- Sugarcane requires good seed bed. A good soil on land
preparation approach should involve the following essential
1. Management of preceding crop residues
2. Tillage (ploughing, harrowing, sub soiling etc)
4. Incorporation of organic manures
5. Field layout as per planting methods
Management of preceding Crop Residues
- Land preparation for sugarcane starts with clearing the
preceding crop residues.
- In tropical India, in many areas sugarcane is planted after
- Paddy leaves behind huge amount of stubbles and roots (2-3/ha)
which need to be incorporated or removed.
- In most areas these residues are incorporated through tillage
or collected, heaped and burnt in situ and the ash is spread
in the field.
- Cultivation of paddy also leads to the destruction of soil
structure due to puddling.
- Therefore, when paddy is a preceding crop, residue and soil
structure management are the important aspects of soil preparation.
- Soon after paddy harvest ploughing is difficult because of
excess soil moisture.
- After complete draining of water and as soon as the field
reaches optimum soil moisture level, the field must be ploughed
using a disc plough or a rotavator.
- When rotavator is used, the stubbles get incorporated with
- Then the field is left for 8-10 days for weathering.
- Then cross ploughing is done which may be followed by harrowing.
- These operations may be repeated so that a good seed bed is
obtained for planting sugarcane.
- Before last ploughing, recommended quality of FYM or well
cured press mud or compost is applied.
- It is difficult to incorporate the hardy stubbles of the preceding
crops such as cotton, sorghum, maize etc. Under such situations
stubbles must be removed before preparing the land for sugarcane.
- Wheat is one of the common preceding crops in the subtropics.
- Since, soil moisture is usually favourable after wheat harvest,
quick preparation of the soil is possible.
- In several areas, sugarcane is also monocropped. In such cases,
after the harvest of the ratoons, trash is collected and burnt
or may be used for composting.
- The field is ploughed using a disc plough.
- The stubbles may be collected and removed from the field.
- If there is any pest or disease in the crop, it is advisable
to burn the entire trash and stubbles.
- Otherwise stubbles could be incorporated through a rotavator.
- Tillage operations through tractor drawn implements are
most ideal and quick. But larger fields are preferred for
- For initial
ploughing mould board ploughs or disc ploughs are
used. Whenever, soil turning is desired, a mould board
plough should be used. When the soil is hard, uneven,
or is having more crop stubbles, a disc plough is
- After initial one or two ploughings, the soil must be
allowed to weather for a week or two before going for
further tillage operations.
- The secondary tillage operations are carried out using
either disc harrows, tyne harrows or rotavator.
- The rotavator is a very useful multi purpose implement which
cuts the crop residues, shred them and incorporates with the
soil in one pass.
- The operations are repeated to bring the soil to a good seed
bed free from clods, weeds and crop residues.
- In regions where sugarcane is rotated with paddy (or) where
heavy machinery run on moist soils (or) accumulation of clay
in 'B' horizon under sub-humid conditions, presence of kankar
layers and shallow depth cultivation for longer periods a
hard sub-surface pan may be developed due to the formation
of plough sole.
- Under these conditions deep ploughing has to be resorted to.
Deep ploughing facilitates better aeration and infiltration
of water leading to adequate availability of oxygen to plants.
- As long as water and oxygen are available, root development
will be good and their efficiency viz., the capacity to absorb
water and nutrients will increase.
- With the increase in porosity of the soil, the efficiency
of nitrogen will be more viz., same yield is obtained at less
level of nitrogen.
- The loose friable soil at the beginning of the plant crop
gradually becomes firm and compact at the commencement of
ratoon crop because of alternate wetting and drying and compaction
caused during the harvest of the plant crop.
- Due to this and poor efficiency of higher doses of nitrogen
than to the plant crop are applied to get good yields from
- A fairly leveled field is important to ensure a uniform
- If the field is uneven, there will not be proper distribution
of irrigation water.
- This would affect germination as well as further crop growth.
- Therefore field levelling maintaining a gentle slope to facilitate
easy movement of irrigation water is important.
- In the absence of a gentle slope, the percolation of water
will be uneven being deeper towards the head of the furrow
and shallow towards the tail end.
- Levelling can be carried out using a tractor operated leveller.
Addition of Organic Manures
- Organic manure addition at the time of soil preparation
is very important to improve and maintain soil fertility and
productivity and thus to realise higher yields year after
- For sustainable sugarcane production the importance of organic
matter needs no emphasis.
- If the organic matter applied is well decomposed there is
no necessity to wait for plating.
- If fresh green manure or pressmud applied planting should
be done only after complete decomposition otherwise the plant
stand is very poor.
Main field preparation and transplanting
- The mainfield preparation is done as usual. Basal manures
are applied in the furrow in band or if labour is available,
by digging a pit at the site of transplanting. The furrow
- The nursery bed should be well soaked so that the settlings
could be easily removed without much damage to the root system.
- The green leaves should be clipped off. The settings are dipped
in a fungicide solution.
- They are then transplanted in the furrow following 30-45 cm
- An additional line may be planted in every 10th row as material
for gap filling.
- The life irrigation is given on 3rd or 4th day. After 10-15
days, the gap filling is done using the settlings planted
on the 10th row.
- This technique may not be suitable during dry weather. Proper
irrigation management till settlings establish is very important.
Poly bag seedling transplanting
- This technique
is also more or less same as STP technique.
- Here the seedlings are raised in perforated
plastic bags of size 10x15 cm filled with FYM
or pressmud, soil and sand 1:1:1 proportion.
- In this technique field establishment of seedlings
is better, around 95-99%, as there is no damage
to the root system.
- In this method, a small pit is dug out at specified
- A small quantity of phosphatic fertilizer is placed and
covered with some soil. Then the settling is planted after
clipping the green leaves.
'Chip-bud' or 'bud-chip' technique
- In this technique the bud along with a portion of
the nodal region is chopped off using a bud chipping
- The bud chips are treated with fungicide and planted in the
raised bed nursery or in polythene bags filled with FYM/press
mud, soil and sand in 1:1:1 proportion.
- Seedlings are transplanted as in case of STP technique.
- The advantages are that the quantity of seed material (chip
buds) required is only around 1 to 1.5 tonnes and the cane
after taking chips can be sent for milling.
Paired row system of planting
- In the paired row system, two cane rows are brought together
followed by a wide gap before the next set of two rows.
