Soils And Climate


  • For achieving higher yields under a set of soil conditions, soil-plant relationships have to be understood from planting time itself upto harvesting stage and corrections for any defects, excesses or deficit have to be made immdiately.
  • Sugarcane is a management responsive crop and produces maximum biomass by making best use of sunlight under a set of management practices.
  • Soils differ considerably in their fertility and productivity.
  • By adopting suitable soil, fertilizer and crop management practices, it is possible to raise productivity levels of a given soil.
  • Usually, this is done by improving the physical and biological conditions of the soil through proper drainage, aeration, aggregation of soil particles, adding enough quantity of bulky organic matter and applying fertilizers by proper placement in balance from based on soil test values.
  • The soil-plant relationship centres around changes in soil moisture which in turn depends upon the irrigation practices adopted and the soil type in which the crop is allowed to grow.
  • The nutrient supply position of the soil is influenced by the level of organic matter in the soil, degree of microbial activity, changes in soil pH and status of soil moisture.
  • It is emphasised that efforts should not be concentrated only on to increase soil fertility but in building up soil productivity through preventing the development of conditions like salinity, alkalinity, compaction, infestation with weeds and deficiency of micro nutrients.

Soil requirement of Sugarcane

  • Sugarcane can be grown an all types of soils ranging from sandy loam to clay loam.
  • It, however, thrives best on well drained soils.
  • It can also be raised successfully on lighter soils provided there is adequate irrigation facilities and on heavy clays with proper drainage and addition of organic matter.
  • Saline, alkaline and acidic soils are not at all suitable for sugarcane.
  • For cultivation of sugarcane, the soils should be viewed both by their physical and chemical characteristics.

Physical characteristics

  • Physical characteristics of soil determines the water holding capacity and draining capacity of soil, aeration, soil temperature, root growth, availability of nutrients, microbial growth etc.
  • In light textured soils, the problem is poor water holding capacity and this can be improved by the addition of organic matter as well as soil amendments like tank silt.
  • Very frequent irrigations are required.
  • Sugarcane is not a suitable crop for light soils unless otherwise irrigation sources are available.
  • Heavy soils, though having very high water holding capacity, the problem is ill-drained conditions.
  • These soils can be beat utilized by providing proper drainage.
  • The soils best suited for any crop including sugarcane are medium textured soils.
  • They are equally good in water holding and draining characteristics.

Management of Sugarcane soils having sub-surface hard pans

  • The soils having the sub-surface hard pan occurred in the clay loam (Regur) soils in Nizam sagar Ayacut area at the depth of 22-40 cm.
  • The sub-surface hard pan may be developed due to formation of plough sole on medium textured soils where sugarcane is taken in rotation with puddled paddy; use of heavy machinery on moist soils, accumulation of clay in B horizon under sub-humid conditions; presence of kankar layers and shallow depth cultivation for longer periods.
  • The sub-surface hard pans are relatively impervious with the result that water stagrates on the soil surface after heavy rainfall or irrigation and the cane crop turns yellow due to oxygen stress.
  • The hard pans reduce infiltration rates, increase the run off, reduce the water storage capacity of the soil.
  • The pans restrict root growth into deeper layers and increase the lateral spread of roots. Shallow root system makes the plant drought prone during dry spells and promotes lodging during unusually wet conditions.
  • Ultimately the hard pans restrict the water and nutrient supply and there by reduce the yield and quality of sugarcane crop.
  • The problem of sub-surface hard pan formation in clay loams can be solved by deep tillage and soil amendments.
  • The root penetration, juice quality and cane yield can be improved by deep ploughing (sub-soiling ) to break the pan and reduce the bulk density.
  • The beneficial effects of deep ploughing are expected to last atleast for three years as the deep and strong root system of sugarcane does not allow the compaction to develop.
  • The effect of the treatment began to diminish after third year and the effect of loosening of soil showed least persistence in soil with silt content, low clay content, low pH, inadequate drainage and higher proportions of kaolinite.
  • The problem of formation of sub-soil hard pan can be tackled by tillage or chiselling at 90 cm intervals upto 30 cm depth and by incorporation of gypsum @50q/ha or FYM @250q/ha.

