
the first fertilizer application so that this, at the same time
cover the fertilizer applied and the exposed portion of the seed
pieces. This is followed by the first off barring operation three
weeks later or 7 weeks after planting then by the first hilling-up
and second off-barring when the plant is about two months or
3 months old, respectively.
The second hilling-up is the
last cultivation operation, hence, the closing operation. It
is done to cover the second dose of applied fertilizer and to
suppress late tillering and formation of floating stool. Floating
stools are undesirable growth that dries and dies easily during
hot months thus results to low tonnage so must be suppressed
to minimize hills in the succeeding ratoon crop and increase
The time of last hilling-up
significantly influence sugarcane yield. Phil 56226 and Phil
7544 produced high sugar yield when last hilling-up was done
4-5 months after planting while Phil 6607 was favored by the
early plowing field operation. Leaf canopy of Phil 6607 closes
in two and half months while Phil 56226 and Phil 7544 closed
at 3-4 months after planting. (Dosado, V. G. and Miayo, 1993;
Samiano, 1986). This suggests that time of last hilling-up demands
upon the time when a variety canopy closed.
Weeds are considered major constraints
to higher yields in sugarcane production because it can reduce
potential sugar yield by 25 to 93% as well as a loss of significant
quantities of nutrients. Thus, it is important to keep the field
clean during the first 3-4 months of cane or active tillering
stage. Presence of weeds at this period will greatly affect tiller
growth, number and development of millable stalks and will compete
with sugarcane for sunlight and nutrients.
Experiments conducted at the
La Granja Experiment Station, SRA showed improvement in yield
due to significant weed control, ranging from 17 to 195% which
means that two-thirds of the crop may be lost when weeds are
not controlled (Aurelio and Ascalon, 1976). Weeds act as alternate
hosts for pests and diseases and can contribute to an increase
in the cost of sugarcane production.
Methods of Weed Control
Following are the recommended
methods of controlling weeds to minimize yield losses in sugarcane
Cultural method is controlling
weeds with the use of any of the following cultural practices;
a) Use of fast-growing varieties.
It is recommended to use sugarcane varieties that are high tillering
and fast growing to shorten the critical period of competition.
These varieties compete better with weeds than the slow-growing
types. Phil 56-226, a slow growing variety takes four months
to close its leaf canopy, while Phil 6607, a fast starter and
fast grower, covers the inter-rows three months after planting
(De la Cruz, 1983)
b) Use of trash mulch. Every
other row should be mulched with trashes during ratooning to
reduce weed control operations by 50%. Trashes are confined along
the alternate inter-rows to allow weeding and cultivation in
the inter-rows without trashes. Trash mulching suppresses weed
growth, conserves, moisture, and reduces surface run-off and
soil erosion during heavy rains.
c) Use of intercrop. Leguminous
crops are planted to take advantage of available space in-between
rows during the early growth period. This will suppress weed
growth and generate additional income. Intercropping with leguminous
crops reduces hand weeding cost by 28% and is a cheaper and easier
way of controlling weeds in sugarcane fields (Mercado et al.,
d) Maintenance of complete stand.
Seedpiece selection is necessary to attain high germination percentage.
Missing hills will promote weed growth and can be remedied by
2. Mechanical and manual
Mechanical weed control is carried
out to some extent through cultivation operations during hilling-up
and off barring in the early part of growing canes, usually 3-4
weeks after planting with the use of either animal drawn plow
or tractor drawn cultivator. As this control only weeds growing
in between rows, if still needed, manual weeding must be done
within the row by pulling the weeds by hand or with the use of
3. Chemical weed control
Chemical weed control is controlling
of weed with the use of herbicides. This method offers many advantages
a) Greatly helps offset the
growing scarcity and increasing cost of farm labor in many sugarcane
b) Provides sure control and longer residual effect
c) Sometime economical
The rate of acceptance however,
is low because they are expensive and only, large-scale plantations
can afford. Besides, herbicides are difficult to apply. It has
to be applied at a precise amount and rate, thus skilled applicator
are needed for effective application. This also demands careful
application so as not to affect plants in adjacent farms.
