How to Grow Sugar Cane in Your Yard: Getting it Started

by BeachHunter on July 4, 2013

What’s the best way to get sugar cane started in your yard or home garden? I tried 3 different methods to find out which works best: The video is fairly long–about 15 minutes–but is a step-by-step process filmed over 5 months. The three methods I used to start the cane after cutting it into pieces with two joints each were:

  1. Plant the seed pieces directly into the ground, horizontally.
  2. Plant the seed pieces in potting soil in a large pot.
  3. Place the seed piece in a bucket of water.
Sugar cane sprouting

After being immersed in water for several weeks, the canes sprouted new shoots.

I did this experiment from mid December through the following June. Had I started the rooting process in April or May, I’m pretty sure I would have gotten quicker results with warmer weather. As it was, we did have an unusually warm winter, with January and February being the warmest months, and March being the coldest.

Results: I found that by simply cutting the cane into two foot lengths, then placing them vertically in a 5 gallon bucket filled 3/4 with water, I got the quickest development of roots and cane sprouts. Once the sprouts were a few inches long and showed some small root development, I cut the cane into sections with two joints per piece and planted them in large pots with potting soil to allow them to develop sturdy roots before setting out in the garden. I found that sprinkling half a cup of blood meal on the potted cane plants every few weeks greatly improved their health and rate of growth. Finally, choosing a location in full sun for planting them out in the yard is probably best for maximum growth.

This is the cane right after I planted it in the yard, 5 months after starting.

This is the cane right after I planted it in the yard, 5 months after starting.

For those of you interested in finding out more about growing and using sugar cane, below are some resources that I’ve enjoyed reading and watching:

Here’s an article about a Florida family that has grown cane and made syrup on their farm for generations.

Here’s an article from a family in Costa Rica showing them using their hand roller-press to extract juice from purple sugar cane. Very beautiful photos of the cane.

Below are some videos showing various methods of extracting juice from sugar cane for drinking. Syrup makers would use much heavier equipment to handle larger quantities of cane quickly.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 KerigB July 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm

I enjoyed watching the video. The thought of growing sugar cane for personal use never crossed my mind. How many canes will you have to grow before the possibility of crushing them for juice becomes feasible? They seem quite quick growing, but how long will the process take? Perhaps come harvest time you can treat us to another “how to” video.
Thanks
kb

2 BeachHunter July 5, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Kb, thanks so much for watching my video and for commenting. One good-sized cane will produce several glasses of juice. The micro-economics of cane growing depend on what you are going to do with the juice. For small growers who are growing cane to produce syrup (for pancakes and such), half an acre of cane will produce about 240 gallons of juice, which will boil down to about 36 gallons of syrup. So, if you grew a 20 X 20 plot of cane, I imagine you could make several gallons of syrup, and more juice than you could drink. In that case, you would grow the cane all summer and harvest all of it at once during the late fall, then boil it down and bottle the syrup.

I’m just interested in the fresh juice. It is reported to be quite healthful and the taste is fantastic. One large cane will produce 3 or 4 glasses of fresh juice. My idea is to buy a juicing machine. Whenever I want a glass of cane juice I would just go out into the backyard and cut a cane and run it through the juicer. I figure that in just one corner of my yard I can easily grow 150 canes. Multiply that by 3 and it works out to a yield of over 400 glasses of fresh cane juice. More than we can drink. I’ll add some interesting links to the blog post above. I’ll definitely do another video when the canes are ready to harvest. If I can’t afford to buy a juicing machine, I’ll find a more low-tech way of juicing the cane.

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