- The paired rows may be at 60 cm with 120 cm gap.
- In this method the number of rows per hectare remains same.
- The advantages are that wide spacing is available between
the any two setts of paired rows which can be utilised for
growing profitable inter crops.
- Also good earthing up is possible so that lodging could be
- The system also permits better light interception by the crop
and thus can give higher yield.
- In India sugarcane is planted by adopting two systems
viz., (i) Ridges and furrows system (ii) Flat system.
- There are some special systems also such as Trench system,
Deep Trench system, paired - row system, Ring or pit system
- In all these systems sugarcane setts are directly planted.
Ridges and furrows system
- In the finely
prepared field, ridges and furrows are formed using
tractor - drawn or bullock - drawn ridgers. some small
farmers open furrows manually also.
- But for obtaining proper depth, tractor - drawn implement
- The spacing followed ranges from 60-135 cm. between the rows.
- The most common spacing is 90 cm. Closer spacing (60-75
cm.) is desirable for early varieties, short duration varieties
and shy tillering varieties and under poor soil fertility
status and adverse growing conditions like moisture stress
or limited irrigation, soil and water salinity, excess moisture
or water logging and late (summer) planting. Wider row spacing
(100-120 cm.) is advisable under high fertility conditions
with good irrigation facility and for long duration and high
- Depth of furrow should be around 25 cm. Convenient furrow
length depending upon the slope must be followed. However,
a furrow length of 10-15 meter is ideal when guided irrigation
- The furrow bottom should be loosened to about 10 cm. preferably
by working a country plough in each planting furrow after
ridging. Irrigation and drainage channels should be provided
- Drainage channels which are deeper than the furrows and the
irrigation channel, should be opened along with field borders
as well as within the field at regular intervals. Drainage
channels are particularly important in the highly irrigated
- The ridge - furrow system is the most ideal system of planting
under highly irrigated sugarcane cultivation. The system facilitates
easy irrigation, Provides good soil aeration and solid support
to the plant when a proper earthing up is done.
- Flat system of planting is mainly followed in the subtropical
states. It involves repeated ploughing using a country plough
and compacting by planking to conserve soil moisture.
- Repeated ploughing and compaction breaks the capillary pores
and creates a kind of soil mulch and thus helps in conserving
- For planting, shallow furrows are opened with a wooden country
plough and the setts are dropped and again covered by planking.
Irrigation does not follow immediately.
- The entire crop receives only 6-8 irrigations. Manuring and
other operations are carried out after the receipt of the
south-west monsoon rains in June.
- The Trench system is practiced mostly in coastal Andhra
Pradesh in heavy clay soils, mainly in coastal wetlands where
clod formation is common.
- In this system U-shaped furrows or trenches of 25-30 cm.
deep are made mostly using spade and heaping clods manually.
The system is useful to prevent lodging which is quite
common in the East Coastal sugarcane growing areas during
the north-east monsoon period.
- A specially fabricated implement "Ridgemax"
can be used for formation of trenches. There is a provision
in this implement for pulverisation of soil in the planting
trenches simultaneously while making trenches itself.
Higher soil moisture could be maintained in the soil
at the bottom of these trenches than the shallow furrows
and the extent of shoot borer incidence was also substantially
lower. Planting in such deep trenches as compared to
planting in shallow furrows, normally adopted by cultivations
led to an increase in cane yield of 12.5 tonnes/ha.
Deep trench method
- In this system deep trenches of depth 30-45 cm. and width
60 cm. are dugout manually at a spacing of 120 cm. between
the centres of two adjacent trenches. That is the gap between
the trenches is 60 cm. Sugarcane setts are planted on either
side of the trench bottom and covered with soil slightly.
- As the canes grow, the trench is filled with the soil with
each manuring. Finally a small trench is formed in between
two setts of paired rows which serves as a drainage channel
to remove excess water during the N-E monsoon period.
- This system is found ideal for early drought and late
water logged conditions of Coastal Tamil Nadu. In the
initial stage, because the setts are planted deep in
the moist soil zone, they get adequate soil moisture
and thus give good germination and a good initial crop
stand is thus established.
- The trenches formed later on, are useful to drain out
excess water during ripening phase of the crop. This
system is highly labour intensive. But the system gives
higher cane yield. Besides more number of productive
ratoons can be raised.
- Thus additional cost can be more than compensated. Therefore,
if labour is available, this system could be followed with
advantage in the Coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Where early drought and late water logging problems are present.
- It is not desirable to make deep trenches in saline and
alkaline soils because at the bottom of the furrows
of the saline soils there will be more salts. Similarly
in shallow soils murram or other impermeable soil will
be encountered. These will be detrimental to germination
of buds and initial growth of tender plants. Therefore,
on such soils after thorough ploughing and weathering
of soil, shallow furrows are to be made for planting
- This is a technique of planting developed by Sri S.V.
Parthasaradhy an eminent sugarcane scientist.This was suggested
for water logged or excess soil moisture condition occuring
in the coastal Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu during N-E monsoon
- In this method three eye budded setts are planted
in a slanting position, 600 to the vertical, in the
wet furrow or half-way on the ridges. Usually one eye
bud is thrust into the soil and the remaining two will
be above, which will sprout. Once the monsoon recedes,
the in situ sprouted setts are pressed down into the
soil and made to lie horizontally. Some soil is put
to the base. At this stage, the crop is manured.
- This method is developed by Dr. R.R. Panje and associates
at the Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research (I.I.S.R), Lucknow
for the subtropical sugarcane growing conditions.
- About two months before planting, the seed crop is topped
to remove the green leaves and the tip of the top most internode.
This leads to the sprouting of buds and side shoot formation.
- The time of topping has to be adjusted depending upon the
planting time. In cooler months from topping to planting about
2-21/2 months may be required while for April planting, a
month only may be required. The cut end may be touched with
a rod soaked in a fungicide solution.
- Then the mainfield is prepared by forming trenches of depth
30 cm., width 20 cm. and are spaced at 90 cm. (from centre
to centre). Now 1/3 of fertilizer dose is applied followed
by digging and loosening the trench bottom further to approximately
15 cm. depth.
- The dug out soil is then put back into the trench along with
the remaining fertilizers. Thus about 45 cm. deep trench is
now filled with loose soil and fertilizers.
