How to Harvest Sugar Cane

Save

If you're looking for a tall, fast-growing windbreak or screen that gives you a delicious treat, consider sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum). This large grass grows in warm winter climates of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11. Sugar cane gives the world 75 percent of its sugar, and it's still a crop in the southern U.S. To get started, lay pieces of cane horizontally in furrows in late summer or fall. They'll sprout the next spring and grow all summer.

Timing the Harvest

  • Sugar cane grows 8 to 10 feet tall or more by harvest time. The goal is to harvest the cane when it has the maximum amount of sugar in the stem pith, but before any temperatures near freezing threaten the crop. Freezing ruins the canes. For signs sugar cane is ready to cut, take some tips from sugar cane farmers. They listen for a metallic sound when a fully grown cane is tapped, and they watch for leaves turning yellow and becoming dry. When you make a slanting cut across a ripe cane, hold it up to the light and look for sugar crystals in the juice oozing from the stem.

Cutting the Canes

  • Before starting work, put on a thick long-sleeved shirt, long pants and gloves. Sugar cane leaves have sharp edges and give nasty wounds like deep paper cuts. The tall plants have dust and debris on their tall stems, so wear a hat or put a bandana over your hair. Sharpen up a machete or use lopping shears. Keep a whetstone handy for re-sharpening the tools. Wipe the tools with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol before using them. Cut the stems off as close to the soil as possible, because the sugar concentration is highest at the bottoms of the stems.

Stripping the Stems

  • Cut off the top part of each stem that is still green and doesn't have the thick nodes present that accumulate sugar. Then strip the leaves from each stalk of cane. You can use the trimmings to mulch over the row of cut stalks, because they'll sprout again in spring. The mulch helps protect the sugar cane roots and culms from the cold.

Washing and Sectioning

  • Rinse off each stem to remove dirt, dust and debris. Then cut the canes into shorter sections. Use them as they are for chewing canes. You can't store sugar cane for any length of time without a significant decrease in the amount of sugar. If you have sufficient quantities, you can try making cane syrup.

References

  • Photo Credit Sandrine Ribeyron/Hemera/Getty Images
Promoted By Zergnet

Comments

You May Also Like

  • What is Sugar Cane?

    Sugar cane is a subtropical/tropical grass that originated in Papua, New Guinea and spread throughout Southeast Asia, India, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean,...

  • The Growing Conditions for Sugar Cane

    Sugar cane grows in tropical and subtropical areas around the world, including areas in the United States, such as Florida and Hawaii....

  • The Life Cycle of a Sugarcane Plant

    Sugarcane, or Saccharum officinarum, is a tropical grass that is the source of about 75 percent of the world's sugar supply. It...

  • How to Grow a Sugar Cane Plant

    Sugar cane is believed to have originated in the South Pacific and has been known for at least 2200 years. Sugarcane is...

  • How to Grow Sugar Cane in Georgia

    Saccharum officinarum, more commonly known as sugar cane, is a tropical perennial grass that is used to make syrup and granulated sugar....

  • How to Harvest Maple Syrup

    The practice of harvesting sap from maple trees to make syrup spans back to the early colonists who learned it from the...

Related Searches

Check It Out

How to Make a Vertical Clay Pot Garden

M
Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!