Sugarcane grows mainly in tropical regions with a hard thick stem growing up to the height of 3.5 m or more. India has the largest area under sugarcane in the world. It is used for manufacturing sugar, gur, and khandsari. India is the second-largest producer of sugarcane in the world after Brazil. Climatic conditions, Soil, Methods of sugarcane Cultivation and distribution are written below.
Climatic Conditions and Soil for Sugarcane Cultivation
- Sugarcane grows well in regions with temperatures between 20°C and 24°C. Dry winter is ideal for ripening and harvesting.
- Frost can severely damage the crop.
- Sugarcane grows well in tropical regions with rainfall of 100–150 cm distributed throughout the year.
- Dry sunny weather is essential during the ripening stage of the cane.
- Rich alluvial and lava soil are considered best for the growth of sugarcane.
Methods of Sugarcane Cultivation
Sowing: Sugarcane is planted by the following methods:
- Sett method: New canes are taken out from old plants. These cuttings of new plants known as ‘setts’ are planted and four to five stalks grow from each cutting.
- Ratooning method: Sugarcane is harvested leaving a little stalk with the roots in the soil. Any crop obtained from the roots of the leftover crop is known as ratoon. Advantages of ratooning are that it saves labour as plants need not be planted again and it is a cheaper method as it does not involve any extra inputs.
- Sugarcane is also planted by seeds, but this method of sowing is hardly used.
Harvesting: It is harvested in northern India before the winters to save it from frost. The crop is cut by hand using a long curved knife. The stalk should be cut close to the ground as the greatest accumulation of sucrose is in the base of the stem.
Processing: After harvesting, the sugarcane has to be taken to the mill at the earliest. It is because the sucrose content starts decreasing after 24 hours of harvesting. In the mills, canes are crushed and boiled with lime to make raw sugar. It is reprocessed to make brown and white sugar. Only one-third of the sugarcane grown in the country is used for making sugar. The remaining two-thirds are used for making gur and khandsari.
Three main areas of sugarcane distribution are
- The Satluj Ganga Plain from Punjab to Bihar, regions of black soil from Maharashtra to Tamil Nadu and coastal Andhra Pradesh and the Krishna Valley.
- Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh are the leading producers of sugarcane in the world. Tamil Nadu is the largest producer of sugarcane in South India.
- Sugarcane has begun to be grown in South India as it has a favourable maritime climate free from the effects of summer loo and winter frost and has good irrigation facilities.
Also, Read 8 Types of Agriculture in India