- For planting seed is collected from topped cane which has
produced sprouts. Long rayungans or tailed rayungans of about
40 cm. with top side shoot intact are used after trimming
the leaves in the trenches at a spacing of 50-75 cm.
- Close spacing is followed when plantings are late and wider
spacing for early planting. The base of the side shoot should
be 5-10 cm. below the original soil surface. The number of
'raumgans' required per hectare is about 20,000.
Ring or Pit system
- This system is developed by Indian Institute of Sugarcane
Research, Lucknow. In this system circular pits of 90 cm.
diameter are dug out to a depth of 45 cm with a gap of 60
cm. on one side and 90 cm on another side is found suitable.
At this spacing, irrigation channels are opened in the 90
- At this spacing about 4,000 pits can be formed per hectare.
The pits are refilled with loose soil and FYM or press mud
cake to a depth of 15 cm. While planting, 20 setts are planted
per pit and covered with soil to a thickness of 5 cm.
- As the crop grows, the soil is filled into the pits while
manuring. This system has given very high yields in the subtropics.
In the tropical India, about 25 percent higher yields were
- The system also given better ratoons and has also been found
useful under saline soils and saline water irrigated conditions.
The system is labour expensive. I.I.S.R, Lucknow has developed
a tractor operated pit digger which can make 500 pits (90
cm dia x 30 cm deep) per a day of shows.
Modified trench system
- In the modified trench system ridges and furrows are opened
at 120 cm. spacing using a tractor drawn ridger. The furrow
bottom is dug and widened and the soil is removed to the ridges.
- Thus trenches are formed, basal manures are applied and then
setts are planted. As the crop grows while each manuring,
only slight earthing up is done so that a trough is maintained
through out the crop growth. Here irrigation is given in the
cane row itself.
- The system has been found highly useful under saline water
irrigated and saline soil conditions.
- This is because, the salts are leached down from the root
zone due to irrigation in the ring system, but with much less
labour requirement. About 30% higher cane yield was obtained
over the conventional ridges and furrows system.
- FYM or pressmud application and trash mulching in this system
gave further yield improvements.
Single bud direct planting
- In this system single bud setts are planted directly in
the field in the furrow at 30-45 cm. spacing between the setts.
This method is highly economical and sowing of seed material.
The buds should be healthy.
Transplanting technique (STP technique)
- Seedlings are raised in a nursery bed using single bud
setts. When the seedlings are of about 6 week old, they are
transplanted in the prepared main field.
Advantages by adopting this system are
1. Saving in the seed cost as the seed requirement
is only about 2-3 t/ha against the normal seed requirement
of 8-10 tonnes/ha.
2. Synchronous tillering leading to uniformly
matured stalk population which usually gives better sugar
3. Sufficient time availability to prepare
the main field.
4. Saving of 2-3 irrigations.
5. Possibility of increased cane yield.
6. Better weed management
7. Efficient fertilizer management.
Raised bed nursery technique
- An area of about 35 m is required to raise the nursery.
The raised bed of one meter width and convenient length may
be made. The length may be broken into 1 m beds (i.e., each
bed will be 1 m x 1 m) FYM or compost or cured pressmud is
added to the nursery beds. Also BHC is applied against insects.
- From a seed nursery crop, seed canes are drawn and single
bud setts are prepared in such a way that the bottom portion
is longer than the top portion.
- There setts are treated with Bavistin. The prepared beds are
thoroughly soaked with water. The setts are pushed vertically
into the soil side by side.
- The eye bud should be just touching the soil surface. The
longer end of the sett should be pushed down. The number of
setts required per hectare is around 35,000 (planting + 10%
gap filling). Then a thin layer of cane trash or paddy straw
which is soaked with the remaining fungicide is applied.
- Over this a thin layer of dry soil is put. The beds are watered
using a rose can daily or on alternate days. About 90 percent
germination can be easily achieved.
- The seedlings are ready for transplantation when most of them
have 2-3 uncurled leaves. The nursery should not be allowed
Use of mechanical planters
- The Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow has
developed bullock-drawn as well as tractor-drawn planters.
- The bullock-drawn planter is suitable for flat planting system
followed in the subtropics in light textured soils.
- This is operated by a pair of bullocks and three persons-one
to guide the bullocks, The second to feed the setts and third
to guide the equipment.
- This gives an out-turn of 1.5 hectare per day at 90cm row
- The IISR tractor drawn semi-automatic sugarcane planter is
useful for furrow planting.
- It does all the operations in single pass. A 35HP tractor
can have a two-row unit and can cover 3.5 hectares per day.
- Besides, the tractor driver, this machine requires 2 more
men to drop the setts.
- An improvement over the semi-automotive planter is
the automatic planter in which sett feeding is done
automatically with this machine, 4-5 hectare planting
per day is possible.
Preparation of setts
- Sugarcane setts are commonly prepared manually in India.
- For this seed canes from nursery crops are harvested at appropriate
- The trash and green leaves are hand stripped to avoid damage
to the buds.
- The setts with either two or three eye buds are cut using
a sharp knife placing the cane on a small wooden log.
- The cuts should be slanting.
- Multiple cuts must be avoided to safe guard the buds and avoid
splits in setts.
- It is desirable to prepare the setts just before planting
may be a day before.
- Also, it is desirable to transport the seed cane unstripped
to the field to be planted and then prepare the setts to avoid
damage to the buds while handling and transport.
- Setts may also be prepared by using a sett cutting machine.
- The Indian Institute of sugarcane research Lucknow has developed
a sett cutting machine.
- The machine can cut 12000 setts/hour with the assistance of
- Sugarcane is a vegetatively propagated crop.
- The seed material used are the stem cuttings known as "setts"
each may have one or several eye buds.
- The use of healthy seed is an important aspect of
successful cane cultivation because most of the sugarcane
diseases are seed - borne and transmitted through seed
- But since cane growers in India use their own commercial crop
for seed purposes.
- If it carries a little inoculum of disease or a single egg
of an insect then after multiplication it might produce diseased
material several times higher in the next crop.
- In this manner multiplication of diseases and pests goes on
to take an epidemic turn some time in subsequent years.
- To avoid such an eventuality, the farmers of sugarcane should
take necessary cane in selection and multiplication of seed
material or Government agencies and sugar factories has to
take up the supply of good quality seed to cane growers from
cane nurseries especially raised for seed puposes.