Management of Sugarcane soils having surface crust

  • The impact of high intensity rain drops breakdown the soil aggregates over the soil surface.
  • The dispersed soil particles go into suspension, coarse particles start to settle out but fine ones remain in suspension.
  • As the water drains or evaporates, clay settle on the top of coarse particles, forming a crust on drying.
  • Formation of crust is a common feature in many soils particularly in the red sandy loam soils (Alfisols) locally called "Chalka" soils.
  • Surface crust are thin (2-3 mm) and are characterised by greater bulk density, finer pores and lower saturated conductivity than the underlying soils.
  • The thickness of the crust depends on the amount and type of clay and silt present in the soil.
  • Presence of kaolinite clay tends to form a thin crust which curls and breaks on drying but the montmorillonite type of clay tends to form a thick and hard crust.
  • The thickness of the crust increases with the increase of clay content.
  • It is to be noted that surface soil layers consists of 60 to 70 per cent coarse and 30-40 per cent fine fractions a proportionate optimum for crust formation when organic carbon is less than one per cent.
  • The surface crust allows to reduce the rate of infiltration, increase the run off, reduce the water storage capacity of the soil, increase the bulk density, and slows the soil-atmosphere gas exchange.
  • The crust restricts root spread and nutrient uptake, interfere with cane germination leading to poor initial crop stand thereby lower the cane yields.
  • The problem of surface crusting in sandy loam soils of A.P can be solved by frequent intercultivation, frequent light irrigations; mulching with straw or sugarcane trash after planting of cane., application of chemicals like phosphorus @80 to 200 kg/ha for 4 to 5 years and gypsum @3t/ha., incorporation of regur soils or tank silt in chalka soils., incorporation of slow decomposed organic materials like paddy husk, powdered groundnut shells and FYM in the soil and deep ploughing.
  • Some of the chalka soils in A.P. have some what shallow soils with surface crusts.
  • As cane is a deep rooted crop, these soils need deep ploughing for better root spread, water storage, juice quality and cane yields.
  • The deep ploughing should not, however, involve soil inversion which is likely to bring the infertile sub-soil /morrum to the surface thereby reducing the yield.

Salt concentration in Soils (pH)

  • Soil pH plays a major role in cane cultivation.
  • The salt concentra-tion of a soil is expressed in terms of electrical conductivity (EC) and this should not exceed 4 m.mhos/cm.
  • Under such high concentration of soil salts the plant will not get and cannot absorb sufficient soil moisture though there is sufficient water available in soil
  • In addition, if the sodium content is more in the soil the availability of potassium and magnesium to plant is drastically reduced leads to lower yields.
  • Sugarcane grown on alkali soils or irrigated with water having high concentration of salts, will have juices with low sucrose and they give trouble in processing for Jaggery making or sugar manufacture.
  • Internodal elongation and tillering were reduced in acid soil (pH=5.6).
  • In alkaline soils (pH=8.0) growth and tillering were poorer than in the neutral soil but better than in the acid soil.
  • Young shoots do not develop normally in saline soils and leaves are generally yellowish in tinge.
  • In extreme cases, the leaves become whitish with black patches of dead tissue, canes are stunted in growth and thin.
  • The clumps can be easily pulled out with their mass of short dead roots.
  • High salinity and compactness of soil leads to diseased roots as well as chloritic and stunted shoot growth with poor quality cane.
  • In general, sugarcane crop requires a well prepared, well structured and adequately aerated soil profile to a depth of atleast 40 to 60 cm without compaction, hard pan, lime band or salt zone in the sub soil.



  • Sugarcane is a tropical plant. It grows more successfully in those regions where the climate is more or less tropical but it can grow in sub tropics too as in north India.

