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Old 07-12-2009, 08:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

I want to put in some sugar cane. I am in usda zone7.

I have read that it needs warmer areas, but also I have read of people planting it in much colder areas...with success..that is just has a shorter growing season and wont get as large.

I would appreciate any info that others have.

Thanks

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Old 07-12-2009, 09:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

I've grown it in Z 3a, so you've got a heads up on me. Plant it early and harvest before the first frost and you'll be fine - it's big grass, so if you can grow Bamboo you can grow Cane.

However, for good sugar production (which is presumably why you'd be growing it) you'll need higher temps. Be aware that it's an intensely heavy feeder.
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Old 07-12-2009, 09:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

It also has a long list of insect pests, especially planthoppers which can disease the cane. Lorax should have some fair insight as Ecuador is a prime location for sugarcane farming.
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Old 07-12-2009, 09:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

Im going to keep an eye on this thread great question.
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Old 07-12-2009, 10:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

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Im going to keep an eye on this thread great question.
Okay . Sugarcane is a tall, perennial grass growing 6-19' tall of the family Poaceae & the tribe Andropogoneae. It stores energy as sucrose in it's sap. Minimum annual rainfall required is 24". Brazil is the largest producer of sugarcane. While dropping seeds generate new ratoons (young stalks), it is often necessary to propogate the cane by cuttings made that have at least 1 bud on the stalk.
Pests include Cane Grubs that eat at the roots. These are easily controlled with Confidor or Lorsban. Also, the larvae of some butterfly & moth species, to include the Turnip moth. Other pests are the Sugarcane borer Eoreuma Loftini, Leaf cutting ants, termites, Spittlebugs (esp. Mahanarva fimbriolata & Deois flavopicta), the beetle Migdolus fryanus, & the Planthopper.
The planthopper Eoaetopina flavipes acts as a vector for the phytoplasma causing the Sugarcane disease Ramu Stunt.
It's a wild looking & fascinating plant and, as I said, Lorax can definitely provide info on this - she not only grew it but lives in Ecuador, a prime location for Sugarcane farming.
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Old 07-12-2009, 10:50 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

Thanks for the info. I don't think that one finds most of those pests in the high desert of AZ. I guess that I will need to find some sugarcane and just give it a try next spring.

Cane grows here okay. We get pretty warm temps here. Today was 100F. What limits us on many of the things we plant is not the lack of warmth, nor the intense colds of winter..rather the warm late winters/early springs that trick all the plants into thinking summer is close and the blossom only to loose the blossoms to a late freeze. (that takes most of our pitted fruits 7 out of 8 years)

Will a frost kill sugar cane? Would I need to wait until past danger of frost to plant, or would one be able to plant it and mulch heavy on nights when there were frosts dangers?

thanks again

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Old 07-13-2009, 05:48 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

AZ? I think the question should be is would 120F kill it lol.
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Old 07-13-2009, 07:01 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

if you look at the hills in front of my house: coming here to learn and share
most of them are in Utah..only the very far left are in AZ. UT is about 1/4 mile north of me, and we are at 4800 feet elevation.

It does get warm here sometimes, but never like down in the valley, and even on our hottest days (+- 105F) the nights cool down to the 70s.

Heck, winters aren't too bad either. Although we are zone 7, most of the winter is quite mild. We only have a couple weeks, usually, that freeze hard. Those weeks may drop into the single digits though. I have seen it below zero here, but that happens rarely.

All in all, this is a pretty good place to live. The only thing that we really lack is water. If you gave us water, we could really grow things here. (and if you would stop those late spring frosts that like to kill our apricot and peach blossoms.)

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Old 07-13-2009, 08:54 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

Hi Browndrake ,
Had to get some zzz's... FROST will kill sugarcane. However, you have an out: In Florida, the growers cut the cane stalks down to ground level (prior to cold temperature extremes) and cover the rows with mounds of dirt. The base of the cane, therefore, survives & sends up new Ratoons (young canes) from the buds about the base of the plant.
You're right on 2 counts:
1. Your long warm periods will be extremely advantageous .
2. Water Will be a problem.
From seed, you can get a 2-4 pound (15% sugar) stalk within 12 months of the original planting date. -- If you start by planting a Ratoon (small plant), you can get the same results in just 9-11 months.
Temperature & Moisture : Sugarcane does best at a humid 70-90 degrees F.
I use two methods with my Australian tree fern to combat the humidity problem.
1. Frequent spraying using a water bottle.
2. I fill a large, shallow container (ie. artificial plastic fish pond) with water & put the fern beside it. The water, by evaporation in the heat, produces the necessary humid conditions for the plant. You might try planting the Cane around such containers.

Curious: Will you be growing a Chewing, Crystal, or Syrup variety?

Last edited by Eric : 07-13-2009 at 08:57 AM. Reason: Added info
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Old 07-13-2009, 09:11 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default 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.
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Old 07-13-2009, 09:22 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

Thanx for the info, Beth ! I'll only be growing it aesthetically but Do want nice looking plants.
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Old 07-13-2009, 09:25 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

I should also tell you that in commercial canefields, the planters remove the ratoons after harvest and burn off the rootstock, to return the nutrients to the soil as ash. Cane is such a heavy feeder that if they didn't do this (along with intensive re-manuring of the fields) the next crop wouldn't take.
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Old 07-13-2009, 09:30 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

Great Thread !! Could use some Great Pics to go with it !!



Beth: Can't grow pineapples here (esp. with all the hummingbirds). As for insects, this place is Insect Central which is going to be a major challenge. Eat grasshoppers/locusts !!

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Old 07-13-2009, 10:20 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

They're tasty! And who says hummingbirds would be a problem with pineapple crops? A few seeds in the fruits is not so huge a deal...

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Old 07-13-2009, 10:34 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

Great shot, Beth !
Did have a great Pineapple plant, last summer... If seeds aren't so big a problem, might try one, again.
Interesting... I might have to get gutsy on the grasshopper thing. I Luv grub worms, anyway.
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Old 07-13-2009, 10:44 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

If growing it for ornamental purposes only, try Saccharum arundinaceum. It's hardy to zone 7.

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Old 07-13-2009, 10:52 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

Quote:
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If growing it for ornamental purposes only, try Saccharum arundinaceum. It's hardy to zone 7.

Frank
Thanx Frank! Will Definitely try that one.
BTW, also picked up on your advice, in another thread, about leaving banana plants dry during over-wintering. Will be taking that advice this winter since I lost one of my Blue Javas (soggy corm) this spring.
Thanx for both Great Tips!
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:08 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

We have quite a bit of cane growing around town. It gets pretty ratty looking if not cared for. I wanted to plant some but my wife said no, it's an eyesore.
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:12 AM   #19 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

Quote:
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We have quite a bit of cane growing around town. It gets pretty ratty looking if not cared for. I wanted to plant some but my wife said no, it's an eyesore.
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:18 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: who can enlighten me about sugar cane?

She lets me do just about anything gardening wise so I have to respect her athooratiii every once in a while.
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