Ideal cane sett
- Ultimate plant stand and yield depends on the type of
seed material used. The characteristics of good seed cane
1. free from disease and pest infestation
2. age of seed crop is around eight months
3. seeds should have healthy buds without any damage in handling
4. Buds with higher moisture content, adequate nutrients, higher
amount of reducing sugars.
5. cane should be free from aerial roots and splits.
6. . pure in quality.
- A sugarcane crop raised exclusively for seed purpose is
known as "short crop".
- The short crop is usually harvested at around 8 months.
- In case of short crop the entire stalk can be used for preparing
setts, discarding only the bottom most buds.
- The short crops or seed crops may be given additional fertilizers
about 6 weeks prior to harvest.
- This practice is known as pre-fertilizing improves seed quality
by enhancing sett nutrient status and sett moisture.
- Thus the seedlings emerging from such setts establish quickly
and grow vigorously.
- Before planting, the dry leaves of the cane stalks are
removed by hand in order to avoid any possible damage to buds.
- Thereafter cane is cut into three budded setts usually 30
to 45 centimetre long.
- About 35000 to 40000 setts are needed to plant one hectare
which can be obtained from about 75-80 quintals of cane.
- To prevent the seed setts being attacked by fungal diseases
and also to improve germination, the seed setts are dipped
into 0.5 per cent solution of Agallol (3%) or 0.25 per cent
solution of Aretan (6%) or Tafasan (6%) before planting.
- Under normal planting, if the quality of setts is good about
60,000 two-bud setts or 40,000 three-bud-setts would be sufficient
to plant one hectare of laid and raise a good crop.
- But, as bud damage is quite usual while handling and transportation
75,000 two bud setts or 50,000 the-bud setts per hectare are
- Higher seedrate is preferred particularly under moisture stress,
salinity and water logging conditions.
- It is better to go by number of setts per hectare rather than
weight basis as sett weight varies with varieties.
- At reduced spacing we have to plant more number of setts per
hectare as the sett number per unit row length is maintained
- But while the spacing is widened, it is advisable to put whole
seed cane per unit row length.
Time of Planting
- In India, sugarcane is planted thrice a year in October
(autumn), February-March (spring) and July (adsali).
- Adsali planting is quite common in Maharashtra while autumn
and spring plantings are more common in northern India.
- Under North Indian conditions, sugarcane, by and large, planted
- Sugarcane requires about 2-32"C for good germination.
This temperature requirement is met twice in north Indian
conditions i.e., in the month of October and also in the months
- Autumn planting of sugarcane is done in the month of October.
For good yields, planting should be completed up to 20th October.
- Delay in planting may cause reduction in yield as germination
of sugarcane is reduced due to low temperature in late planting.
- Spring cane is planted in February-March. March is the best
time for cane planting in Punjab and Haryana, February-March
in Uttar Pradesh and January-February in Bihar.
- The planting time is advanced as we move towards east.
- In Tamil Nadu, Andhra Prades, Telangana, Maharashtra
and Karnataka cane planting is done in December-February.
Sugarcane is planted by three methods in different parts of India.
(a) Flat Planting
- In this method, shallow (8-10 centimetre deep) furrows
are opened with a local plough or cultivator at a distance
of 75 to 90 centimetre.
- There should be adequate moisture in the field at the time
- The setts are planted in them end to end taking care that
one three budded sett falls in each running 30 centimetre
length of furrow.
- After this furrows are covered with 5-7 centimetre of soil
and field is levelled by heavy planking.
- In most parts of northern India and some tracts of Maharashtra,
cane:is planted by this method.
(b) Furrow Planting
- In this method furrows are made with a sugarcane ridger
about 10-15 centimetre deep in northern India and about 20
cm in south India.
- Setts are planted end to end ill the furrows are covered with
5-6 centimetre soil, leaving upper portion of furrows unfilled.
- Immediately after covering the setts water is let into furrows.
- This method is practised in parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh
and in Peninsular India, particularly in heavy soils.
(C) Trench Method
- In some coastal areas as well as in other areas where
the crop grows very tall and the strong winds during rainy
season cause lodging of cane, trench method is adopted to
save the crop from lodging.
- 'I'renches at a distance of 75-90 centimetre are dug with
the help of ridger or by manual labour.
- Trenches should be about 20-25 centimetre deep
- After this already prepared mixture of fertilisers (NPK) should
be spread uniformly in the trenches and mixed thoroughly in
- The setts are planted end to end in trenches
- Trenches are filled up with loose soil as in case of hat sowing.
- The tractor-drawn sugarcane planter is a very suitable device
for planting cane in trenches.
(D) Recommended planting method
- Under normal condition, ridges and furrows method is easy
and most useful.
- In this system first basal manures-usually phosphatic
fertilizers is placed in the furrow bottom and mixed
with the soil, then treated setts are placed either
in end-to-end or in an over-lapping fashion.
- "End-to-end" placement of setts is followed
when the seed rate is lower and the internodal length
of the variety is shorter.
- The overlapping type of sett placement is followed if the
setts have longer internodes and seed rate is higher.
- Then the setts are covered with soil and irrigated.
- This type of planting is known as "dry planting".
- This is followed in light soils in heavy clay soils,
the furrows are irrigated first and the furrow bottom
soil is brought to a more or less puddled condition
and then setts are pressed down in the soil.
- This method is known as wet method.
- At the time of planting are should be taken to plant the
setts in such a way that the buds are facing the sides.
- Otherwise, the bud facing down wards finds it difficult to
emerge and the one facing upward may be exposed in washing
away of soil while irrigating and thus may dryout.
- The other systems of planting may be followed under
special situations e.g., the modified botch system in
saline soils and saline water irrigation, the 'partha
method' under water logged conditions etc.
to obtain Higher Germination
Some important, yet simple measures to ensure higher germination are
- Using disease free healthy setts obtained from a nursery
- Using three eye bud setts instead of single eye bud setts.
- Careful preparation of setts without damaging the buds or
- Soaking setts in saturated lime water,Planting freshly prepared
and treated setts.Giving light and frequent irrigation dring
- Trash mulching under moisture stress and hot weather and late
- Control of weeds through pre emergence herbicides.
- Seed treatment using a fungicide.
- Healthy seed
material, free from pests and diseases like red rot,
wilt, smut, ratoon stunting etc., should be selected
for seed purpose.
- The top one-third to half portion of a cane being comparatively
immature has buds of high viability and is best for sowing.