Influence of Climate on Sugarcane

  • Climate playing an important role in the productivity of any crop particularly sugarcane, since the crop is on the field for almost one year.
  • Because of its long standing on the field, the crop has to face the changing climatic parameters of all the seasons in a year.
  • Hence, the climate is certainly influence the crop stand, growth, yield, quality of juice and finally sugar recovery.
  • Sugarcane needs speicfic weather conditions during different growth phases.
  • During active growth phase the weather conditions should be favourable for vegetative growth, which during ripening phase weather should be favourable for more sucrose accumulation.
  • An ideal climate for sugarcane should have two distinct weather conditions viz., (1) a growing season which is long and warm with adequate rainfall or irrigation, long hours of bright sun shine and higher relative humidity which permits rapid growth to build up adequate yield (more tonnage), (2) a ripening season of around 2-3 months duration having warm days, clear skies, cool nights and relatively a dry weather without rainfall and higher difference in day (maximum) and night (minimum) temperatures for build up of sugar.
  • However, such ideal conditions are not found in all sugarcane growing areas.
  • In order to get suitable climatic conditions during different physiological phases of sugarcane as mentioned above, the planting will be done in February, though the young and tender crio has to face higher temperatures during the following summer months.
  • If there are summer showers the crop establishment is extremely good.
  • A crop which is put up the required growth and drymatter by May can only best utilise the climatic conditions existing in June-July to September-October and such crop will give higher cane yield coupled with higher sugar recovery.

Weather parameter - cane growth and yield


  • Optimum cane growth is achieved in temperatures between 24 and 300 C.
  • A temperature less than 50 C is harmful even to resistant varieties.
  • Temperatures above 380 C reduce the rate of photosynthesis and increase respiration.
  • At temperatures above 350 C cane appears wilted irrespective of water supply.
  • During the active growth period, a minimum mean temperature of 200 C is required.
  • However, cane variety, irrigation and cultural practices can modify the influence.
  • Fluctuations in temperature have profound influence on sucrose accumulation.
  • A mean day temperature of 12 to 140 C would be highly desirable for proper ripening.
  • At higher temperatures reversion of sucrose into fructose and glucose may occur besides enhancement in photorespiration thus leading to less accumulation of sugars.


  • In India sugarcane is grown in areas ranging in rainfall of about 600 mm to 3000 mm.
  • The crop can survive normal variation around a mean of 1200 mm. for obtaining higher yields, a rainfall of 2000 to 2500 mm per annum, evenly distributed is considered ideal.
  • During the active growth period rainfall encourages rapid cane growth, cane elongation and internode formation.
  • But during ripening period, it is not desirable as it leads to poor juice quality, encourage vegetative growth, formation of water shoots and increase in the tissue moisture.
  • It also hampers harvesting and transport operations.


  • The relative humidity does not have much influence, if water supply is not limiting.
  • Moderate values of 45 to 65 per cent coupled with limited water supply is favourable during the ripening phase.
  • However, high humidities coupled with warm weather favour vegetative growth.


  • Sugarcane is a sun loving plant.
  • Therefore, greater incident radiation (Sunshine) favours higher sugarcane and sugar yields.
  • About 7 to 9 hours of bright sunshine is highly useful both for active growth and ripening.
  • Areas with short growing period benefit from closer spacing to intercept higher amount of solar radiation and thus get higher yields.
  • But in areas with long growing season wider spacing is better to avoid mutual shading and mortality of shoots.


  • In some parts of the N-W Indian the problem of extreme cold weather conditions are confronted.
  • Severe cold weather inhibits bud sprouting in ratoons and arrests cane growth.
  • At temperature -10 to 20 C the cane leaves and meristem tissues are killed.


