Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Sugarcane

Posted by romeethredge on November 17, 2012

Sugarcane is ready at Harry Hutchin’s place. Here he is, this week with some sweet cane. He will likely have it made into syrup. I think Cane syrup is the best thing on a biscuit or waffle. The University of Florida has a good publication on home garden sugarcane at this link. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/sc052

Sugarcane is a tropical perennial grass, belonging to the genus Saccharum. Although sugarcane thrives in humid temperatures, between 70 and 95°F, sugarcane can be grown in many areas of the southern United States

Sugarcane is vegetatively propagated by means of “seed-cane,” a section of a mature cane stalk with one or more buds (or “bud-eyes”). Following harvest, sugarcane re-sprouts from underground buds located on basal (bottom or lower) portions of old stalks. This process is called ”ratooning”. Depending on variety and growing conditions, a stalk weighing 2 – 4 pounds with 11 – 12 percent sugar will be produced in about 12 – 14 months from an original planting or in 11 – 12 months from a ratoon re-growth.

If soil temperatures are cold, initial shoots from the ratoon may not sprout above ground before March. In these colder growing environments, ratoon crops will likely have shorter growing seasons, 8 – 9 months.

Sugarcane varieties can be placed into one of three categories according to their physical and chemical characteristics – chewing canes, crystal canes or syrup canes.

Chewing canes are generally softer and contain fibers that stick together when chewed, making it easier to spit out the pulp once the sugary juice has been consumed. Many chewing canes are also used for syrup production.

Crystal canes (typically commercial varieties) must contain a high percentage of sucrose since this is the sugar molecule that easily forms into crystals when concentrated during a heating and evaporation process.

Syrup canes contain less sucrose than crystal canes, but have additional kinds of sugar molecules that are not as readily crystallized, so when the juice is concentrated into syrup, there is a lower likelihood of crystallization as compared with a crystal or commercial cane.

“Backyard sugarcane” for hobby production is grown on farms ranging from a fraction of an acre to 1 or 2 acres and usually consists of either chewing varieties or syrup varieties. Most sugarcane for syrup production is grown in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and North Florida, a region that is known as the “Sugarcane Syrup Belt”.

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