Sugarcane is a Kharif. Sugarcane is an important cash crop of Pakistan. It is a type of long grass “perennial” in nature. The first crop is called “plant cane” and the succeeding crops are called “Ratoon Crops”. Although it is a plant of tropical regions. It can also be cultivated in sub-tropical areas.
In Pakistan, Sugarcane is cultivated in the spring season in the month of February or March. It is harvested in November or December. Sugarcane is included in both Rabi and Kharif Crops. It is a “perennial” crop. The first crop is called “plant cane” and the succeeding crops are called “Ratoon crops”. Generally, good yields from Ratoon crops are obtained only in one or two years.
History of Sugarcane
According to shreds of evidence, this was originated in indo-pak. It’s description found in Indian mythological literature of 1000 B.C.
The people of ancient times were not aware of sugar and were not aware of sugarcane and other means of producing sugar. However, sugar was being sold in the markets of China in the mid of eighteen century. In the European countries, sugar was only found at the tables of the nobles and rich people.
Physical and Economic Factors for Harvesting Sugarcane in Pakistan
The favorable physical factors for the Sugarcane crop are as under:
Sugarcane is a crop of hot and humid climate throughout its vegetative growth, with cool and dry ripening and harvesting season.
Sugarcane is a crop of wet tropical lands. From 8 to 24 months elapse between 18°C to 29°C. Frost is very dangerous to young cane. The sugarcane needs a minimum of 250 frost free days. Sugarcane plant requires temperatures between 18°C to 30°C, throughout its vegetative growth, while during ripening and harvesting period cool and dry weather is most suitable.
Rainfall / Water
It grows well in areas having rainfall of more than 40 inches annually. It is very sensitive to drought conditions. Stagnant water is very damaging. In our country Sugarcane is cultivated in canal irrigated areas since the rainfall is below 20 inches which are not sufficient. In dry regions 16 to 18 irrigation with four inches of depth is sufficient. A long rainy season of 8 months, with 40 to 60 inches rainfall, with plenty of sunshine is most suitable for the high yielding crop.
Sugarcane can be grown on a variety of soils ranging from sandy loams the heavy clays but sill loams and clay loams are most suitable. It is grown primarily on both alluvial and red soils. The soil should contain some elements of lime, potash, and nitrogen.
The best land for sugarcane is flat or undulating and fertile with topsoil that retains moisture and subsoils that permit drainage. Therefore the main Sugarcane area in Pakistan is located in the canal colonies of the fertile Indus valley.
Along with suitable physical conditions, high yields can only be obtained with the help of proper inputs and adopting the best Economic methods.
Suitable soil selection is a prerequisite for high yields. For cane crop, Lava soils and Alluvial soils are most suitable. Suitable soil must be well prepared for proper root development, which increases the yield of the crop.
Skilled and Cheap Labour
The skilled and cheap labor is a Major part of crops cultivation and its play a vital role in the yield production and through this source, production can be increased. The saddest part is, Pakistan’s unemployment rate is high a time when skills are required for the job. It’s all because of unplanned policies.
Stem Quality & Planting Time
The long growing period for vegetative growth of the crop increases its yield, therefore optimum planting time must be strictly observed. In subtropical regions, spring is the best planting time. For plantation of one acre of sugarcane 80 to 100 Munds 3200 kg to the 4000kg amount of sugarcane is required. Therefore 35 to 40 thousand pieces of cane stem with two eyes are needed for one-acre cultivation.
Method of Plantation
The Sugarcane crop is propagated from buds (eyes) with the help of stem. Therefore, it is planted in furrows in well prepared and manure fields. The furrows must be 3 to 4 feet apart and stem must be buried at the depth of 12 inches. After plantation, fields are immediately irrigated. For plantation, both manual and mechanical methods are adapted.
Selection of Stem
The Cultivation of specific varieties for recommended regions is essential for the bulk of production. Indian and tropical varieties of sugarcane are specific to their regions. But cross-breed of these varieties are yielding huge production and is becoming the most popular.
The Sugarcane crop requires heavy manuring of natural and chemical fertilizers for persistently high yields. Therefore balanced and in time fertilizer application result in yields.
Safety of Crop
For Controlling of diseases, insects and weeds are very necessary because they cause up to losses. Therefore, for better yields, remedial measures are necessary to control the pests and diseases.
The Sugarcane is cut at or near the surface of the ground and stripped of its leaves by knife hook and trimmed at the top near the mature joint. Then it is transported to the factory for sugar preparation or it is locally consumed for making Gur and Khandsari.
After crushing cane and preparation of sugar, Bagasse and molasses are two major products of the sugar industry. Bagasse is being used for fuel in mills, making chipboard and paper. While molasses is used for making alcohol, synthetic rubber and animal feed etc.
Production Areas for Sugarcane in Pakistan
In Pakistan, a sub-tropical continental climate militates against the growth of thick canals. All the areas of our country are not suited to the growth of Sugarcane. It is mostly cultivated in canal irrigated areas of Punjab, KPK and Sindh provinces.
Faisalabad, Sargodha, Multan, Bahawalpur, Lahore, and Gujranwala division are famous for Sugarcane production.
Hyderabad division ranks first and Sukkur division second in the production of Sugarcane.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – KPK
Mardan and Peshawar districts are at the top and some amount of Sugar cane is also produced in the districts of Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan.
Sugarcane Production in Pakistan