  • High velocity winds exceeding 60 km/hour are harmful to grown up canes leading to lodging and cane breakage.
  • Also leaves get damaged even at early stage.
  • Winds enhance moisture loss from the plants and thus aggravates the ill effects of moisture stress.
  • Sugarcane yields and sugar recovery in relation to climate in the country.
  • The sugarcane productivity and juice quality are profoundly influenced by weather parameters during the various growth phases of cane.
  • Data from three cane growing states (U.P, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu) indicates that Maharashtra records higher recoveries than the other two states.
  • In Maharashtra the period from November to March (the main crushing period) is dry with very less rainfall and low humidity and a lower daily mean temperature, the nights are cooler and the sunshine hours are greater.
  • The diurnal variations in temperature are also fairly wide.
  • These conditions favour higher sugar accumulation.
  • The latitudes between 150 and 200 north or south where ideal climatic conditions are met with record higher sucrose levels than the other latitudinal positions.
  • Maharashtra is situated in third position and thus achieves the highest recovery in the country.
  • Both Tamil Nadu and U.P are not in the favourable latitudinal positions.
  • In Tamil Nadu, the mean temperatures throughout the year are more favourable for vegetative growth and thus the yield are the highest in the country.
  • The ripening phase has a higher mean temperature, the diurnal temperature variations are narrow, the relative humidity is higher and the duration of sunshine is less.
  • These factors are not favourable for higher sugar build up.
  • In U.P, weather extremes are observed, very cold winter period follows very hot summer months.
  • The length of growing season is very much restricted to South-West monsoon and autumn months (June-November).
  • The restricted growth phase results in lower yield levels. Very low temperatures restricts sugar accumulation also.
  • This is why productivity levels are much less in sub-tropics. Therefore thermo insensitive varieties, if could be developed, are highly useful.

Sugarcane yields and Sugar recovery in relation to Climate in the State

  • Climatologically our state is located in the tropics between 12.60 and 19.80 N. latitude and 76.80 to 84.80 East longitude.
  • But even within this range, sugarcane is cultivated in areas differing widely in rainfall, temperature and soils.
  • This mostly accounts for differences in sugar recovery and the yield of cane per Ha. in different parts of the state.
  • Out of the 15 essential cane growing districts, 8 lie along the East Coast with sugarcane being cultivated within distances ranging from 15-25 miles from the coast.
  • The coastal areas are exposed to strong winds, frequent cyclonic storms and fairly high rainfall through both the S-W and N-E monsoons.
  • Being proximal to the sea, the region records high humidities.
  • The topography in these districts is mostly plain, rendering surface drainage of excess rain water difficult.
  • Sugarcane is cultivated in 5 out of these 8 coastal districts is mostly by flow irrigation while in other 3 districts, sugarcane receives uncertain irrigations from seasonal flow in the rivers.
  • Heavy rains during S-W/N-E monsoon in the period July to November coupled with copious flow irrigation from the river channels and the practice of rotating paddy crop with sugarcane, expose the crop in these coastal districts to ill-drained conditions over considerable areas leading to low yield of cane and sugar recovery.
  • Twenty four out of 32 sugar factories in the state are located in these districts and the sugar recovery tends to be low, ranging between 8.5 to 9.75 %, and occasionally exceeding 10%.
  • Lack of sharp winters and prevailing high humidities tend to keep the crop growing without allowing it to store sufficient sugar.
  • In addition, the crop is subjected to cyclonic winds during October-December cause lodging leads to low quality juice and poor sugar recovery.
  • Of the remaining seven cane growing districts, three (Nizamabad, Medak and Karimnagar) are located in the north-western region of the state, far remote from the coast.
  • Rainfall in these districts is mostly limited to S-W monsoon period and from October onwards cool, dry weather prevails.
  • The soils in this area are better-drained. Though rainfall is high the region is not exposed to strong winds or cyclonic storms.
  • Major area irrigated by flow irrigation and also by lift from open wells and also filter points, but ground water resources are also not adequate.
  • Because of early onset of dry cool weather there is cessation of growth from early in October leading to better sugar accumulation.
  • Sugar recovery in this area is between 10.0 to 11.5 %.
  • The rest of the area under cane is concentrated in the South-Western districts in the state (Chittoor, Anantapur, Cuddapah and Kurnool).
  • This area is also far remote from the coast and the climatic conditions are almost intermediate between the other two regions.
  • Rainfall is sparce upto August-September and most rains received in the N-E monsoon period and at times it extends upto Dec-Jan.
  • This enables continued growth but affects recovery.
  • There is no major river valley project to ensure irrigation to the crop and they have to entirely depends upon rainfed tanks with uncertain supplies or on the sparce ground-water supplies.
  • The crop gets inadequate irrigations in summer and is drought affected.
  • The sugar recovery is around 9.0 to 10.0 %.
  • In almost all the regions, summer irrigation to cane crop (May to Mid June) is a problem as in canal fed areas also, canals are closed for maintenance works.
  • In areas dependant on ground water, underground water supplies gets depleted.

