Top 24 Steps to Boost Sugarcane Yield: How to Increase Production, Size, and Quality

Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) is a perennial grass belonging to the Poaceae family. Sugarcane yield reacts strongly to temperature, solar radiation, and soil conditions. However, temperature and radiation are beyond human control in the open field. Therefore, drip irrigation plays an essential role. It controls every drop of water flowing towards the crop at the right time, with high quality of production and high sucrose content, and extends the plant life. Let’s check out the top 24 steps to boost Sugarcane yield.

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Sugarcane growers always look for higher yields, higher profits, higher sucrose content, a longer life, and lower operational costs. Drip irrigation is a solution, so Sugarcane growers upgrade their farms for drip irrigation. This commercial crop is propagated mainly by cuttings of mature plants called “sets.” For best Sugarcane production, choose a standard, high-yielding, disease-free environment for maximum production. Follow these simple steps to get more yield in Sugarcane;

Top 24 steps to boost Sugarcane yield

Step 1: Soil management for crop yield

Sugarcane can grow on various soils, including loam, clayey loam, black cotton soil, brown or reddish loam, and even laterites. Sugarcane can tolerate any soil that retains moisture. But deep-filled clay is best for its growth. Sugarcane can tolerate any soil that retains moisture. But deep-filled clay is best for its growth. Nitrogen, Calcium, and Phosphorus are essential nutrients for good Sugarcane production. Therefore, optimal nutrition can help improve Sugarcane production. 

Step 2: Select high yield Sugarcane variety 

  • Co 0238 (Karan 4) is a high-yielding and high sugar content type derived from Cross Co LK 8102 x Co 775.
  • Co-15023 is a high-sugar and high-yielding Sugarcane type. 
  • Co Pant 12221, normal Sugarcane (Co Pant 12226), and Co Pant 13224 other high yielding varieties. 
  • CoLk 94184 (Birendra) – This variety is a high-yielding variety of skin ripening with a rare combination of two qualities of skin maturity and good rattan. It yields 75-80 tons per hectare in plant crops and more than 70 tons per hectare in rattan crops. 
  • Co 86032 (Nayana) is a fantastic variety; Co 86032 was developed at Sugar Cane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore, and was recommended for the peninsular zone. It has rapidly occupied more than 40% of the territory in each of the states of Tamil Nadu (80%) and Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. It has a high yielding (120 tons per hectare), high sucrose mid-late type, and good ratooning capacity.

Step 3: Planting process to increase Sugarcane production

Different planting systems do not affect the viable Sugarcane population, commercial Sugarcane production, or yield. 

  • Irrigate the furrows to make mud in wet conditions (heavy soil)  
  • Adjust the 12 buds/meter length, and place the setts between the furrows. 
  • Gently press the buds and fertilizer under the soil in the lateral position.
  • Avoid exposing the setts to sunlight. 
  • Add more setts near the channel or double row in every 10th row to fill the gap in the next step. 
  • The dry planting method can be followed in dry / garden land. 
  • Arrange the setts first, cover the seats with soil and then irrigate.

In case you missed it: Best Fertilizer for Sugarcane: Organic, Biofertilizers, NPK, Compost Manure, and Schedule

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Step 4: Seed rate and spacing for improving yield

About 24,000 (2-budded setts) or 16,000 (3-budded setts) plants are required per acre under paired-row planting. Row-to-row spacing for Sugarcane varies from 90 to 120 cm depending on the soil texture.

Step 5: Essential nutrients cane growth

Nitrogen, Calcium, and Phosphorus are the essential nutrients required for good Sugarcane production. Optimal nutrition can help improve Sugarcane production. Suitable manure is necessary for sustainable high yields.

The recommendation in most places is to apply half to two-thirds of the nitrogen in the form of large organic fertilizers like farm manure, manure, green manure, or tree leaves, and the rest in the form of ammonium sulfate or oil cakes or a combination of both. Sugarcane fertilizer is recommended according to the planting season and varies with the growth path. 