- Bottom portion of cane is rich in sugar and takes a long
time in germination; this should be used in Processing.
- comparatively higher germination can be secured by using upper
half of the cane .
- Seed should be taken from well manured, erect and healthy
crop of not more than 10-12 months age.
- Ratoon crop is not suitable for seed purpose as these canes
may carry the disease of the previous crop.
- For best results separate crop nurseries should be raised
specially for producing seed-canes under good crop management.
- Special precautions should be taken against disease and pest
Source of Seed
- In India, sugarcane planting and harvesting operations
coincide in most places.
- Farmers usually drew setts from the crops that are being harvested.
- In such a case, it is deserable to take only the top one-third
of the stalk for preparing setts since the top portion contain
healthy buds, more moisture, nutrients and relatively less
mature and thus has more reducing sugars.
- Whenever, setts are obtained from plant crops, proper seed
selection and seed treatment to avoid cary-over pest and disease
is a must.
- It is always desirable to obtain seed material from nursery
crops, which are raised from originally heat treated seeds.
- Setts should not be drawn from a ratoon crop, a disease or
pest infected crop or from a crop grown under stress condition
such as salinity alkalinity, water logging or drought.
- Soil borne disease causing microbes, usually fungi, gain
entry into the setts through the cut ends following planting.
- This leads to sett rotting and damage to buds and thus
failure of germination.
- The sett rot occurs mainly due to pineapple disease.
- Therefore to guard against such diseases, sett treatment using
a fungicide is absolutely necessary.
- For sett treatment usually organo-mercurial compounds were
used. 'Bavistin' a systemic fungicide is currently recommended.
- A 0.1% solution is recommended.
- This could be prepared by dissolving the chemical @1 g/lit
- Thus to prepare 100 litres of seed treatment solution 100
g of chemical is required.
- The setts
should be dipped in the solution for about 5 minutes.
- A half drum can be used for preparing the solution.
- Sett treatment should be done soon after cutting.
- Most sugarcane farmers do not treat the setts before
- This is why in most cases, germination is only around 40 per cent.
- A germination of around 60 per cent can be easily achieved
by sett treatment which is quiet simple and cheap.
Protection of cut seed canes and prepared setts
- At times, due to some unfore seen circumstances, planting
may get delayed for some time, may be for 2-3 days, after
the seed cane has been harvested or after the setts have been
- In such circumstances some simple measures would help protect
- The seed cane should not be stripped of trash and green leaves.
- It should be kept under shade and covered with trash or straw.
- If the setts have been prepared, they must be treated with
fungicide solution, heaped up under shade and covered with
- Occasional sprinkling of water is also desirable.
- Sprinkling of cow-dung slurry has also been reported to be
Seed Cane Multiplication
Three-Tier seed nursery programme
- Three important diseases are carried forward through seeds.
- They are ratoon stunting disease (RSD), grassy shoot disease
(GSD) and smut.
- These diseases lead to progressive decline in yields and degenerate
- Elimination of these diseases and raising healthy nursery
crops should be an important activity of any sugar factory
- This is done through a practice widely known as "three-tier"
- Under the three-their nursery programme, the seed-brone diseases
are eliminated through heat treatment (heat therappy) and
heat treated setts are planted for multiplication and then
planted in large scale nurseries known as "Commercial
nurseries" from which sugarcane setts are supplied to
the farmers for commercial planting.
- Heat therapy is done either by hot water, hot air, moist
hot air or through aerated steam treatment.
Hot water treatment
- Under hot water system, water is heated to 500C and sugarcane
setts are treated for 2-21/2 hours. It has been found desirable
to put the setts first in the pre-conditioning tanks with
water at 40 to 450C before treating at 500C to avoid shock.
- Often fungicides are also used particularly to eliminate smut.
Hot water treatment units are manufactured by certain firms.
This system allows the use of fungicide directly.
- Hot water baths can be used for commercial scale seed treatment
too. In this system uniform heat treatment is difficult and
thus there are escapes.
Hot air/moist hot air
- Dry heat is produced through electric heaters placed at
different points in the heating chamber.
- A reversed exhaust fan maintains air circulation with hot
air, the time taken is 8 hours at 580C.
- By injecting steam into the chamber, moist hot air treatment
- In this case the treatment is at 540C for 4hours. This system
is highly useful to eliminate smut infected buds.
Aerated steam therapy
- Steam is generated by heating water in a chamber. This
steam is lead to another chamber where it is mixed with air
in the proportion 1:4.
- This aerated steam is fed to the treating chamber through
- The treatment is at 500C for 1 hour.
- In all these treatment plants, thermostats are provided for
- It must be noted that heat-therapy is not the business of
- It must be the work of the sugar factory or any other seed
- Another important point is that the heat treated setts are
not directly used for commercial planting.
- They must pass through various multiplication stages and should
be grown in commercial nurseries from where seed canes or
setts are supplied to the farmers for large scale commercial
Primary seed and primary nursery
- From identified seed plots, setts are prepared and carefully
examined for any cavities or reddening and such setts are
- Then the setts the heat treated by any one of the heat therapy
- After treatment, the setts are dropped in a fungicide solution
(0.1% Bavistin) and planted in a well prepared field.
- All the agronomical practices are followed. These must be
a good disease surveillance throughout the period of nursery.
Escapes, if any, must be rogued out.
- This nursery must be in the research farm, state seed farm
or sugarcane R&D farm.
- At around 8months, these are not cut and planted for further
- The primary nursery is harvested at around 8 months and
planted for further multiplication.
- This is known as secondary nursery. The multiplication rate
ranges from 6 to 8 times.
- These nurseries may be raised by progressive farmers who are
known to follow all the nursery practices.
- From the secondary nurseries, commercial nurseries are
raised from which seed material is supplied for commercial
- Also, "Short Crops" can be raised using commercial
- Once heat treated, the seed will remain free of diseases for
about 5 years.
- Therefore a well-planned scheme to replace the seed once in
every 5 years must be devised.
- For this purpose, entire cane area of a factory may be divided
into 5 sectors and each year one sector may be covered so
that every 5years, seed is replaced with heat treated material
each one in 5years.
- By nursery practice most of the important seed borne diseases
can be eliminated.
- Total elimination of RSD, GSD, tissue infection of red rot
and control of smut is possible.
- RSD, GSD and smut cumulatively cause a loss about 10%.