Based on climatic conditions prevailed and types of soils and irrigation resources existing:

    1.   Coastal regions tend to keep the crop growing (moretonnage) without allowing it to store sufficient sugar       (less sucrose per cent)
    2.   In Telangana region where cane is grown, there is cessation of growth from early in October (less       tonnage) leading to better sugar accumulation (high sucrose per cent)
    3.   In Rayalaseema region the crop enables continued growth (if sufficient irrigation is available) and also       for sucrose accumulation. But due to increased temperature from March onwards cause reduction in       sucrose content of cane.Cane yield and sugar recovery depends on rainfall, humidity, temperatures and       light. However, temperature and duration of light controls several metabolic activities of sugarcane as       follows:

Bud germination

  • For maximum bud germination the optimum soil temperature should be in between 34-380 C.
  • There is reduction in bud germination upto 190 C and absolutely no germination is seen if the soil temperature touches 100 C.
  • In Telangana districts normally at the time of planting the soil temperatures are low and hence, deep planting of sugarcane setts is necessary (atleast 5 cm soil layer should be there on the planted setts) for better germination.

Root development

  • Optimum soil temperature for better root growth and spread is about 300 C. If the temperature falls to 120 C and below, there is drastic reduction in root growth.
  • Crop which exposed for more period of sun shine showed better root spread over shaded plants.


  • Intensity and duration of light affects tillering.
  • If the intensity reduced the tillering will be decreased.
  • Atmospheric temperature around 300 C encourages better tillering.
  • Soil temperature below 150 C cause reduction in tillering and the most optimum soil temperature for tillering is around 300 C.


  • There is gradual reduction in transpiration when the soil temperature falls below 280 C. though there is sufficient moisture in the soil.
  • This means the plants cannot take the soil moisture in required quantities.
  • Hence, light and frequent irrigations should be given in December-January to maintain optimum soil temperature and for higher transpiration rates for the winter transplanted crops.
  • Transpiration rate is drastically reduced on cloudy days which in turn reduced the uptake of nutrients.

Cane growth

  • Cane growth rate is higher from June to October because of intermittant rains coupled with higher temperatures and less growth was observed from November onwards due to reduced temperatures.
  • The rate of growth is higher during nights over day time.
  • If the air temperature is below 210 C the rate of growth is minimum.
  • Plants which receives bright solar radiation for a longer period thick canes with broader and dark green leaves.
  • Plants received less solar radiation produce lean, long canes with narrow leaves and the stems contain more moisture.
  • Regions of more cloudy days recorded low cane yield, less sucrose per cent in juice, poor quality juice, less recovery.
  • In addition, more period of cloudy conditions increase the nitrogen and potash contents in juice.
  • Sugarcane plants cannot utilize the applied nitrogen and potash fully when the intensity as well as duration of light reduced.
  • Application of nitrogen during cloudy period enhance the bad effect on the plants.


  • Duration of light determines the flowering in cane.

Quality of Juice

  • Cool and dry climate favours in increasing sucrose per cent in juice.
  • Higher sucrose content and quality of juice can be obtained when the night temperature are low for 2-3 months before cutting.
  • Reduction in duration of light reduce the accumulation of sucrose in cane.
  • Reduction in night temperatures over day temperatures helps in more sucrose accumulation.
  • This means if there is wider differences between day (max) and night (min) temperatures there is more sucrose accumulation in cane.

