How to Plant Sugarcane

Overview

People growing sugarcane on a small scale grow "backyard sugarcane." Backyard sugarcane varieties suit gardeners planting it for chewing, syrup or just to create a windbreak for other garden plants. All sugarcane, including backyard sugarcane, is a tropical grass, so it's only suitable for Southern climes. Gardeners propagate sugarcane from stalks. These stalks are segmented, each segment separated by "nodes." From these nodes grow buds. You can't use a whole stalk to grow new plants, though. In this situation, only the end nodes tend to grow new plants. Thus, people growing sugarcane use smaller stalk sections called billets or seed pieces.

Step 1

Decide the planting site. Full sun is best. Soil should drain well.

Step 2

Perform a soil test through your local county extension office. This test will provide guidance, including fertilizer needs. Determine the variety of sugarcane appropriate for your soil, using the soil test recommendations as a guide.

Step 3

Obtain the sections.

Step 4

Till the planting site, then rake it smooth.

Step 5

Dig a furrow for the cane or, if planting a stand, rows of parallel furrows spaced 4 to 10 feet from one another. Loam and clay loam require 3- to 7-inch furrows; sand and very organic soil demand furrows a bit deeper.

Step 6

Spread about 1 lb. of 8-8-8 fertilizer or whatever is recommended by the soil test for every 10 feet of furrow.

Step 7

Cover the fertilizer with 1 to 2 inches of soil.

Step 8

Lay the segments in the fertilized furrows so that the end of one piece is laid down starting from the middle of the last piece laid. This overlapping will prevent growth gaps.

Step 9

Cover the sections with 2 to 5 inches of soil. Don't pack it.

Step 10

Water only so the soil is moist and keep it that way.

Step 11

Add soil to the furrow gradually as shoots grow out of it. This eventually results in an elevated cane bed. You can accomplish this as you weed next to the emerging cane.

Tips and Warnings

  • Plant sugarcane away from high-traffic pedestrian areas. The leaves of sugarcane are sharp and can cut people. Some sugarcane types can also fall over when mature. Protect sugarcane, especially young sugarcane, from frost.

Things You'll Need

  • Rototiller
  • Rake
  • Narrow shovel/furrow maker
  • Fertilizer, probably 8-8-8
  • 2- to 3-foot sections of sugarcane stalks, each with about 6 nodes
  • Hoe

References

  • "A Garden of Your Own;" Michael O'Brian; 1993
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Backyard Sugarcane

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Fertilization Recommendations for Agronomic Crops
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Weed Management in Sugarcane
Keywords: planting sugar cane, planting sugarcane, how to plant sugarcane

About this Author

S. Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media who specializes in making the complex clear. A freelancer for over 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover many topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews, learning a lot and talking to many interesting people.