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How to Harvest & Process Sugar Cane

By Marie Roberts ; Updated September 21, 2017

Sugarcane production is a major commercial industry, providing the crystals used for making granulated sugar. Home production of sugarcane usually consists of planting the chewing or syrup types of sugarcane rather than the crystal canes of commercial production. Sugarcane is sometimes grown as a hobby crop in the Southeastern United States.

Cut mature sugarcane stalks (those planted the previous year) with a sharp knife or lopping shears as close to the ground as possible. University of Florida extension says the highest concentration of sugar is located in the bottom portion of the sugarcane stalk.

Trim the green upper part of the sugarcane stalk. The upper portion lacks sugar accumulation.

Squeeze or crush the harvested stalks to collect the juice if you have access to a traditional sugarcane press. Traditional home vegetable juicers generally aren't powerful enough to handle sugarcane easily and you'll risk damaging your machine unless it specifically mentions it is suitable. Commercial quality sugarcane juice presses or mills exist, but difficult to justify economically for the backyard grower.

Cut the stems into small pieces if chewing the sugarcane is preferred. Store cut pieces in resealable bags and keep refrigerated.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Mature sugarcane
  • Sharp knife or loppers
  • Sugarcane press or other extractor

Tips

  • “Chewing” types of sugarcane are softer than other varieties, and the pulp is easier to spit out after consuming the sugar.
  • Contact your local county extension office or farmer's market to inquire about other hobby growers in your area. You may be able to arrange using another grower's cane grinding equipment if you have a large crop.
  • Many areas conduct “old-time” cane grinding events in the fall where you can learn more about how sugar cane was used in years past.

About the Author

 

Marie Roberts is a writer based in Florida. She has a B.S. in horticultural sciences. Roberts began writing in 2002.