- About 8-10 tonnes of yield loss per crop could be saved.
Agronomic Practices for sugarcane nursery crops
- To obtain high yields of quality seeds (setts), sugarcane
nurseries should be raised under optimum agronomic practices.
Some of the important considerations and package of practices are furnished below
- As the best age of harvest of a nursery crop is around
8-10months for commercial planting, the planting date of the
commercial nursery should be accordingly adjusted.
- This should take into account the area to be planted in each
months. For example, for planting from December-March, the
nursery planting should be done from April to May.
- If we are starting with primary nursery (after heat treatment)
and going through two stage multiplication (Secondary and
commercial), then primary seed should be planted from December
to April for planting from December to April after 2 years.
Location of Nurseries
The following criteria should be followed while locating the nursery crop.
- Soil should be without problems like alkalinity, salinity,
- There should be adequate irrigation facility.
- The seed plots should be distributed in different divisions
or sections and acccessible for easy distribution.
- There should be good road facility for easy and quick transport.
- The farmers should be progressive.
- Primary nurseries should be located in the factory farm/research
station farm/Government seed farm.
- A through soil preparation involving ploughing and cultivation
is essential so that a good seed bed is prepared. A higher
amount of organic manures is advantageous for nursery crops
for obtaining a vigorous crop. Therefore about 25 to 30 tonnes
of FYM or cured press mud may be applied about 15 days before
- To get a higher yield of setts a slightly narrower spacing
may be advantageous. The spacing therefore could be 75cm between
- At secondary and commercial nursery planting stages, a
seed rate of 60,000 two budded setts /ha is suggested.
- At primary stage a 25% higher seed rate may be adopted to
compensate for the germination loss due to heat treatment.
- A faster rate of growth is essential in the early stage
in the case of nurseries for maximising sett yields.
- Therefore a higher dosage of nutrients, particulary nitrogen
and their early application is advantageous, therefore, a
dosage of 250-300kg N, 75kg P205 and 120kg K2o per hectare
- The fertlizer may be given in 3splits as follows.
|Applied in the furrow
1/3N + 1/3K
|Band placement, close
to the rows and partially earthed up.|
1/3N + 1/3K
|Applied to the base
and slightly earthed up.|
1/3N + 1/3K
|Applied to the base
and fully earthed up.|
Each manuring should be done after weeding and manuring should be followed by irrigation.
- To obtain healthy setts with more moisture, more reducing
sugars and with higher nutrient content prefertilizing the
nursery crop about 6 to 8 weeks prior to harvest is suggested.
- A dosage of 50kgN, 25kg P205 and 25kg K2o per ha may be applied.
- To support and sustain a vigorous nursery crop, irrigating
at optimum levels is important.
- Any shortage in the irrigation would lead to reduced sett
- Besides moisture stress would pre-dispose the crop to the
attack of some pests and diseases.
- Irrigation at IW/CPE ratio of 1.0 is ideal. According to moisture
depletion irrigating at 25% depletion of available soil moisture
(ASM) may be ideal.
- This in practical terms means, application of irrigation once
in 6-7days in a loamy soil and at around 10-12 days in heavy
- A weed-free environment is absolutely essential for better
growth of nursery crops and also to avoid infestation of pests
and diseases being harboured by certain weeds.
- Folllwing weed control schedule may be followed.
- Deep ploughing and removal of perennial weeds.
- Pre-emergence application of atrazine 1.75kg a.i/ha (3.5kg
commercial produce /hr) on 3-4 days of planting using knapsack
- Post-emergence application of 2-4,D Sodium salt @1.0kg a.i/ha
(if broad leaved weeds persist)
- Hand weeding before each manuring.
- Other cultural operations and precautions
- Detrashing need not be done as detrashing may expose the buds
for mechanical damage.
- However, if there is problem of some pests like white flies,
mealy bugs, scales etc. detrashing may be done.
- Also detrashing may be done to avoid spreading due to accumulation
of water within the sheath.
- Good drainage should be ensured. Off types, mixtures, any
diseased dumps must be rogued out.
- While preparing setts, sterilized knives may be used to
avoid transmission of certain diseases like RSD and GSD, for
this a mild solution (0.1%) of Dettol may be used. The knives
may be immersed in the solution of about 5minutes before using
for cutting the setts.
- At each stage of planting, treating the setts in Bavistin
is important to prevent the attack of soil borne, pathogens,
- At primary to secondary stage we can safely take a multiplication
rate of 1:7 At secondary nursery to commercial planting 1:8
multiplication rate can be achieved.
- To increase the multiplication rate, single bud direct planting
or STP techniques can be adopted under these two systems we
can achieve 1:15 or 20 multiplication rate.
- When direct planted or transplanted, a spacing of 75-80 cm
between rows and 30-45 cm between plants may be followed.
For transplanting technique, single bud setts may be planted
in nurseries or in polytene bags filled with suitable mixture
of saved, soil, organic matter and nutrients.
- At 4-6weeks of age, transplanting should be done. Before transplanting,
the leaves should be clipped off.
- The transplanting technique is better restricted to early
planting period i.e. December to February first fortnight.
- As already mentioned, age of the nursery crop may be around
8months at harvest.
- The implement used must be sterilized.
- There should be minimum time gap between harvest and planting.
- Important cultural operations in sugarcane in addition
to weeding, manuring and irrigation are earthing up, detrashing,
propping and flowering control.
- This practice is followed in tropics where furrow irrigation
- Earthing up is done 2-3 times during crop period. The first
earthing-up is known as "partial earthing-up and the
second operation is "full earthing-up".
- Partial earthing up is done after first top dressing essentially
to cover the fertilizer and to provide anchorage to the freshly
developed roots. In this case, soil from either side of the
furrow is slightly taken and placed over fertilizer band when
done manually. This can also be done by using a bullock drawn
implement or a country plough.
- In partial earthing-up, the furrow in which cane row is present
gets partially filled, irrigation is continued to be given
in the furrow itself viz., on the cane row.
- Full earthing-up is done after final manuring (90-120 days
coinciding with peak tillering). In this operation the soil
from the ridge is thrown on both sides towards cane rows and
these furrows will become as ridges and ridges as furrows.
The furrows so formed are used for irrigation.
- Earthing up helps in continous control of weeds covering the
applied fertilisers, for better root development, checks further
tillering, provides better aeration, provides sufficient anchorage
to prevent lodging and controlling pests.