4. Combination of manual and
chemical weed control
Wise combination of this method
is often the best and most economical way to control weeds. A
study conducted in 1985 by delos Santos showed that the combination
of Diuron followed by 2, 4-D and hand weeding effectively controlled
weeds by 83.5%. Also, Ametryn, followed by 2,4-D and hand weeding
gave 65.5% result.
Several factors affect the use
of herbicides as weed control as cited by Obien and Baltazar
(1979) as follows;
a) Soil type and land preparation.
Best results are obtained when the soil has been worked to a
fine tilth because such operation which aerates the top soil
layer will favor the germination of weeds seeds and eventually
increase herbicide activity.
b) Rainfall/Weather condition. Herbicide use is also chosen in
relation to weather conditions prevailing or expected during
the season when the chemical is applied. Chemical 2,4-D can be
applied during dry periods of the year while herbicides of low
solubility such as Diuron and Ametryne would be justified during
rainy season because of its water residual effect.
e) Soil microorganisms
f) Kind of weeds - The kind of weeds also determines the herbicide
treatment. Annuals are controlled better with pre-emergence treatments
using residual herbicides such as the substituted ureas and trizine,
rather than the soluble 2,4-D and MCPA. Perennial weeds are best
controlled with herbicides at different stages of growth. Generally,
plants at 2 to 3 leaf stage is very susceptible to leaf absorbed
and contact herbicides.
g) Varietal response
h) Crop tolerance
Liming is necessary to correct
the moderately and strongly acidic soils (pH 4-6) of most of
the sugarcane plantations in the country. However, this is not
commonly practice by planters.
Strongly acidic soils when not
corrected cause toxicity to plants because iron, aluminum and
manganese become readily available. It also hampers the efficiency
of applied N, P and K fertilizers and affects the growth of beneficial
soil microorganisms thus affects the growth and yields of sugarcane.
Lime requirement as determined
by lime titration method in a laboratory varies depending on
soil type. Clayey soils have higher lime requirement than sandy
soils because of the buffering capacity of clayey soils. A typical
clay loam soils need about 3 t/ha of agricultural lime to correct
soil reaction from pH 5 to 6.2, while sandy loam soils need about
2 t/ha of agricultural lime at similar range of soil pH.
Following is the recommended
lime requirement of sugarcane at varying soil pH and textural
classes expressed in ton per hectare.
Method and frequency of lime
For higher efficacy of lime,
it is recommended to use only quality agricultural lime with
at least 95% neutralizing value and fine enough to pass through
a 20-mesh sieve.
Application should be done at
least one month before planting to allow sufficient time for
the lime to react with the soil. It is better applied by manual
spreading or through a mechanical lime spreader. It should be
plowed-under or disked to incorporate thoroughly with the soil
so lime will immediately react and correct soil acidity effectively.
In case of delayed arrival of
lime, it should be spread along the furrows after planting or
on the inter-row spaces after stubble shaving of ratoons. Precautionary
measures should be observed to avoid the lime from getting in
contact with fertilizers, as this will cause unfavorable chemical
reactions such as volatilization of N from urea and phosphate
The effectiveness of lime may
last for three to five years, depending on soil texture, rainfall,
application rate and kind of material applied. Frequent light
applications in sandy soils is recommended while for clayey soils,
it must be less often. Whether reliming is necessary, soil testing
must be done to determine its necessity.
As sugarcane is a long-term
crop that has to be grown continuously in the same area for a
minimum of 2-3 cropping years, the fertility level of the soil
is usually depleted and somehow the pH balance is destroyed.
For the sugarcane to be productive, supplementation of any organic
or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin is necessary
to improve the soil fertility level required by the crop. Right
kind, amount and time of application is important for higher
efficiency and effectiveness of fertilizer materials applied.
The general principles on the amount and kind of fertilizer to
use have to be guided by economic principles in the context of
soil fertility, climate, plant uptake and adaptable technology
available. Following are the basic guide on fertilization;
1. Know the nutrients requirements
of sugarcane - The optimum level of fertility being recommended
by SRA soil testing laboratories is 200-600-400 kg/ha of N, P2O5
and K2O, respectively. This was based from fertilizer experiments
conducted in the different sugarcane growing areas, which were
subjected to economic analysis.
