Sugarcane Crop Cycle

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About
The sugarcane production cycle typically lasts five to six years in most countries, during which time four to five annual harvests are made, but under irrigation and with the right variety, the cycle can be extended to over 30 harvests. The sugarcane’s life cycle begins in year one with the plow-out of old stubble from the previous crop cycle, followed by a period of fallow to prepare seed bed for a new planting. This fallow period can be as little as one to two weeks in the tropics to approximately one year in the subtropics. After the variety has been selected for planting, seed cane of that variety is machine- or hand-planted either as setts or whole stalks. After the plant crop has been harvested, it is normal to allow the crop to regrow once or several times so that two or more harvests are taken from the original planting, a procedure known as ratooning or stubbling. At the end of the cycle, the crop is ploughed out, and the field is replanted with sugarcane or another crop either more or less immediately, or after the period of fallow.