Step 6: Nutrients to increase Sugarcane production 

The essential nutrients play a specific role in improving yields;

  • Nitrogen is necessary for high yields, and it increases crop growth and development, leading to more vital crops. 
  • Phosphorus is essential for root growth, early shoot growth, and cultivation, maximizing early yields, and increasing the length of internodes. 
  • Potassium, like nitrogen, also promotes strong Sugarcane growth, long internode growth, and extensive Sugarcane growth and production. 
  • Magnesium, sulfur, and iron increase photosynthetic activity while maintaining moderate growth for high yields. 
  • Calcium ensures good plant strength and protects root, leaf, and stalk production, thus maintaining early crop structure and yield. 
  • The unavailability of any micronutrients will also limit the development process and subsequent production. For example, boron and zinc are key nutrients in the Sugarcane crop that contribute to strong roots and shoot growth.

Step 7: Tips to ensure better plant growth and productivity

Nutrition requirements for Sugarcane plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, and silicon. The exact amount of these nutrients depends on your soil, but at least this is where to start. The pH of the soil will affect the plant’s ability to absorb and absorb nutrients, and for best results, it must be 6.5 to 7.5. The water needs vary depending on agricultural climatic conditions, soil type, planting methods, fertilizer, and sugarcane production.

Dry winds and hot weather associated with drought increase crop water requirements. Sugarcane fertilizer requirements are more complex than other crops because of their longevity. Plants respond well to nitrogen fertilizers and result in a significant increase in yield. The need for nitrogen fertilizers changes depending on the potential Sugarcane production and the nitrogen reserves in the soil.

Step 8: Mulching to improve the crop yield

In the early days of mulching, paddy straw or spreading Sugarcane waste in the field will reduce evaporation and thus improve the yield and reduce the demand for crop water. 

Step 9: How to increase Sugarcane production

  • From an agricultural point of view, a farmer can do a lot to maximize Sugarcane production. Adequate crop nutrition is an essential factor in achieving this. To a large extent, the nutrients that boost Sugarcane production will also improve the sugar content and quality of the harvested Sugarcane crop. Selection of specific site types and variety planning, maintaining the best plant stand, timely planting, maximum spacing in rows and seed rate, development of water management methods, and weed management.
  • Sugarcane production can be improved by adopting efficient fertilizer methods and balanced use of manures. 
  • Adoption Gibberellin is a plant hormone that regulates growth and stems length and helps seed germination and elongation. In addition, though, Gibberellin stimulates inter-nodule elongation in Sugarcane, increasing its yield. 

In case you missed it: Organic Sugarcane Farming, Production Practices

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Step 10: Tips to get a high yield of Sugarcane 

High Sugarcane yields are achieved only if farmers follow all the cultivation stages. The Sugarcane crop is sensitive to climate, soil type, irrigation, fertilizer application, pest and disease control, and harvest season. Below are the key points to consider for good yield;

  • Keep the crop in rotation – The best predecessor for the Sugarcane crop is alfalfa. However, if the crop field is contaminated with weeds, it is better to include black fallow in the crop rotation.
  • Soil cultivation technology – Pay attention to soil moisture and nutrients. Remember the soil is free of weeds and done the necessary cultivation before planting Sugarcane. 
  • Selection of planted variety – Only select high-yielding varieties and most resistant to pests and diseases. 
  • Depth of sowing and time of sowing – Consider the climate, temperature, humidity, and soil surface of the area where you grow Sugarcane. 
  • Control of pests and diseases – To respond to any problem in a timely manner, check the health of the plants through their growth, making sure that there is no damage to the produce. 
  • Fertilization – Provide all the necessary nutrients to the crop at different stages of growth to ensure better plant growth and productivity. 

Step 11: How to increase the quality of Sugarcane 

It is essential to cultivate high-quality Sugarcane crops for maximum profit. A large number of nutrients, which promote the quality of Sugarcane, will also improve the sugar content and the quality of the harvested Sugarcane crop. The growing season has a significant impact on the quality of Sugarcane. 

Plant care must be taken to minimize the level of these contaminants during harvesting. In addition, any delay in bringing the crop to the mill will result in a loss of sugar. Proper crop nutrition can affect Sugarcane quality. The supply of micronutrients is also essential in sustaining the growth process, which encourages high-quality sugar. 

