Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?
Browndrake, it will love your high temps but you will have to water it like nobody's business. Most of the commercial cane here in Ecuador is grown right on the floodplains of the rivers, in areas that get in excess of 80cm of rain a year. Frost WILL kill it, as will becoming parched. Elevation however isn't an issue, because there are cane fields in the deserts at 2200m here (7212 feet) that produce some of the best sugar in the country - the irrigation systems are amazing. If you can manage to keep it alive, the heat and dryness of your location will concentrate the sugar in the stalks, and increase your yield slightly over those who grow in humider areas. Cut your cane before the first frost, or before it blooms (you'll notice a lengthening of the terminal nodes) - whichever comes first. After it blooms, your sugar content will drop dramatically. On the other hand, if you let a couple of canes bloom you'll have seed to start indoors for next year, since you won't be able to store ratoons long enough (with your winter).
In my personal cane patch (in the jungle), I grow a cultivar called 'Flor del Azucar' which is a mixed-purpose cane for syrup and crystal. I have a small wooden hand-driven trapiche (cane-crusher) and a series of copper pots for the reduction of the finished product. From this cane, I get panela (first-stage sugar) of a deep mahogany brown, and I don't refine it any further than that.
Michael, I actually have more problems with pests in my timber bamboo than I do with my cane - the only thing in this area that seems to really affect it are the root-borers, and multiculturing with pineapples seems to reduce that significantly (and the cane, which grows super fast, is ideal shade for the bromeliads). Other than that it's grasshoppers/locusts, and I just pick those off and eat them when they come in.