Sugarcane requires good seed bed. A good soil on
land preparation approach should involve the following essential steps.
Management of preceeding crop residues
Tillage (ploughing, harrowing, sub soiling etc)
Incorporation of organic manures
Field layout as per planting methods
Management of Preceeding Crop Residues
Land preparation for sugarcane starts with clearing the preceeding
In tropical India, in many areas sugarcane is planted after paddy.
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
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 incoporated with the soil.
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 preceeding
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 preceeding 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
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 incoporated through a rotavator.
Tillage operations through tractor drawn implements are most ideal
and quick. But larger fields are preferred for tractor operations.
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 preferable.
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 incoporates 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
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 ratoons.
A fairly leveled field is important to ensure a uniform crop stand.
If the field is uneven, there will not be proper distribution of irrigation
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 year.
For sustainable sugarcane production the importance of organic matter
needs no emphasis.
If the organic matter opplied 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 decompostion 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 is irrigated.
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 spacing.
An additional line may be planted in every 10th row as material for
The life irrigation is given on 3rd or 4th
day. After 10-15 days, the gap filling is done using the setllings planted
on the 10th row.
This technique may not be suitable during dry weather. Proper irrigation
management till setllings establish is very important.
Poly bag seedling transplanting
This technique is also more or less same as STP technique.
Here th seedlings are raised in perforater 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,
arround 95-99%, as there is no damage to the root system.
In this method, a small pit is dug out at specified spacing
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 chpped off using a bud chipping machine.
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
Also good earthing up is possible so that lodging could be cheeked.
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 etc.
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 is
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 tillering varieties.
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 is followed.
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 appropriately.
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 fields.
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 soil moisture.
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
In this system U-shaped furrows or trenches of 25-30 cm. deep are
made mostly using spade and heaping clods maually. 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 simulataneously 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
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 systerm 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 exess 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 weatering of soil, shallow furrows are to be
made for planting sugarcane.
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 period.
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
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
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 cm. gaps.
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 obtained.
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
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
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.
Synchronous tillering leading to uniformly matured stalk population
which usually gives better sugar recovery.
Sufficient time availability to prepare the main field.
Saving of 2-3 irrigations.
Possibility of increased cane yield.
Better weed managemement
Efficient fertilizer management.
Raised bed nursery tenchnique
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
There setts are treated with Bavistin. The prepared beds are thoroughly
soaked with water. The setts are pushed vertically into the soil 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
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 to dry.
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 sugercane diseases are seed - borne
and transmitted through seed setts.
But since cane growers in India use their own commercial crop for
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
Ideal cane sett
Ultimate plant stand and yield depends on the type of
seed material used. The characteristics of good seed cane material are
free from disease and pest infestation
age of seed crop is around eight months
seeds should have healthy buds without any damage in handling
Buds with higher moisture content, adequate nutrients, higher
amount of reducing sugars.
cane should be free from aerial roots and splits.
pure in quality.
A sugarcane crop raised exclusively for seed purpose is known as "short
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
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
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 safe.
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 uniform.
But while the spacing is widened, it is advisable to put whole seed
cane per unit row length.
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 of planting.
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 soil.
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
In this system first basal matures-usually phosphatic fertilizers
in placed in the furrow bottom and mixed sligully with the soil, then
treated setts are placed either in end-to-end or in an over-lapping
"End-to-end" placement of setts is followed when the seed
rate is lower and the internodal length of hte 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 irrigater first and the furrow bottom soil is brought to a more
or less puddled conditoin 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 budds 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 spcial situations
e.g., the modified botch system in saline soils and satine water irrigation,
the 'partha method' under water logged conditions etc.
In India, sugarcane planting and harvesting operations coincide in
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.
Three important diseases are carried forward through seeds.
They are ratoon stunting disease (RSD), grassy shoot disease (GSD)
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 cane department.
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
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 is achieved.
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 minute
The treatment is at 500C for 1 hour.
In all these treatment plants, thermostats are provided for controlling
It must be noted that heat-therapy is not the business of the farmer.
It must be the work of the sugar factory or any other seed producing
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 planting.
Primary seed and primary nursery
From identified seed plots, setts are prepared and carefully examined
for any cavities or reddening and such setts are removed.
Then the setts the heat treated by any one of the heat therapy methods.
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
At around 8months, these are not cut and planted for further multiplication.
The primary nursery is harvested at around 8 months and planted for
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 sugarcane planting.
Also, "Short Crops" can be raised using commercial nursery
Once heat treated, the seed will remain free of diseases for about
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
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
Soil should be without problems like alkalinity, salinity, waterlogging
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 planting.
To get a higher yield of setts a slightly narrower spacing may be
advantageous. The spacing therefore could be 75cm between the rows.
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 is suggested.
The fertlizer may be given in 3splits as follows.
Applied in the furrow bottom
1/3N + 1/3K
Band placement, close to the
rows and partially earthed up.
1/3N + 1/3K
Applied to the base and slightly
1/3N + 1/3K
Applied to the base and fully
Each manuring should be done after weeding and manuring should be followed
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 yield.
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 day soil.
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 sprayer.
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
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, particularly fungi.
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
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
The implement used must be sterilized.
There should be minimum time gap between harvest and planting.
Ikisan - Cultural Opertaion involved in Sugarcane Cultivation
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 is followed.
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
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
All advantages due to earthing up listed are also seen in wet earthing
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 common.
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
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
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
Lodging leads to several problems
Cane breakage and thus loss of stalk number at harvest (loss in cane
Lodged canes are easily infested by certain pests and diseases.
damage by rats and rodents.
bud sprouting leads to reduced cane quality
aerial root formation affects cane quality
difficult to irrigate and harvest the crop.
To prevent lodging the following operations can be taken
Heavy earthing up
Propping by trash twisting
Paired row planting with earthing up or propping the paired rows.
Deep trench planting
Selection of varieties resistant for lodging
Raising wind breaks along the field broder.
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
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
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 crop.
This crop is called ratoon crop.
Ratoons account for a sizeable share to total sugarcane production
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 cane production.
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 ratooning capacity.
Early maturing varieties are poor in ratooning than mid late or late
Thin and medium thin varieties give better ratoons than thick varieties.
Varieties of high yield potential as plant crops may give better ratoons.
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,
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
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 level.
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
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
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
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
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 yields.
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 harvesting.
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 best results.
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 was sprayed.
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
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
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 severely damaged.
Incidence of insect pests also gets multiplied and carried over through
subsequent ratoons if not kept under control inplant or proceeding ratoon
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 entire
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.