Sugarcane Seed Germination, Time, Temperature, Process

Introduction to Sugarcane seed germination

Sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) is the world’s most important sugar-producing crop and it belongs to the Poaceae family of true grasses. It is a tropical and perennial grass which attains a length of about 10 to 20 feet. Sugarcane employs over a million people directly or indirectly besides contributing significantly to the national exchequer. It is the main source of sugar in India and holds a prominent position as a cash crop. Sugarcane is a very important commercial crop, which is the basic raw material for the manufacture of sugar. In this article we also discussed below topics;

  • How do you germinate Sugarcane
  • Sugarcane seed germination temperature
  • How do you germinate Sugarcane seeds
  • How long do Sugarcane seeds take to germinate
  • The germination process of Sugarcane seed
  • Sugarcane germination period

A step by step guide to Sugarcane seed germination

Different varieties of Sugarcane

Co.419 – It has several good qualities and it is still grown in some sugar factory areas. This variety is cross between old variety POJ 2878 and Co 290. The cane size is big and green in color. It is good for ratooning.

Co.740 – It is very popular with the Sugarcane growers. This crane variety is developed from double-crosses between (Co 421 & Co.440) and (Co.464 & Co. 440). The cane color is greenish-yellow and the various flower late with sparse flowering.

Co 7219 (Sanjeevani) – It is a cross between Co.449 and Co 658. The leaves are long and broad and yellowish-green. Cane is of medium size and there is a depression on the higher side of eye-buds. The variety matures early and good yielders. The cane lodges but does not break and it is good for crushing in the early part of the crushing season.

Co.M 7125 (Sampada) – It is obtained through a cross between Co 740 and Co 775. The cane and sugar yields are about 110 MT and 13.5 MT respectively. It is tolerant of smut disease.

Co-7527 – It is a cross between Co-62175 and Co.658. The leaves are broad and drooping down. The color of the leaves is dark green; the cane is big. Internodes are long and bigger towards eye-bud.

Co 88121 – This is obtained through a cross between Co.740 and Co.6806. Cane is medium size and purple colored. The yield of cane is about 115 to 166 MT and that of sugar is 14.30 to 23.0 MT.

Co 8014 (Mahalaxmi) – It is a cross between Co 740 and Co 6304. The yield of cane changes from 98 to 135 MT and that of sugar from 14.11 to 19.48 MT.

Co 86032 (Nira) – The sugar content is about 19 to 20%. The yield of cane changes from 106 to 159 MT in different seasons and that of sugar from 14.55 to 22.42.

Co C 671 – This is obtained by crossing Q 63 and Co 775. It is popular among the farmers due to its good qualities. The yield potential is about 265 MT.

Co C 85061 – It is early maturing variety yield potential is about 187.5 MT. Cane size is medium, leaves are dark green and the cane color is greenish-white.

Co- 8011– It has little delayed maturity and it is suitable for the medium type of soil. Yield potential is about 150 MT and sugar recovery 12.5%.

Co M 7114 – It is of medium duration and also good for planting after November. Yield potential about 138 MT.

Co- S.I.776 – It matures in 11 months and growth is fast. Size of cane is small, there are cracks on internodes, leaves are thin, green in color, and eye-buds are round and small. Yield potential is about 150 MT.

Sugarcane seed selection

  • Healthy seed material, free from pests and diseases like red rot, wilt, smut, and ratoon stunting, etc and 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 seed sowing.
  • The bottom portion of cane is rich in sugar and takes a long time in germination; this must be used in jaggery making.
  • If the only upper half of the cane is utilized for planting, comparatively higher seed germination is secured.
  • Seed cane must be taken from the well mannered, erect, and healthy crop of not more than 10-12 months age.
  • Ratoon crop is not suitable for seed purpose as these canes can carry the disease of the previous crop.
  • For best results, separate crop nurseries must be raised specially for producing seed-canes under good crop management. Special precautions must be taken against disease and pest control.

Seed preparation for Sugarcane

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Sugarcane Seedlings in Nursery beds.
Sugarcane Seedlings in Nursery beds.

Before planting, the dry plant leaves of the cane stalks are removed by hand to avoid any possible damage to buds. Thereafter cane is cut into three budded setts generally 30 to 40 cm long.