2. Know the amount of fertilizers
to apply - Fertilizer rate is usually expressed in kilograms
nitrogen (N), phosphoric acid (P2O5) and water-soluble potassium
(K2O) per hectare. Farmers should be able to compute and calibrate
the fertilizer need of his sugarcane plantation.
3. Choose the right kind of
fertilizers to apply - Choice should be based upon; a) the nutrient
contents of fertilizer materials, b) nutrients needs of the soil,
and; c) comparative costs.
4. Proper placement and timing
of application - Maximum efficiency of the applied fertilizers
can be attained when placed in the root zone with adequate soil
Method of Fertilizer Application
Fertilizers can be applied in
any of the following manner depending on the existing condition
in the field and the kind of fertilizer to use;
Broadcasting is employed when
heavy application of ground rock phosphate, lime, dolomite or
organic fertilizer is applied. When the cane rows are closely
spaced and the root system has permeated the whole volume of
soil, nitrogen and potassium fertilizers can be broadcasted in
the inter row space, provided, there is enough moisture in the
2. Furrow or basal application
The fertilizer is applied in
the furrows at planting time. The applied fertilizer shall be
covered with a thin layer of soil before planting the cane points
to avoid injury to the buds. Direct contact of chemical fertilizers
on cane points has direct effect on the percentage germination
of the seed pieces as reflected in the following;
3. Side-band application
The fertilizer is applied in
band to one or both sides of the seed piece or cane row. A mechanical
fertilizer applicator can effectively apply the required fertilizers
through this method after proper calibration to ensure uniform
distribution. If done by hand, a shallow cut is first made by
a plow along the cane rows before the fertilizer is applied in
band manually and then covered by soil to avoid loss of nitrogen
due to volatilization.
4. Side or Top dress application
Fertilizers are applied into
or between sugarcane rows either by hand or with a wooden or
steel drill. This must be followed immediately by simultaneous
plow cultivation to cover the applied fertilizer with soil. This
method is commonly practiced in the second dose of nitrogen and
5. Foliar spraying
This method is used extensively
in the correction of trace elements. The fertilizer materials
is dissolved in water at certain concentration and applied by
spraying to cane plants. Supplemental N and K can be applied
by spraying solutions of urea and muriate of potash on the canes.
Studies showed the following effect on sugarcane yields, which
varies depending on the time of application;
Equal distribution of the applied
fertilizer is necessary to ensure uniform growth of the cane
plant. Mechanical fertilizer applicator should be properly calibrated
prior to using the implement. Manual applied by hand can be calculated
1) Calculate the quantity of
fertilizer per hill. Assuming that there are 30,000 cane plants
per hectare to be fertilized with 215.02 kg. Urea, 228.26 kg
18-46 and 166.67 kg muriate of potash, the amount of the fertilizer
mixture is equivalent to 609.95 kg/30,000 plants or 20.33 gram
2) Weigh 20.33 g of the fertilizer
mixture and place in a scoop or cup. Mark the level with pen
or fill-up the extra space with melted paraffin.
Partitional Aspect and Timing
Fertilizer should be applied
at different stages of growth of the cane plant, which requires
most the nutrients to obtain maximum economic returns. Soil texture
and available moisture determine whether nitrogen and potassium
fertilizer should be applied once or in split dosage. Ordinarily,
there is no need of splitting phosphorous because of its well-known
laziness in the soil. Application of N and K is split whenever
there is likelihood of losses and dissipation due to leaching
in light textured soils. When much rainfall is expected, the
first dose of N and K along with the full amount of P is better
applied after the first weeding. During the dry season or when
little rain is expected, the first dose of the required NPK fertilizers
may be applied at planting ratoon crop. The last dose of N and
K is best applied after the last weeding, before final hilling-up
or closing of the field. It should not be applied later than
this to avoid unfavorable effect on juice quality.
Harvesting is one of the critical
operations is sugarcane farming. Untimely harvesting and improper
practices result in the loss of tonnage and sucrose content not
to mention the time, capital and efforts in cultural management.
