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How to Grow Sugar Cane

Sugar cane is a warm-season crop and should be planted in the tropical and subtropical regions of our country. It will grow best in USDA hardiness zones 9 and 10 because it is very cold-sensitive. Sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum) might look like bamboo, but it is a member of the grass family (Gramineae, Poaceae). Its use dates back 2,500 years in China and India and was introduced to the United States around the time of the early colonials. When growing sugar cane, give it room because it can reach a height of 12 feet.

Wait until summer to plant the sugar cane. Sugar cane will not sprout in the cold temperatures of winter.

Select a section of your landscape to plant the sugar cane that receives full sunlight throughout the day. Consider the plant's size and the quantity you are planting when selecting the site. Space multiple rows of sugar cane 6 feet apart to allow the plants room to grow.

Consider the soil when selecting the site. The richer the planting site is, the less you will be required to amend it. Amend the soil with rich organic materials such as compost, manure and peat. Work the organic materials several feet into the planting site. Sugar cane grows best in a rich soil medium.

Dig a furrow that is approximately 5 inches deep and several inches longer than the section of sugar cane you are planting. Lay the sugar cane horizontally in the furrow and cover with soil. Continue this step if you are planting several sections of sugar cane. Plant the sections horizontally not diagonally, or they will not germinate.

Water the planting site well, keeping it moist at all times until the sugar cane sprouts in approximately two to three weeks. Continue to water the planting site on a regular basis, keeping the area moist. Do not allow the sugar cane to grow in dry conditions.

Fertilize the sugar cane after it has established itself. Apply a 10-10-10 fertilizer to the planting site, watering it in well. Apply one month after the sugar cane has emerged from the ground and another application in late fall and spring. The sugar cane should be ready to harvest in about 10 to 18 months, depending on the variety planted.


Sugar cane grows well in the damp, organically rich soil of the Florida Everglades.

Sugar cane crops grown for production are rotated every three years to replenish the soil with a product such as rice.

Sugar cane prefers to grow in moist conditions.

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