Sugar Cane /Saccharum Officinarum/
Sugarcane is a large, perennial grass that produces thick, juicy culms that grow about 2-3 meters tall. If left un-harvested, it can grow much taller.
Sugarcane originated in cultivation and is not known in the wild.
Sections of the stem are chewed on as a healthy sweet treat.
The stems are crushed to extract the sap, which is used as a sweetener in
Subtropics to Tropics.
Grows best in a sunny position. A very hungry plant, so ideally it is grown where it can access nutrients. It will thrive planted where it can soak up nutrient run off, e.g. down slope from the chicken or pigpen.
Plant out in Spring 1.5m apart.
Makes a great windbreak if planted at closer spacing.
Propagate from cuttings with 2-3 nodes taken from the upper part of a stem. Select cuttings from a vigorous, healthy plant. Plant with only 2-5cm of the cutting sitting above the surface. In about two weeks from planting, shoots will develop from the nodes and roots will start to grow.
Risks and weed potential
Leaves and sheaths of some varieties are covered with a large number of itchy hairs, so wear gloves and long sleeves when harvesting.
Harvesting & Processing
Harvest when the stems are thick and heavy in Autumn/Winter.
Individual stems can be harvested for a treat in Summer but will have less juice than those harvested later.