Simple measures to ensure higher seed germination is;

  • Using disease-free healthy setts obtained from a nursery crop.
  • Using three eye bud setts instead of single eye bud setts and careful preparation of setts without damaging the buds.
  • Soaking setts in saturated lime water, planting freshly prepared and treated setts. Giving light and frequent irrigation during the seed germination phase.
  • Trash mulching under moisture stress and hot weather and late-planted conditions.
  • Control of weeds through pre-emergence herbicides.
  • Seed treatment using a fungicide.

Sugarcane seed germination time and temperature

Under field conditions, seed germination starts from 7 to 10 days and usually lasts for 30-35 days. The temperature for Sugarcane seed germination ranging from 18 to 42°C.

The Sugarcane plant distance

To get a higher yield of setts a slightly narrower spacing is useful. Space should be 75cm between the rows. To facilitate mechanization in Sugarcane cultivation, wide row planting adopting a spacing of 150 cm is becoming popular. Further improve the Sugarcane yield under wide rows, a new technology; ‘dual row planting’ has been developed. Broad furrows are formed at a spacing of about 150 cm and in the middle of the furrows, Sugarcane setts are planted in 2 rows adopting a spacing of 30 cm between them.

Sugarcane germination phase

  • The germination phase is from planting to the completion of the germination of buds. When cultivated commercially, Sugarcane is propagated only vegetative by stem parts (Cuttings) or by whole stems.
  • Seed propagation is employed only in selection and planting cuttings should have at least three buds.
  • The sprouting phase (the beginning is marked by 10% and the complete stage by 75% of sprouts) is thought to commerce when 2 leaves appear on the stem. The germination starts from 7 to 10 days and usually lasts for about 30-35 days.
  • In Sugarcane, seed germination denotes activation and subsequent sprouting of the vegetative bud. The germination of bud is influenced by external factors as well as internal factors. Some of the external factors are soil moisture, soil temperature, and aeration. The internal factors are bud health, sett moisture, sett reducing sugar content, and sett nutrient status.
  • The optimum temperature for sprouting is around 28 to 30°C. The base temperature for seed germination is about 12°C. Warm, moist soil ensures rapid seed germination.
  • Germination results in increased respiration and good soil aeration are important. So, open structured porous soils facilitate better germination. Under field conditions, about 60 percent of germination can be considered safe for raising a satisfactory crop.

The seed rate and treatment of Sugarcane

At 90 cm row to row spacing and 12 setts /meter long row, seed requirement per acre can be 35-45 quintals.

Soil-borne disease-causing microbes, generally fungi, gain entry into the setts through the cut ends following planting. This leads to sett rotting and damage to buds and failure of germination. The sett rot occurs generally due to pineapple disease. Therefore to guard against such diseases, sett treatment using a fungicide is necessary.

For sett treatment usually, organo-mercurial compounds were used. ‘Bavistin’ a systemic fungicide is currently recommended. A 0.1% solution is recommended. This can be prepared by dissolving the chemical @1 g/lit of water. Thus to prepare 100 liters of seed treatment solution about 100 g of chemical is required. The setts must be dipped in the solution for about 5 minutes. A half drum can be used for preparing the solution and sett treatment should be done soon after cutting. Most Sugarcane farmers do not treat the setts before planting. This is why in most cases, germination is around 40 percent. Germination of 60 percent can be easily achieved by sett treatment which is quite simple and cheap.

Sugarcane seed treatment with heat therapy;

Depending upon climatic conditions that affect germination and tillering, the seed rate varies from about 25,000 to 45,000 three budded setts per hectare.  To prevent the seed setts being attacked by fungal diseases and also to improve seed germination, the seed setts are dipped into 0.5 percent solution of Agallol (3%) or 0.25 percent solution of Aretan (6%) before planting for 10 minutes. Seed may be treated with a 0.1% solution of Carbendazim for 10 minutes before planting.

Aretan improves germination and keeps off fungal attack as gamma BHC keeps away the termites and shoots borers. In hot water treatment unit seed canes are treated at 50ºC for 2 to 2.5 hours. This is an effective method in controlling seed-borne pathogens.

Sowing methods of Sugarcane

Trench planting – Trenches can be made with a tractor-drawn ridge and put the sets in dry furrows (Trenches) of about 20-25 cm depth and put light soil on sets about 4 to 5 cm irrigate the furrows up to half and keep the upper half furrow dry. When the field reaches at saturation level close the furrows with a spade or other tool and give planking thereafter. Then, the crop will be protected from lodging also.