Loss of damage range from 6.4 t/ha to 17.5 t/ha (Quiloy, 1982)
Sugar loss could be about 12-33 kg/ha.
Harvesting includes cutting,
loading and transport of the canes. The first essential is to
ensure that the cane is ripe. Determination of ripeness is a
combination of experience, visual observation, knowledge of the
recent history of the field and a testing of the canes. Weather
and soil conditions should enter the planters' decision. Pre-harvest
sampling and juice analysis will indicate whether or not a cane
is ready for harvest. There are two ways of determining maturity
of the canes as follows;
1. Brix Reading by Refractometer
A cane is said to be matured
and ready for harvest when the sugar content or juice quality
of the upper third portion of the stalk is about the same as
or close to that of the lower portion of the stalk. Immature
canes will give a much higher brix reading from the base than
at the upper portion whereas the over-matured canes have relatively
higher reading in the upper than in the lower portion.
2. Visual Observation
A cane field ready for harvest
exhibits the following characteristics;
a) Yellowing of the leaves in the whole field is uniform
b) The stalks become yellowish
c) Internodes at the upper portion of the stalk shorten
There are many factors that
influence cane maturity as follows;
1. Age of the crop. Chronological
age of the plant may not be reliable guide alone in determining
cane maturity. Other factors may have a more direct bearing on
the real maturity of the crop such as soils and weather condition
2. Cane varieties. Different
varieties differ in their ability to mature at different stages.
The optimum age to harvest a certain cane will depend on whether
the canes are early maturing (Phil 56226, 6723 at 10-12 months),
medium maturing (Phil 58226, 6123, 6553, 6607, 7495 at 12 months)
and late maturing (Phil 7083 and 6723 at 14 months).
In a study conducted at the
Luzon Experiment Station by S. Samiano, the optimum ages to harvest
specific cane varieties are the following;
3. Fertilization practices.
There are varieties that are sensitive to nitrogen fertilization
in relation to maturity. In these varieties, maturity is delayed
when excessive nitrogen is applied or when nitrogen is applied
4. Weather conditions preceding
the harvest period. There is an adverse effect of unfavorable
weather conditions on sugarcane plant during harvest season.
When rainfall occurs during the ripening periods, it is best
that all of the nitrogen has been used up. Any unused nitrogen
will stimulate vegetative growth and deterioration of cane sugar
results. The stored sucrose is inverted to reducing sugars and
the latter is used as energy for continued vegetative growth.
Even when there is not much nitrogen present at the time of harvest,
it would be better to delay the cutting of canes.
The effects of adverse weather
conditions during harvesting season can be counteracted by the
application of chemical ripeners. The application of chemical
ripener 6-8 weeks before harvest during rainy season increases
sugar quality. An average increase in sugar quality of about
20% for Polaris (5kg a.i./ha) was obtained in a study made in
Negros Occidental. Any delay in harvesting of the treated canes,
however, may lower the sugar content.
Some of the improved harvesting
techniques in sugarcane farming include the following:
1. Cutting. Canes should be
cut close to the base. Cutting as close as possible to the base/ground
level would eliminate waste in terms of sugar left in the field.
Studies made by technologies have shown that a 10-12cm length
of canes left in the field uncut may mean a loss of about 5 piculs
sugar per hectare. O. Quiloy (1985) showed that on a hectare
basis, about 3-5 tons sugarcane is left in the field when the
canes are cut too high above the ground.
Cutting the cane stalks close
to the ground will also reduce the cost of stubble shaving. If
harvesting is supervised closely, stubble shaving may even be
avoided entirely. In ratooning, the latter practice has a very
grave importance. The cost of shaving-off stumps after harvest
may be small but the decrease in yield due to the delayed stubble
shaving may be substantial. Studies conducted by VICMICO-SRD
indicated a 16-44% decrease in yield when stubble shaving was
delayed from 6-5 to 20 days after burning the trashes (Fernandez,
et al. 1964).