- One more earthing up at 6 month-age of crop after establishing
a stable cane population helps in reducing water shoot and
late shoot formation in addition to the all advantages obtained
by earthing up.
Wet earthing up
- Done around 6months age of the crop.
- The furrows are irrigated and the wet soil from furrows is
taken and plaster the ridges. It checks very effectively late
tillering and watery shoots.
- All advantages due to earthing up listed are also seen in
wet earthing up also.
- High and heavy earthing up is useful during Hoods. When the
flood water recedes, the excess water from earthed-up soil
drains out quickly thus providing a well aerated soil condition.
- This operation is done where soil crust formation is very
- In sub tropics hoeing is done after germination is over using
a bullock drawn or a tractor drawn harrows.
- While carrying out this operation some of the germinated setts
may be uprooted and they are pressed down manually.
- Sugarcane produces large number of leaves-equal to the
number of internodes.
- A normal stalk bears, on an average of 30-35 leaves, under
good growing conditions.
- All are not useful. For effective photosynhthesis only the
top 8-10 leaves are sufficient.
- Most of the bottom leaves are dried will not participate in
photosynthesis at the same time they drain out the food materials
which otherwise could be used for stalk growth.
- Therefore it is important to remove the dry and lower leaves.
- This operation is known as detrashing.
- Detrashing helps in clean cultivation, easy movement of air
within the crop canopy, reduce certain pests like scales mealy
bugs, white fly etc., easy entry into the field, avoids bud
germination due to accumulation of water in the leaf sheath,
easy to take up cultural operations indeed sprayings, easy
to harvest, obtaining clean canes for milling.
- Detrashed leaves can be used for mulching in the furrows or
used for composting of the leaves infested with pest or diesease
better to burn by taking away from the field.
- Tying the canes by using the lower bottom leaves to check
lodging of cane.
- This practice is extensively followed in coastal belt where
cyclone effect is very severe.
- Propping can be either done for each row or two rows can be
brought together and tied.
- Lodging in sugarcane is very common and a serious problems
in coastal belts where the wind velocity is very high.
- Lodging is also very common in tall varieties, top growth
is heavy and where the growth habit is not erect, and the
varieties with less fibre content.
Lodging leads to several problems
1. Cane breakage and thus loss of stalk number at harvest
(loss in cane yield)
2. Lodged canes are easily infested by certain pests and diseases.
3. damage by rats and rodents.
4. bud sprouting leads to reduced cane quality
5. aerial root formation affects cane quality
6. difficult to irrigate and harvest the crop.
To prevent lodging the following operations can be taken up
1. Heavy earthing up
2. Propping by trash twisting
3. Paired row planting with earthing up or propping the paired
4. Deep trench planting
5. Selection of varieties resistant for lodging
6. Raising wind breaks along the field broder.
7. Application of potassium
Removal of water shoots
- Water shoots are late formed tillers or side shoots which
are robust and fast growing.
- They originate mainly due to excess water supply, heavy and
late manuring, inadequate earthing up.
- These water shoots contain lot of water, low sucrose and more
of reducing sugars.
- Water shoots affect the growth of adjacent statics.
- They harbour insect pests and when they are milled sugar recoveries
are low because of reduced juice quality.
- Therefore removal of water shoots whenever they appear is
highly essential. water shoots can be used as cattle feed.
Control of flowering
- In commecial sugarcane cultivation, flowering is not desirable.
Once the plant flowered the cane growth stops and starts ripening.
- Upto 2-3months the flowered cane can be kept in the field
without much deterioration later, if unharvested there will
be reversion of sugars, increase in fibre, pith formation,
cane breakage etc.
- The deterioration is much faster if it is summer.
- Non-flowering or shy flowering varieties can be used where
flowering is a severe problem.
- To reduce the problem of flowering controlled irrigation and
flowering, use of growth regulating substances and change
in planting period may be adopted.
- Normally the flowering period in sugarcane is August.
- Skipping of one or two irrigation a month before flower initiation
will help in reducing flowering.
- However, if there are rains during August withholding of irrigation
may not be useful.
- Spraying of ethrel at 500ppm, twice or 1000ppm once at floral
initiation checks the flowering in early and late varieties
resulting in increased sucrose accumulation and yield.
- Late summer planting also facilitates in checking flowering
and in such delayed planted areas the emerging of cane commences
from June-July and continued upto February.
- After the
harvest of plant crop, buds on the left over underground
stubbles germinate again and give rise to another
- This crop is called ratoon crop.
- Ratoons account for a sizeable share to total sugarcane
production in India.
- However, inspite of experimental findings that with proper
care, growing of ratoon is quite remunerative, only one or
sometimes two ratoons that too of low yields are taken, the
national average cane yields thus are greatly influenced by
low ratoon yields as they contribute 30 percent to the total
Economics of ratooning
- Profitability of raising good ratoon crop is based on
the fact that expenditure on preparation of the field, cost
of seed cane and expenditure in planting comes about 25-30%
in the operational cost are eliminated.
- Total ratoons from cane cultivation depend on how a grower
manages in ratoon crops to get yields comparable to or even
better than that what he gets from the plant crop.
- Ratoons have an additonal advantage in giving better juice
quality and sugar recovery in comparison to the plant crop
of the same variety under similar conditions.
- Ratoons save time as they establish early and matures early
and thus harvested early. Ratoons stabilize the cane area
of the factory.
Frequency of ratooning
- One or two ratoons can be grown successfully throughout
the cane growing areas of India if proper cane is taken, these
can be as productive and healthy as the plant crop.
- In India itself there are cases of successful ratoon management
upto 10 ratoons at Kurnool and 4-5 ratoons in delta districts
of AP and 12 ratoons in South Arcot district.
- Variety with good ratooning potential and good plant crop
are essential. Most of the present day varieties have good
- Early maturing varieties are poor in ratooning than mid late
or late varieties.
- Thin and medium thin varieties give better ratoons than thick
- Varieties of high yield potential as plant crops may give
- Ratooning ability of a variety differs from region to region.
- Varieties with good ratooning potential are - Co6304, Co740,
Co1148, Co7314, Co8013, Co8018, Co8021, Co8122, Co8134, Co8145,
Co8208, Co8362, Co86010 etc.
Time of harvesting plant crop
- Proper development of ratoon crop is essentially dependent
on sprouting of underground buds that remain after harvesting
of the plant crop.
