June 25, 2020

Sugarcane

Sugarcane is a large grass of the genus Saccharum, tribe Andropogoneae, family Poaceae. Modern sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) cultivars are interspecific hybrids derived from a hybridization process involving Saccharum officinarum (or “noble cane”) and Saccharum spontaneum (wild cane), followed by a series of backcrosses to the noble parent.

Sugarcane  is a highly productive C4 grass used as the main source of sugar and more recently to produce ethanol, a renewable transportation fuel. There is increased interest in this crop due to the impending need to decrease the dependency on fossil fuels.

Initially, pieces of cane stalk would have been chewed to express the sweet juice, and chewing canes still provide a conveniently packaged form of energy food in many cultures. Juice extraction from the stalk, and concentrating it by drying or heating to produce a crude sugary product, must have been developed in a rudimentary form at least 3000 years ago.

Sugarcane is a tall perennial tropical grass, which tillers at the base to produce unbranched stems from 2 to 4 m or more tall, and to around 5 cm in diameter. It is cultivated for these thick stems, stalks or canes, from which the sugar is extracted.

Sugarcane is cultivated for its high rate of sucrose accumulation, ease of propagation via vegetative stem cuttings and multiple harvests from a single planting. It is a principal crop in tropical and subtropical regions, with a production estimate of over 1.3 million metric tons of sucrose per annum.

Sugarcane is the main source of sugar (80%) globally. The sugar juice is used for making white sugar, brown sugar and jaggery. The main by-products of sugarcane industry are bagasse and molasses. Bagasse is mainly used as fuel. It is also used for production of compressed fibre board paper, plastic and others. Molasses is used in distilleries for the manufacturing of ethyl alcohol, butyl alcohol, citric acid etc. Rum is the best potable spirit made from molasses.

The ideal environment for sugarcane is one in which rainfall (or irrigation) is well distributed during the growing season, but where the preharvest ripening period is relatively dry, and the sunshine hours are plentiful throughout the whole season.
Sugarcane

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