Sugar cane belongs to the bamboo family of plants and is the main source of gur, khandsari and sugar. It provides raw material for producing industrial alcohol. Bagasse, the residue after the cane is crushed, can be used in the making paper, fibre-board, etc.
India is known as the original home of sugar cane. India has the largest area under sugar cane cultivation and its production is also the highest in the world. However, the yield per hectare is low, when compared with Java, Cuba and Hawaii. Sugar cane holds an enviable position among all the cash crops due to its production value.
i. Sugar cane needs a long growing season of about 10 months.
ii. Sugar cane, being a tropical plant, needs a hot and moist climate.
iii. Average temperature during the growing period should be about 20 °C to 30 °C.
iv. The bright sunshine after the rainfall increases the juice content in sugar cane.
v. The average annual rainfall should range between 100 cm and 150 cm.
vi. Sugar cane grows well in the irrigated lands with abundant sunshine.
vii. Sugar cane needs a long frost-free growing season. Cool weather is good at the time of ripening. It needs a dry period before harvesting. Hot dry winds are very harmful.
viii. Sugar cane can grow on a variety of soils that can retain moisture, but deep, well-drained, rich loamy soil is ideal for its growth.
ix. Sugar cane exhausts the soil’s fertility. Hence, continuous use of manures and chemical fertilisers is essential.
x. Cheap and abundant labour is necessary, as most of the work, such as sowing, hoeing, weeding, irrigating, cutting and carrying sugar cane to the factories is done manually.
xi. Cheap and adequate transport is needed, at the time of harvest, to transport the cut cane immediately to sugar mills.