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SUGARCANE (Saccharum officinarum)



 Sugarcane grows best in the tropical regions, receiving a rainfall of 750-1200 mm. Sugarcane grows well on medium heavy soils, but can also be raised on lighter soils and heavy clays, provided there is adequate irrigation. The soils should be well drained.

The normal planting season is October-December. Delay in planting reduces cane yield. Planting should not be delayed beyond February in the plains. In hilly tracts where sugarcane is cultivated under rain fed conditions, planting should be done after abatement of heavy rains.



 Co Tl 88322 (Madhuri): Resistant to red rot disease
Co 92175: Suitable for drought prone situation
Co 740: For ratooning
Co 6907, Co 7405 and Cul 57/84 (Thirumadhuram): Red rot resistant, high sugar content
Cul 527/85 (Madhurima): Resistant to red rot, tolerant to drought and waterlogging
Co 88017 (Madhumathi): Resistant to red rot, tolerant to drought and waterlogging




Preparation of land
Plough the land thrice length-wise and breadth-wise and level properly. Prepare furrows 25 cm deep and 75 cm apart for short duration and 90 cm apart for medium duration varieties. In hilly tracts, prepare pits in rows along the contour at spacing of 30 cm in the row and 75 cm between the rows. For mid late varieties, an inter-row spacing of 75 cm is recommended.

Selection of setts
Select top ends of mature, healthy disease free canes up to 1/3 of total length and cut into setts of three eye buds. The seed rate is 40000-45000 setts per hectare.

Seed treatment
For control of fungus diseases like red rot, dip cut ends of setts in 0.25% solution of copper based fungicide.

Plant setts end to end in the furrow, with the eye buds facing sideways and cover with soil. In the pit system, plant 2-3 setts in each pit.
Ratoon crop
Normally not more than two ratoon crops are recommended. Burn the trash after spreading uniformly in the area immediately after harvest of the previous crop. Stubble shaving should be done with a sharp spade wherever the canes are not cut close to the ground.

Gap filling
Fill the gaps at the rate of one three budded sett for every 50 cm gap.

Manuring of ratoon crop
Ratoon crop requires a higher dose of nitrogen than the plant crop. An extra dose of 25% nitrogen is recommended.
Manure the crop by 25th and 75th days after harvest of the previous crop. Entire quantity of phosphorus, half of nitrogen and potash are applied as the first dose and the remaining as the second dose. The first dose is incorporated into the soil by digging and the second dose is applied around the clump and earthing up is done. Weeding is also done at this time. Irrigation is given as in plant crop.
Under irrigated conditions, intercropping with short duration pulse crop is recommended. In such cases, sow the pulse crop on the ridges one month in advance, so that the first inter-cultivation is not hindered. As a green manure, sunn hemp can also be raised on the ridges.



Irrigate the crop 8-10 times depending upon the availability of rains. In Chittoor area, more number of irrigations will be necessary. In early growth periods, irrigate the crop at more frequent intervals. However, avoid too much moisture and water stagnation especially during germination and early growth phases




Apply compost or cattle manure, 10 t/ha or pressmud 5 t/ha or dolomite 500 kg/ha or calcium carbonate 750 kg/ha. In addition, the following fertilizers as N:P2O5:K2O kg/ha are also recommended.

Pandalam and Thiruvalla areas:165: 82.5: 82.5
Chittoor area: 225:75:75
Newly cleared forest areas: 115:75:90

Apply organic manures such as compost / cattle manure / pressmud as basal dose preferably in furrows and mix well with soil before planting.

Apply lime / dolomite / calcium carbonate in the field before final preparation of the land.

Apply N and K2O in two split doses, the first 45 days after planting and the second 90 days after planting along with earthing up. Do not apply N beyond 100 days after planting.
Apply entire dose of phosphorus as basal dressing.


The crop should be weeded twice on 45 and 90 days after planting before application of fertilizers. First weeding is done by digging on the ridges and by hand in the furrows. Care should be taken to see that the furrows are not filled up while digging so that tillering is not affected. At the time of second digging, the crop is partially earthed up to arrest formation of late shoots. With the commencement of the southwest monsoon, final earthing up should be done to prevent lodging. At this time, de-trashing is to be done to prevent the possible germination of auxillary buds and to reduce pest infestation. Prevent lodging either by twisting of trash or by propping.

Atrazin 2 kg ai/ha can be applied as a pre-emergent weedicide 3 days after planting.


The important pests of sugarcane found in the state are early shoot borers, top shoot borers mealy bugs, white grubs, termites and rats.

Use pest free setts for planting.
Adhere to clean cultivation.
Use traps or poison baiting for controlling rats.
Apply carbaryl 10% dust in the furrows to control termites and white grubs.



Red rot
The most characteristic symptom of the disease is the drying up of the canes, which when split open will show characteristic red colouration of the internal tissues with horizontal white patches and the typical foul smell. The disease is mainly transmitted through infected setts and flowing water and can be checked only by prophylactic means which are given below:

1. Affected crop should be harvested as early as possible to prevent loss in yield and deterioration in quality and also to arrest further spread of the disease. The crop residues should be completely burnt after harvesting.
2. When infection is noticed in the field, the affected clumps should be uprooted and burnt promptly.
3. Infected crop should never be ratooned.
4. Water should not be let into a healthy crop from diseased areas and as far as possible, the field may be kept free of standing water by providing drainage channels.
5. In severely affected areas sugarcane should not be cultivated at least for one season during which paddy and tapioca can be cultivated.
6. Seed setts should not be collected from diseased crops and from diseased areas.
7. Movement of seed materials from diseased to healthy areas should be strictly quarantined.
8. Cultivate red rot resistant varieties.
9. To control the fungal diseases, in general, dip the cut ends of setts in any of the copper based fungicide solution before planting.

Other transmissible diseases like grassy shoot, ratoon stunting etc. can be controlled by heat treatment and by implementing three tier seed programme.



 Harvest the crop when it is fully mature. Delayed harvesting will reduce yield and recovery percentage




KISSAN Kerala Operations Centre, IIITM-K, NILA, Techno park Campus, Thiruvananthapuram

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