Planting of two-row tractor operated Sugarcane cutter planter is economic and can plant 2 to 3 acres/day. The complete Sugarcane is cut automatically into pieces before dropping into furrows. Fertilizers and chemicals are applied simultaneously. The length of the sets varies from 23 to 42 cm. Then, the seed rate varies from 32-35quintal/acre.

Paired row trench planting – It can be followed to save irrigation water, higher cane yield, easy propping up operation, and reduced lodging. Plant 2 rows of Sugarcane in 30 cm broad and 20 to 25 cm deep trenches. The distance between the two trenches must be 90 cm. Place the cane sets at the bottom of the trenches and cover with the soil left in between 2 rows. Trenches can be made with tractor operated trencher.

Sugarcane planting procedure

The survival rate of the Sugarcane is almost 100% because the Sugarcane seeds have already germinated and the cost is reduced as uniform plantation is done. Dependence on chemical inputs is reduced because the Sugarcane is planted when it is already 1 foot long. At least 1 month or more can be saved in the crop cycle which saves costs. Due to the reduction of the crop cycle, labor charges are saved. The yield is improved up to 10% due to uniform plantation and this results in uniform exposure to sun and air. With this technique, good quality seeds can be produced at a lesser cost.

  • First, purchase a Sugarcane stalk that contains at least one bud.
  • Till the soil to break up the surface, and make furrows in the soil for each row of Sugarcane you are planting. Dig the furrows about 4 to 6 inches deep, and keep each row at least 4 feet apart.
  • Apply fertilizer to the plot and use 1 pound of 8-8-8 fertilizer for every 10 feet of furrow length. The 8-8-8 numbers signify the ratio of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in the fertilizer.
  • Cut the stalk into pieces 6 inches long. Make sure each piece has at least one bud; this can help improve seed germination. Add 2 inches of soil on top of the fertilizer in the furrows.
  • Lay the stalks down into the furrows and it doesn’t matter which direction the buds face, as they naturally break through the surface of the soil. Cover the stalks with a layer of loosely packed soil between 2 to 5 inches deep. Then, add enough water to the soil to keep it damp, but not soaking wet.
  • Add soil to the furrows as the Sugarcane grows through the soil until the furrow becomes elevated. Continue to water the plants. Once the height of the stalks reaches about 6 to 8 inches, begin adding more water, as the stalks can withstand standing pools of water for short amounts of time.

The yield of Sugarcane per acre

The expected average yield of Sugarcane shall be 350-400 quintals /acre.

Commonly asked questions about Sugarcane cultivation

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Sugarcane cultivation.
Sugarcane cultivation.
Which month is the best for planting sugarcane and why?

For good yields, planting must be completed up to 20th October. Delay in planting can cause a reduction in yield as the germination of sugarcane is reduced due to low temperature in late planting. Spring cane is planted in February-March.

Which soil is best for sugarcane?

Sugarcane can be grown an all types of soils ranging from sandy loam to clay loam soil. It, however, sugarcane thrives best on well-drained soils.

How can we increase sugarcane production?

Sugarcane crop yield can be improved by several factors that are a selection of location and varietal planning, maintaining optimum plant stand, timely planting, use of optimum row spacing and seed rate, seed treatment, development of water management practices, adoption of efficient weed management practices, and balanced use of fertilizers.

What is the best fertilizer for sugarcane?

As a grass, the number one nutrient essential when fertilizing sugarcane is nitrogen. Sugarcane is a heavy nitrogen user. Nitrogen must be applied at 60 to 100 pounds per acre.

How much time sugarcane is required for cultivation?

Depending upon the variety and sowing time it takes 12 to 18 months for sugarcane to mature.

In case if you miss this: Growing Sugarcane from Stalks, Cuttings.


  1. I wish to cultivate Pearl white variety of Buggery (Bird Seeds)
    for bird feed. Please advice from where I can purchase seeds for sowing/.germination and approximate time taken from planting to harvesting. Alo type of soil and recommended moth for planting.
    I am based in Sri Lanka,

    Thank you

  2. Very nice article with simple language and the cane growers can understand easily.. More such efforts would be appreciated. I am s sugarcane Physiologist based in Tamil Nadu, India


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