Sugar Cane

Sugar Cane (Saccharum officinarum)

This is a perennial grass species with a sugary stem that can be chewed on, or refined into sugar. In North Florida, it has historically been used to make (cane) syrup.                     It enjoys moist soil that is high in organic matter, and if you can get it, clay. I have been advised to fertilize it with “tobacco” fertilizer with an N-P-K of 4-8-12.  If you just use lots of manure, you should be ok.  Make sure you have plenty of lime in the soil too. In our area, sugar cane is historically harvested as the first frost of the year approaches.  The leafy area on the top and the old leaves are stripped from the canes, and the canes are buried under piles of this refuse (called shucks) to keep them safe from the frost until they can be ground for juice, and the juice boiled into syrup.             The roots will re-sprout the following spring. Apparently the crop is best the first or second or third years after planting, but yields decline after that, and by about seven years tops, the roots should be dug up, and the crop replanted. Propagating is easy.  Use whole canes or pieces that include at least a whole internode section (with a node at both ends), and plant them in trenches about six inches deep.

2 comments to Sugar Cane

  • Jeannie

    I just wanted to let you know that it is fantastic grilled, too. You shouldn’t swallow it, of course, but the flavor is worth the trouble! Cooked in oil, it tastes like any other delectable grilled vegetable, since what makes other grilled veggies so tasty is their caramelized sugars. Cooked in butter, the flavor leans more toward a toasted marshmallow. They make fantastic BBQ skewers!

  • thanks for the great tip jeannie!

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