A Business Opportunity (Sugar,Sugarcane & Industry)

Sugar Sector:  Pakistan’s MY 2010/11 , Sugar production is forecast at 3.77 (MMT). Up 10 % from last year’s estimate of 3.42 MMT, Consumption is forecast at 4.28 MMT and imports at 0.7 MM tons.

A Business Opportunity (Sugar,Sugarcane & Industry)

Sugarcane Sector

  • Sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum L.
    • an old energy source for human beings and, more recently, a replacement of fossil fuel for motor vehicles,
  • First grown in South East Asia and Western India

            Around 327 B.C. 

  • Introduced to Egypt around 647 A.D. and, about one century later, to Spain (755 A.D.).
    • Since then, the cultivation of sugarcane was extended to nearly all tropical and sub-tropical regions.
  • Portuguese and Spaniards took it to the New World early in the 16th century.
  • It was introduced to the United States of America (Louisiana) around 1741.


  • 5th largest sugarcane growing area in the world
  • Sugar producer 15th biggest global
  • Grown One million hectares
  • Raw material for 84 sugar mills
  • The sugar industry is the country’s second largest agro-industry after textiles
    • Besides its edible use
    • Alcohol for medicinal purposes
    • Ethanol for fuel
    • Chip board manufacturing
    • Pres mud for OM


  • Stem cuttings or sections of the stalks called “setts”
    • Each sett contains one or more buds.
    • Normally, one bud is present on each node and they alternate between one side of the stalk to the other
  • The bud sprouts under favorable conditions and gives rise to a primary stalk


  • Stalk is also known as “millable cane”.
    • It develops from the bud of seed-cane.
    • When seed-cane is planted, each bud may form a primary shoot.
  • From this shoot, secondary shoots called “tillers” may form from the underground buds on the primary shoot.

The Leaf

  • The leaves are usually attached alternately to the nodes
  • The mature sugarcane plant has an average total upper leaf surface of about 0.5 square meter
  • The number of green leaves per stalk is around ten, depending on variety and growing conditions..


  • Also known as arrow Therefore flowering is also known as “arrowing”. The seeds are extremely small and weigh approximately 250 per gram or 113,500 per pound
  • Generally, a day length close to 12.5 hours and night temperatures between 20° to 25°c will induce floral initiation

The Root System – Sett Root 

  • The first roots formed are sett roots, which emerge from a band of root primordia within 24 hours of planting
  • Sett root grow 6-15 days after planting, disappearing by 60-90 days as the shoot root system develops
  • By the age of 3 months, sett roots comprise less than 2% of root dry mass.

The Root System – Shoot Root

  • Shoot roots are second type of root, which emerge from the base of the new shoot 5-7 days after planting .
  • The shoot roots are thicker and fleshier than sett roots and develop in to the main root system of the plant.
  • Develops and takes over supply of water and nutrients to the growing shoot.
  • Typically, approximately 50% of root biomass occurs in the top 20 cm of soil and 85% in the top 60 cm. The percentage of roots in the 0-30 cm horizon was 48-68%

The Root System – Effects of Soil Compaction

  • Reduction in porosity, infiltration rates, and water storage capacity
  • Resistance to root penetration and proliferation. Shallow root system makes the plant susceptible to drought during dry spells.
  • Reduced nutrient and water uptake

Promotes lodging particularly in unusually wet conditions

Germination and Establishment 

  • Under field conditions germination starts from 7 to 10 days and usually lasts for about 30-35 days.
  • The germination of bud is influenced by the external as well as internal factors.
  • The external factors are the soil moisture, soil temperature and aeration.
  • The internal factors are the bud health, sett moisture, sett reducing sugar content and nutrient status
  • Optimum temperature for sprouting is around 28-30C
  • Warm, moist soil ensures rapid germination.
  • Germination results in an increased respiration and hence good soil aeration are important.
  • Therefore open structured porous soils facilitate better germination.
  • Under field conditions, about 60 per cent germination can be considered safe for raising a satisfactory crop.

Tillering Phase 

  • Tillering starts from around 40 days after planting and may last up to 120 days.
  • Various factors viz., variety, light, temperature, irrigation (soil moisture) and fertilizer practices influence tillering
  • Temperature around 30oc is considered optimum for tillering. Temperature below 20 C retards tillering.
  • Maximum tiller population reaches around 3-4 month after planting. By about 5-6 month, 50-60 per cent of the shoots establish and a stable population is established.
  • Though 6-8 tillers are produced from a bud, ultimately only 1.5 to 2 tillers per bud remains to form canes.
  • Ratoon crop gives much higher and early tillering than a plant crop.
  • Factor for low tillering
    • Spacing & interculture
    • Soil fertility
    • Balance fertilizer,
    • Water availability
    • Weed control
    • Root & shoot borer
    • Termite & rodents
    • Disease Management

Grand Growth Phase

  • Grand growth phase starts from 4 month after planting and lasts up to 9 month in a 12-month crop.
  • Only 40-50% tillers survive by 5 month to form millable cane
  • Under favourable conditions stalks grow rapidly almost 4-5 internodes per month.
  • Moisture & nutrient stress reduces internodal length. A temperature around 30oc with a humidity of around 80% is most conducive for good growth.

Grand Growth Phase – Threats

  • Efficient use of Water and nutrients
  • Protection from top & Gurdas pur Borers
  • Protection from sucking Insects – like ; pyrella , Whitefly, black bug & Mites

Ripening & Maturation Phase

  • Ripening and maturation lasts for about 3 months starting from 9-12 month
  • As ripening advances, simple sugars (monosaccharide viz., fructose and glucose) are converted into cane sugar (sucrose, a disaccharide)
  • Cane ripening proceeds from bottom to the top
  • Ample sunshine, clear skies cool nights and warm days (i.e., more diurnal variation in temperature) and dry weather are highly conducive for ripening.

Practical Implications

  • Better understanding of what is going on in the plant
  • This understanding aids in efficient water and nutrient management
  • Control of vegetative growth and manipulation of sugar production to some extent is possible
  • Knowledge of phenological growth phases is essential for maximizing cane yields and sugar recovery