- Soil moisture and vigour of the plant crop at harvest play
a very important role in the early vigorous start of ratoons.
- 80°F with diurnal variation range of 350°F to be conducive
for early start of tillering of the harvested plant crop.
- The extreme climatic conditions of summer and winter months
in north Indian conditions play a vital role in deciding the
time of plant-cane harvest to keep subsequent ratoons but
in the more equable climate of peninsular parts of the country,
difference in the time of planting or harvesting the plant
crop is not likely to have very significant effect on the
yield of subsequent ratoon crop of the same duration.
- Uniform ratoon was obtained from the nursery crop which was
harvested at the age of 7-8 months.
- Stubble sprouting was not proper when the age of the crop
exceeded 13 months.
- Due to higher age at harvest, the bottom buds in the stalk
got dried up. Sprouting of such buds was thus affected adversely.
- Ground level harvesting of plant cane trench-planted and earthed-up
plant cane gave better sprouting of subsequent ratoon crop.
- spaced transplanted (STP) crop produced higher number of millable
canes due to better establishment of stubbles (as at the time
of transplanting. the settlings were placed deep in trenches)
which provided initial nutrition for their early growth.
- Moreover, there was enough space between two clumps of STP
to transmit sufficient light into lower horizons of the crop
canopy which helped in producing more tillers.
- Because of
apical dominance, topmost bud on the stubbles sprout
first to give ratoon crop.
- Sugarcane should be harvested close to the ground
- Cultural operations, besides stubble shaving, also
had advantageous effect on ratoon cane yields.
- Roots that emerge from the topmost sprouted bud may fail
to reach the ground level.
- Hence the sprouted bud dries up in due course of time for
want of support, nutrients and water from the soil.
- These apart, left-over canes due to such harvesting cause
heavy yield losses.
- Although stubble shaving is an important operation, it should
be performed with care, otherwise, plant population may reduce
in shallow planting.
- Gap filling
due to continued and piecemeal harvesting of plant
crop throughout the cane season, ratoon crops in cultivators
fields remain gappy in many cases, particularly in
the sub-tropical northern sugarcane belt.
- This is because the buds in the clumps of cane harvested
under the adverse conditions of extreme low temperature
during winter months and heat during the hot summer
months fail to sprout at all or well enough.
- This situation
is sometimes aggravated by mechanical injury to buds
at harvesting or planting.
- Gap, filling in such situations assumes great importance
in ratoon culture.
- For gap filling, either the pre-germinated settlings
from nursery raised from single bud sets or stubbles
of previous crop or normal 3-bud setts may be used.
- Superiority of one or the other material has been proved
by many workers depending on the soil and climatic conditions.
- Recently raising of pre-germinated single-bud shoots in small
polythene bags and transplanting the same for gap filling
is being practised in many factory zone areas.
- The number of Ratoons from single planting increased, the
cane yield decreases.
- However, condition of farmyard manure @ 15 t/ha boosted the
declined yield of ratoon gain.
Fertilizing the ratoon crop
- Addition of phosphorus and potassium has sustained the
- The extent of yield reduction could be minimised by applying
adequate quantities of fertiliser to the ratoon crop.
Time of application
- In north sugarcane-growing belt of India where lower doses
of N (120 to 200 kg/ha) are used, entire dose has to be applied
at the initiation of ratoons immediately after plant cane
- In areas where irrigation facilities are not sufficient, two
split application of N, half at harvest of plant crop and
remaining half when irrigation is available, have given the
- Placement of nitrogenous fertiliser at 7.5 cm depth gave better
yield of cane than at 22.5 and 4.5 cm depth in ratoon crop.
- Placement of 10 cm deep along the rows of ratoon in comparison
to broadcasting is advised N utilisation as indicated by leaf
N content was significantly higher by spraying of urea @ 100
kg/ha than that of the same quantity applied through soil
in single or split doses.
- Ratoon showed higher N uptake when urea mixed with malathion
- Trash mulching at 3 tonnes/ha improves the yield of ratoon
crop over other methods of disposal of cane trash
- The mulch helps in soil moisture conservation and mulched
ratoon did not show any sign of drought.
- Although there is benefit of trash mulching in ratoon crop,
care has to be taken to see that trash does not carry any
disease or hidden insect pests.
- Ratoon crops have shallower root system than the corresponding
plant crops, hence are less tolerant to drought.
- Higher yields of ratoon was possible when irrigated at 12
days interval in comparison to irrigations given at 24 days
interval with non-significant differences in juice quality.
- Ratoons have lesser capacity to stand water stress conditions
than the plant crops.
- Iimprovement in sucrose content is observed with increasing
number of irrigations upto 8 and deterioration in juice quality
with increasing doses of N upto 200 kg N/ha.
- Better juice quality of ratoon at higher irrigation levels
than at lower levels.
- Under deficient soil moisture conditions even one irrigation
to ratoon gave distinctly higher yield than no irrigation.
- Plant crop should be adequately manured and irrigated if good
ratoon is aimed at.
- Ratoons due to their reduced vigour, are more prone to
pests and diseases than the plant crop
- Several of the insect pests are carried over to the ratoons
through crop residues. Therefore a pest free plant crop ensures
a better ratoon.
- Even ratooning may be avoided if the infestation is high.
- In case diseases are not allowed to appear and build up in
plant crop, ratoons also remain disease free.
- But if proper care is not taken to keep plant crop free from
diseases, particulary redrot, smut, wilt and grassy shot,
ratoons of varieties suceptible to these diseases often get
- Incidence of insect pests also gets multiplied and carried
over through subsequent ratoons if not kept under control
inplant or proceeding ratoon fields.
- In calcareous
soils iron chlorosis is a problem.
- This is more pronounced in ratoons.
- Due to ratoon chlorosis higher mortality of shoots
is observed despite higher initial sprouting leading
to poor population.
- Spray at 0.25% concentration of Ferrous sulphate along
with 10% urea at weekly intervals control chlorosis.
Ratoons for fodder
- During the months of June, July and August, extra shoots
of ratoon crop could be removed and used as green fodder.
- Such removal of extra tillers could be done twice during the
- Removal of extra tillers keeping their number limited only
to 4 to 6 per shoot enhance the yield.
Ratoon as seed
- Ratoons are in favoured as a source of seed material due
to possible carry-over of diseases and pests from ratoons.