2. Topping. The usual practice
before cutting of the canes is to top or cut the upper portion
of the stalk for planting materials. In topping, only the youngest
top portion of the stalk should be cut off.
3. Hauling. In hauling canes,
include only the millable stalks. Water shoots, bull shoots,
very young stalks, dead stalks, etc. should not be included.
They should be excluded for the following reasons; a) They contain
no sugar; b) They affect milling operations; and c) They provide
unnecessary hauling expenses.
4. Milling. Canes should be
milled as soon as possible after harvesting or within 48 hours
after cutting. Any delay would mean a corresponding percentage
loss of sugar.
Some of the practices to avoid
in harvesting include the following;
1. Delayed milling
Cut canes should be hauled immediately
to the factory. Sugar content decreases when milling is delayed
from the time of cutting due to sucrose deterioration and evaporation.
Canes delivered to the mill
2-5 days from cutting showed a 10% decrease in yields compared
with that of the fresh canes milled immediately after harvest
Rosenfield's study showed that fresh canes cut and left lying
in the fields for 8 days have lost weight through evaporation
by as much as 11%.
2. Burning of canes before harvest
Except in unavoidable circumstances,
canes should not be burned. The death of the cells of the stalks
as a result of burning causes the inversion of the sucrose content
of the canes into reducing sugars (a sugar form which cannot
be crystallized). In cases where burning is unavoidable, burnt
canes should be harvested immediately and milled within the shortest
time possible. Burnt canes left uncut or standing in the fields
will continue to absorb water from the soils. This water cannot
be lost through evaporation since the leaves have already been
Calma (1944) observed that 5 days after the canes were burned,
there was a marked decline in purity of the juice and the loss
in weight ranged from 3.5% to as high as 20.5%.
Under Canlubang conditions both burnt chopped canes and green
chopped canes showed deterioration 48 hours after harvest. On
burnt canes, the rendement showed significant decrease on the
6th day after harvest. The reducing sugar increased significantly
on the second day but did not go beyond the standard 1.28% until
the 6th day (Hernia and Gregorio, 1984)
Corpuz, et al and Lezarde (1993) stated that canes delivered
more than 48 hours after burning tend to contain much non-sugar
due to deterioration, making clarification and crystallization
3. Delayed harvesting after
Topping is the removal of the
terminal portion of the stalks of the standing canes to secure
seed pieces for planting. A long interval between topping and
harvesting resulted in sugar losses.
The following data shows the
reduction in purity and sugar yields for every day delay in cutting;
In another study conducted by
Mercado et al (1984), the following data showed the effect of
varying harvesting practices and delays in milling on juice quality.
4. Milling of trashy canes
Another bad practice of sugarcane
planters to be avoided is delivering of trashy canes to the mills.
Trash is defined as extraneous
materials which form part of the cane delivery consisting of
leaves, cane tops, dead, stale and diseased stalks, water sprouts,
roots, weeds, soils, etc. These materials contain no sugar. When
mixed with a cane stalks during milling, they sponge-up a lot
of the cane juice. These will later be thrown out as bagasse
thus, it reduce sugar recovery.
The juice from the cane tops
contains starch, ash, soluble polysaccharides and reducing sugars.
Milling of canes with tops decreases the recoverable sugar per
ton cane by the amount of 15.% to 17.2% in relation to the canes
without tops. The higher tonnage compensates for this but there
is still a decrease by 0.05% to 0.1% in sugar yields.
On the other hand, stale canes
and diseased stalks contribute to juice deterioration and poor
Silica content of the leaves
increases wear and tear of the mills and therefore lengthen the
Trash occupies space in transport vehicle thus therefore increased
Compiled results of former PHILSUGIN
studies showed the increasing loss in piculs sugar with the increasing
percent trash in cane as follows;
A study made by Corpuz and Lezarde (1993) showed that in Don
Pedro, the recoverable sugar from trash could have amounted to;
1. In 1990-91, a 2.26% trash
meant a loss of 176,458.51 LKG sugar
2. In 1991-92, a 1.96% trash meant a loss of 17,584.28 LKG sugar
If the planters observed a clean
cane delivery, these could have been added revenues to both the
planters and the millers.