Sugarcane (Saccharum) or popularly known as "Tubo" here in the Philippines, refers to any of tall perennial grasses of the family Gramineae ( grass family). Native to warm temperate to tropical regions of Asia, they have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar, and measure two to six meters tall. All sugar cane species interbreed, and the major commercial cultivars are complex hybrids.
Sugarcane is the major source of sugar around the world. It supplies 62% of the world sugar requirements while the remaining 38% are produced as local and specialized products from the sap of the maple tree, sorghum and from date and palm trees. (Source: Department of Agriculture Bicol Region, Date accessed 20 March 2014)
- Sugarcane fiber residue (bagas)
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Plow clay soil two to three times during land preparation while sandy to loam soil can be plowed once to a depth of not more than 12 inches. Sub-soiling may be done as an option not more than 20 inches deep. Harrowing should be done after each plowing in a crisscross direction.
For conventional planting, the distance of seedlings should be 1m and 1.3 to 1.5m for mechanized planting with a depth of not more than 12 inches. This should be done before planting. (SRA-LAREC).
Planting and Replanting
Choose a variety that is suitable to the season and location where you are planting. A cutback, 6-7 months cane, is better to be used that cane tops. Choose a cutback with 2 to three joints. During the dry season, soak the canes in water for 24 hours before planting. Using chemicals during soaking is an option. Canes may also be soaked for 24 hours in running water. Incubation is done by putting the canes in sacks for 1 to 2 days under the shade. (SRA-LAREC)
Planting should be done not more than 8 inches deep. During wet season, plant the canes in a slanting position with the joints at the side. They should be covered in soil with two inches of the top showing. During dry season, canes should be placed on the soil parallel to the ground with the joints on the side and covered with 2 inches soil.
During dry season, plant 40,000 to 60,000 canes per hectare and 30,000 to 40,000 canes per hectare during wet season depending on the variety. (SRA-LAREC)
Replanting can only be done for soil with enough moisture. It is necessary if the non-growth is 15% or less. For a ratoon crop, use a 1.5 to 3 months old sprout. For a new crop, use a 1.5 months old sprout.
Cultivation and Weeding
First cultivation ("unang pagbabaak") is done 3 to 4 weeks after planting by plowing or raking. Second cultivation ("unang pagtatastas") is done 7 weeks after planting. Third cultivation ("unang pagsasampay") is done 2.5 months after planting. Fourth cultivation ("pangalawang pagtatastas") is done 3 months after planting. Fifth cultivation ("huling pagsasampay") is done after the fourth cultivation.
Weeding can be done manually, by using a chemical, or both.
Water and Nutrient Management
For clay soil, water every 21 days. For sandy to loam soil, water every 10 to 14 days by sprinkler irrigation. Excess water should be drained into manually created canals.
For dry and wet season and moderate soil moisture, mix ½ Nitrogen (N) with ½ Potassium (K) and all Phosphorus (P) for sandy to loam soil. For clay soil, mix all NPK. The mixed fertilizer is applied 1.5 months after planting or after first weeding. Apply fertilizer near the roots. During dry season, the mixed fertilizer is applied together with the seedling during planting. For the ratoon crop, apply it in the ripped seedling. Cover the fertilizer with soil.
Apply the remaining ½ N and ½ K 3 to 5 months after planting. If using purely organic fertilizer, use 3 to 5 tons. If using enriched organic fertilizer, use 1 to 2 tons. Organic fertilizer is created from composted mud press. This can reduce the needed chemical fertilizer up to one half and can improve soil condition.
Application of Quicklime
Quicklime is added to reduce the acidity of the soil, the amount needed is according to the analysis of SRA. The type of quicklime is that having 95% neutralization value, 50% particle size, and a passing mesh of 100% passing mesh 20. Quicklime is added either before trashes are burned or after the first plow. Wait one month before application of fertilizer. Quicklime may be applied by manually spreading it or with use of a mechanical spreader.
A fertilizer rate of 80-60-60 is generally recommended for a clay loam soil in both seasons. The basal fertilizer is 30-30-30 or 215 kg of 14-14-14 per hectare. This is 21-22g/linear meter of row in the 100 cm spacing and 16g/m in the 75 cm spacing. The fertilizer is drilled at the bottom of the furrow before planting.
Side Dressing (21 days after planting)
If ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) is used: The rate is 23-24g/m of row in the 100 cm spacing while 18g/m is applied in the 75 cm spacing.
If urea is used: 11-12g/m is side dressed in the 100 cm row spacing and 8-9g/m in the 75 cm spacing.
If the soil is dry, overhead irrigation should follow. Hilling up using a double-moldboard plow should is needed to cover the fertilizer and wet soil. The dry soil cover will serve as "soil mulch".
Pest and Disease Management
- Green Caterpillar
- Pink Mealy Bug
- Scale Insect
- White Grubs
- Wooly Aphids
- Downy Mildew
- Leaf Scorch
- Pineapple Disease
- Pokkah Boeng
- Ratoon Stunting Disease
- Sugarcane Smut
- Yellow Spot
Mature sugarcane (4 months old) may be harvested once the leaves and stalks have a uniform yellow color. Cut the full stalks. Do not cut the top of the stalk if the full stalks will not be cut within 3 days.
After harvesting, clear the area of trashes before the harvested stalks are brought to the central. The trashes lest should not be more than 1%. Ratooning is done depending on harvest. Trashes are burned or used in trash mulching. Stalks are cut down to the roots to have a better growth for the next crops. If this is not down, perform stubble shaving before trash mulching.
Source: Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Agricultural Research, Date accessed 26 March 2014