Step 12: Crop management practices affecting Sugarcane production 

  • High Sugarcane yields are achieved on fertile lands where water is not limited, especially during the great stages of cultivation. 
  • Maintaining the best pH of the soil ensures that nutrients are readily available and maximum growth is achieved. 
  • Mechanical harvesting affects nutrient utilization and recycling, thus contributing to Sugarcane production. For example, the nitrogen performance of fertilizers is significantly affected in green Sugarcane production, and other nutrients, such as K, are recycled and returned to the soil/plant system. 

Step 13: Intercropping increases Sugarcane production

Sugarcane intercropping with short-term vegetable crops like Cabbage and Cauliflower was beneficial to farmers. In addition, soybean or Black Gram row in well-irrigated areas increases soil fertility and Sugarcane production.

Step 14: Intercultural operations necessary for crop yield

Regular intercultural operations should be carried out to remove dirt and weeds in the skins. Partial hilling up of soil against crop rows is done when the Sugarcane crop grows rapidly at 3-4 months. Old leaves are removed to prevent insect infestation. Sugarcane plants are also tied up to prevent the formation of canes as they grow. 

Step 15: Drip irrigation helps to increase crop production

Drip irrigation helps increase Sugarcane production of nutrients and water directly to the root of the crop, and in the required quantity and when needed. SDI (subsurface drip irrigation) involves using water with the help of emitters on the inner wall of the drip line. 

The definition of drip irrigation means slow and repetitive water application at a small operating pressure and low emission rate through point or line source emitters at or below the soil surface as a result of partial wetting of the soil surface. 

In case you missed it: Sugarcane Seed Germination, Time, Temperature, Process

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Drip irrigation in Sugarcane is a relatively new advanced technology that can save water and energy and increase profits. It can help solve three of the most critical problems of irrigated Sugarcane – water scarcity, rising pumping (energy) costs, and reduction in agricultural profits. However, drip success depends on many agricultural, engineering, and economic factors. 

Step 16: Plantation methods to improve Sugarcane production

Wider or two-row plantation method in Sugarcane
  • Planting in wide or double rows in Sugarcane Planting in wide rows is becoming popular by adopting 150 cm space to facilitate mechanization in Sugarcane cultivation. To further improve the efficiency of Sugarcane in wide rows, new technology has been developed, ‘double row planting.’ 
  • In this method, wide furrows are made at a distance of about 150 cm, Sugarcane deposits are placed in two rows between the skins, and 30 cm is placed between them. 
  • In a comparative study of two different wide rows of planting methods, the yield of Sugarcane from the double row system was 126.7 tons per hectare as compared to 136.3 tons per hectare for the one-row system. 
  • In-plant crops, Co 94005 variety, recorded the highest yield of Sugarcane in double row planting. Between spacing, double row seeding, and standard 90 cm were equal and significantly better than other spacing. 
  • Co 94005 type was best for wide row spacing in scrub cultivation, followed by Co 91010.
Trench method

The trench method is one of the best modern methods of cultivating Sugarcane. This method uses less Sugarcane cutting (two-eyed) per acre, and all the cuttings get about 80% germination and growth. Despite being a modern scientific method of cultivating Sugarcane, it is low cost and gives a high yield of Sugarcane. Plants use less water in this way through hedges. In the procedure, there is no obstruction to the Sugarcane plants automatically. Sugarcane is easy to grid without space difference.

Ring pit method

It is a modern method of cultivating Sugarcane. In the procedure, dig a cylindrical 45 cm deep, 22.5 cm radius rig shape. Up to 20 cm above ground level, organic manure covers the excavation. On this compost, the two-eyed (sometimes one-eyed) cuttings (20 to 30) are set in the shape of wheels like bicycle tire spokes and then covered with dirt. 

This method is more expensive than other planting methods but works better than flat and double row methods. Germination and growth rate are better with less demand for irrigation and fertilizer. Ultimately, this is an expensive method of growing Sugarcane, but it gives results. 

Step 17: Important products for cane growth 

Farmyard Manure: For Sugarcane, apply 12.5 tons per hectare of FYM before final plowing. An average well-digested fertilizer contains about 0.5% N, 0.2% P2O5 and 0.5% K2O. 