Utilization of solar radiation - cane yield

  • Yields of several crops including sugarcane depends on interception and utilization of light. interception of light depends on leaf area and leaf arrangement of the plant.
  • This means the interception and unilization of light depends on LAI, Leaf area duration.
  • In sugarcane the maximum interception and utilization takes place when the LAI approaches five and beyond five the increase is limited. The interception and utilization is almost double in sugarcane when compared with other crops like rice, wheat etc.
  • This is one of the reasons for high drymatter production in sugarcane. Yield of any crop depends on efficiency of solar energy utilization (Eu) and efficiency of conversion of absorbed energy (E). E values of sugarcane and paddy are 2.41 and 2.55 respectively. This means Efficiency of conversion of absorbed energy in sugarcane and paddy is almost same.
  • But efficiency of solar energy utilization (Eu) in sugarcane is 1.39 whereas for paddy is 0.825.
  • This means sugarcane utilized maximum solar radiation but not low efficiently it utilized the intercepted energy.
  • However, there is need to develop the cane varieties having higher values of both E and Eu.

Insects - diseases

  • Light and temperature helps in plant growth. similarly both the climatological parameters influence the pest, disease outbreak and their spread as well as their control.
  • Optimum soil temperature for initiation of smut on sugarcane is 250 C and for its spread 25-300 C air temperature is very optimum.
  • At tillering stage if the air temperatures are high, the spread of smut is also high.
  • Similarly the spread of red rot disease is higher at higher temperatures (37-400 C) when all other conditions are similar.
  • Rust incidence is high when the minimum temperatures are drastically reduced.
  • Shoot-fly incidence is maximum in summer when the air temperatures are very high.
  • Also higher shoot fly incidence was observed when the difference between maximum (day) and minimum (night) temperature are low.


Management of Sugarcane in Salt affected Soils

  • Sugarcane is under cultivation in about 7-8lakh hectares of salt affected soils.
  • Since, sugarcane is some what tolerant to salinity and alkalinity.
  • Salt problem is experienced both in irrigated soils as well as in semi arid areas.

Specific effects on sugarcane

Germination failures

  • Reduced germination, delayed germination.

Reduced crop growth

  • Poor tillering, leaf burning and curling, reduced internode length, poor root growth and pithiness
  • Cane yield reduction even upto 50% or some times more.

Poor juice quality

  • Soluble salts accumulate in juice, reduce sugar content and thus lower recovery, milling problems like scaling in the evaporators.

Ratoon failures

  • Due to poor sprouting and subsequent growth.

Integrated reclamation methods

Physical amelioration

  • Deep ploughing, subsoiling, applicatin of sand, profile inversion, promotion of drainage.

Chemical amelioration

  • Adding suitable amendments to replace sodium with calcium, and removes carbonates and bicarbonates with sulphate, common amendments used are gypsum, basic slag, phosphogypsum, press mud and pyrites.

Biological amelioration

  • Use living or dead organisms, organic matter, green manuring.

Adding agricultural water

  • Groundnut shells, safflower hull, coir pith waste, rice husk etc.

Agronomic practices

  • Higher, seed rate to ensure adequate initial population, trench planting, additional nutrition (25% extraN) and its proper method of application.

Using of varieties suitable for salt affected soils

  • Co82-8, Co8145, Co7717, Co85004, Co85007, Coc671, Co6806, Co86032

Management of Sugarcane under acid soils

  • Usually acid soils are found in high rainfall areas and in soils where organic matter content is high.
  • Sugarcane crop grown in such soils may express deficiency symptoms of either calcium, phosphorous, or molydeneum.
  • There could be toxicity of iron, aluminimum and manganese.
  • Phosphorous starvation also experienced in plant.
  • In sugarcane tillering, shoot elongation and growth are affected due to nutritional problem thus causing poor cane yield and juice quality.
  • Lining is the most important practice in the acid soils to improve productions. The general lime requirements as follows.
    1. 1.  Sandy soils 450-675 kg/ha every 2 years
      2.  clay loams 1800-2250 kg/ha every 3-4years
      3.  clay soils 2700-3600 kg/ha every 4-5years.
      4.  Bone meal and rock phosphates are well suited to acid soils to supply phosphorous