Growing Problems With Sugar Cane


Sugarcane, which is grown in tropical and subtropical climates around the world, is a perennial grass that serves as an energy source for people and, more recently, for producing bio-fuel for motor vehicles. Growing sugarcane is a profitable endeavor as long as growing problems don't overtake your fields.


Weeds cause more economic loss to sugarcane growers than any other problem, according to Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension.


The sugarcane borer and the Mexican rice borer can cause serious problems for cane growers by reducing yields significantly. The larvae bore into plant stalks, weakening the tops of the sugarcane plant, which may break off or die.

Ratoon Stunting Disease

Ratoon Stunting Disease (RSD) is caused by a bacterium. It may be the most severe disease sugarcane can suffer from, but there are no external symptoms besides stunted growth, which is not always apparent. RSD may decrease yields by five to 15 percent.


Sugarcane rust is a fungal disease that may decrease yields by twenty percent or more. Rust appears as elongated red-brown or orange-brown spots on the leaves of sugarcane.


Rats can gnaw through the sugarcane stalk and eat the sweet inner core. They may damage a plant enough that it dies, but often the most damage is done by making growing plants more susceptible to disease and insect damage.


  • Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension: Sugarcane in Texas
  • Netafim: Sugarcane
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Sugarcane Rust Disease

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Diseases of Sugarcane
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Sugarcane Pest Insects
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Sugarcane Ratoon Stunting Disease
Keywords: sugarcane, problems with sugarcane, growing sugarcane, sugarcane diseases, sugarcane pests

About this Author

Ann Wolters has been a writer, consultant and writing coach since 2008. Her work has appeared in "The Saint Paul Almanac" and in magazines such as "Inventing Tomorrow" and "Frontiers." She earned a Master of Arts in English as a second language from the University of Minnesota.