Sugarcane is an important industrial and cash crop in Pakistan and in many countries of the world. Average production of sugar cane in Pakistan is 450 – 500 maunds per acre which is very much low compared to the cane production by other countries. Agronomic factors like preparatory tillage, bed preparation, planting techniques and time, water availability for irrigation, application of fertilizers, management of ratoon crop, harvesting time, type of cultivars and plant protection measures significantly affect its production. These all factors also contribute to the cost of production.
It is noteworthy that cultivation of sugar cane crop is carried out for crushing purpose to obtain sugar, Panela (Jaggery, gur) and other products. By-products like alcohol used in pharmaceutical industry, ethanol used as a fuel, bagasse used for paper-making and chipboard manufacturing and press mud used as a rich source of organic matter that adds to soil fertility are derived after cane is crushed.
Pakistan occupies an important position in cane producing countries of the world. It ranks at the fifth position in cane acreage and production and almost 15th position in sugar production.
- It is grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world in a range of climates from hot dry environment near sea level to cool and moist environment at higher elevations.
- Sub-tropical, irrigated with moderate temperature frost free zone between 26° N latitude to 30°N latitude,
- Irrigated arid sub-tropical zone between 240° N latitude to 260° N latitude,
- Temperate zone of northern Punjab and K.P.K. between 32° N latitude to 34° N latitude.
Sugar cane can be grown successfully on a great variety of soils. Typical cane soils however are heavy rather than light texture, clay loams and heavy alluvial soils are amongst the best, while the top soils possess high moisture retaining capacity. The sub soil should be porous and well drained. (Khoso)
Sugarcane is a deep-rooted crop and proper land preparation plays an important role in the development of cane root system, and achieving optimal growth of the crop. Land should be prepared by deep ploughing at least after every two years. The soil should be disked. Six to eight subsequent ploughings followed by planking are enough to achieve a good pulverized seedbed free of clods and weeds.
So that no more clots are present in the soil. The soil should not be more powdery too. If soil is clottier then seed may remain bare and that
will result in poor germination. On the other hand powdery soil may become compact and allow less seed germination.
It is very important that well-rotten farmyard manure (FYM) should be applied a month prior to land preparation. Press mud from the sugar industry is another excellent source of organic matter and nutrients.
.Green manuring may also serve the purpose.
There are two planting seasons: Rabi or fall sowing in September – November and spring sowing in February – March. Fall planting starts from the first week of September and continuous to mid-October in the Punjab and Sindh, while in the K.P.K. planting is done in October and November. Spring planting starts from mid-February and lasts until the end of March in the Punjab and Sindh. These planting times are strictly observed because late planting can reduce the yield by as much as 30 percent.
September planted crop usually produces 25 to 35 % higher yield. In Pakistan Planting time of sugarcane planting is usually carried out in autumn and spring seasons. Autumn planting is of high yield and high sugar recovery compared to spring planting. In fact, September planting gives very luxuriant growth, which is mostly vulnerable to lodging. The crop gives good appearance till June-July but is subject to lodging in July or even earlier if there are wind storms or excessive rains.
Appropriate seed rate and spacing are often ignored by farmers with the result that the optimum plant population which is the key factor in sugarcane production is not achieved in the field. The seed rate and spacing between rows differ with variety. Thick-cane cultivars like BL – 4, and PR – 1000 require a higher seed rate and more space between the rows than thin and medium-cane varieties. 80 – 90 maunds of stripped cane per acre for thick varieties and 60 – 70 maunds for medium to thin varieties are sufficient to produce a desired plant population about 60000 canes per acre.
Sets should be selected only from new cultivated immature crop as an over mature crop will have a large number of dry scale buds. In the case of dry scale buds it should be treated with lime solution. All sets should
be equal in length with 2-3 buds. Sets should be cut with a sharp tool sickle or axe.
METHOD OF PLANTING
Spacing between the rows should be 3 feet of thick varieties and 2 –2.5 feet for thin to medium varieties allows sufficient space for operations like intercultural and earthing up. It is also observed that planting sugarcane in furrows 4 feet apart in double row, spaced at 9 inches. It gives much better crop stand, and ultimately more yield than traditional methods. This method of sowing is called “2 in 1” means two sugarcane setts rows in a single trench with about 9 inches space between them.
DEPTH OF PLANTING
Double-cut sets are placed end to end in furrows at a depth of 8 – 12 cm and covered with 5 – 6 cm soil. In the dry method immediate irrigation is essential and subsequent irrigations at short intervals.
HOT WATER SEED TREATMENT
Seed may be treated with hot water at 52 °C for 30 minutes and with fungicide. This will help in better germination and the control of many cane diseases.
AMOUNT OF SOIL COVER OVER SEED CANE
Research on depth of soil cover over seed cane indicates that soil cover in excess of 4 inches can cause yield losses even if the excess is removed in the spring following planting. Heat-treated cane should be covered with 2 inches of packed soil. After the cane is up to a good stand and before freezing weather occurs, add an additional 2 inches of soil to protect from freeze damage. Do not cover heat-treated cane with more than 2 inches of packed soil at planting.
Use healthy seed of improved varieties of sugarcane. This can increase cane yield from 20 to 25 per cent. Sugarcane varieties recommended for various provinces are given below.
Recommended Varieties of Sugarcane Punjab
CP 77-400, CP 72-2086, CP 43-33, CPF-237, HSF 240, SPF-213, SPSG-26,
SPF 243, SPF 237, CPF 237, COJ-84.
BL – 4, BF – 129, HS – 2, Thatta – 10, PR–1000, CP 72–2086, L–113, L–116, NIA 98, SPSG – 26, HS – 4, HS – 12, L–126, CP–43-33, NIA–2004, NIA-2010, NIA-2011.
MCP – 421, CP 51 – 21, JN 88 –1, Mardan – 93, ABID – 96, SPSG – 344, CP
77-400, CP 44 – 101, L 62 – 96, SL – 98, Mardan – 92, Banu – 1.