Green manure: In Sugarcane, on the third or fourth day after planting, sow green manure crops such as Sunhemp or Daincha on one side of the piles and grow it intercrop with Sugarcane. About 45 days after transplanting, add pruning and inoculation intercrop. Approximately green manure adds about 7.5 to 25 tons of green matter per hectare of land and about 10-30 kg of nitrogen per hectare. Daincha contains about 0.62% N and Sunhemp 0.75% N, 0.12% P2O5 and 0.51% K2O. 

Press mud: Press is a by-product of the sugar industry. For every 100 tons of Sugarcane crushed, about 3 tons of press mud cake is left as a by-product. Apply 37.5 tonnes/hectare of press soil before planting. It contains about 1.2% N, 2.1-2.4% P2O5 and 2.0% K2O. It contains trace amounts of micronutrients, prevents soil erosion, crusting, and cracking, adjusts soil pH, improves drainage, and promotes normal bacterial and microbial growth in the soil.

In case you missed it: Ring-pit Method of Sugarcane Cultivation

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Step 18: Water management for achieving high yields

In Sugarcane, maintaining maximum soil moisture during all stages of crop development is one of the requirements for achieving high yields. Therefore, the crop should be planted in well-distributed rainfed areas or under specific and proper irrigation. In tropical India, the total water requirement for maximum crop growth is 2000 to 3000 mm, including rainfall. The annual crop requirement is more than the ratio (3200 to 3500 mm). Water requirement in sub-tropical India is 1400-1800 mm. 

Step 19: Urea is good for increasing Sugarcane quality

Foliar nutrition of urea (1 to 2.5%) and potassium of about 2.5% help improve Sugarcane production and quality.

Step 20: Hormone used to increase Sugarcane production 

In the case of Sugarcane, it is one of the most widely used substances to stimulate ripening, increase sugar production, and extend the harvesting and milling season. The Ethephon effect on Sugarcane crop is attributed to ethylene, a plant hormone involved in fruit ripening.

Step 21: Pests and disease control will be affected by crop yield

Major pests affected in Sugarcane crop are Early shoot borer, Internode borer, Top shoot borer, Termites, White grub, White woolly aphid, Whitefly, and Mealybug

Diseases affected in Sugarcane crop are Red rot, Wilt, Grassy shoot, Smut, Leaf scald disease, Red striped disease, Mosaic disease, Pokkahboeng, and Rust

The effective method to control the disease is to plant disease-resistant varieties of Sugarcane. Treating Sugarcane with warm water to clean the material before sowing can help prevent disease. In addition, treating seed pieces with warm water before planting can reduce the incidence of the disease, but the use of foliar fungicides has proved to be an ineffective control method.

If diseased planting varieties, plant them in dry, well-drained soil. Using disease-resistant varieties, using healthy seeds, and adopting integrated disease management will reduce the incidence of major diseases. 

Step 22: Spray used in Sugarcane crop to get better yield 

Spraying gibberellin acid on the Sugarcane crop increases the length of the stem. It increases the production by 20 tons per acre. 

Step 23: Overcome the wilting of Sugarcane

  • Select seed material from disease-free plots. 
  • Avoid ratooning practices in diseased fields. 
  • Burn the stubbles and trashes in the field. 
  • In the early stages of the crop, grow Coriander or Mustard as a companion crop. 

In case you missed it: Sugarcane Farming Project Report, Cost and Profit

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Step 24: Harvesting tips for boosting crop yield

Sugarcane is harvested by a mechanical harvester, which moves along the cane rows to remove the tops of the cane leaves and cut the stalks into small pieces or “billets.” Billets are loaded into bins that are tied to the harvester. When filled, the bins are transported to the sugar mill by road or tramway. 

Commercial Sugarcane is planted with stalk cuttings and placed in skins five feet apart. After about 12 months, the mature Sugarcane is ready for harvesting. Farmers get an average of four crops per plant. Generally, farmers harvest from one plant for 3-5 years. Once the rod is cut, the rotating arms strip the leaves and growth and pass the stalks through a cutter that cuts them into small pieces.


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