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BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION: SUGARCANE

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION OF SUGARCANE

Kiran Yadav

GBPUAT, Pantnagar

Sugarcane is a tall perennial plant growing erect even up to 5 to 6 meters. The plant is composed of four principle parts, the root system, the stalk, the leaves and the inflorescence. Description of each of these parts is given as follows:

Root System

The root system is fibrous and consists of two types of roots namely, 'selt roots' and 'shoot roots'. When sugarcane selt is planted in the soil and covered with moist soil, the root primordial (translucent dots) situated at the base of every cane joint is activated and produces roots. These roots are known as 'selt roots' and are mostly temporary. These are thin and much branched and function for a limited period. These roots provide moisture and nutrients for the growing primary shoot until it forms roots of its own. Later on these 'selt roots' cease to function and die. After the emergence of the primary shoot from the bud, other rots are produced from lower rings of the lower nodes of the shoots. Later, this process occurs progressively in upper rings of the nodes near the soil surface. Those formed, first goes downwards, whereas those formed near the soil surface grow in upper layer of the soil for providing anchorage for the plant. These roots produced from shoot are known as 'shoot roots'. These are permanent roots, are fleshy and white in color. New roots are continually produced from tillers.                                                   Sugarcane Roots

Stalk

Sugarcane stalk is roughly cylindrical and is composed of many distinct nodes and internodes. It is above ground portion of the plant which bears leaves and flowers. A small portion of the stalk is below ground which is called as rootstock. At each node there is a bud, sometimes known as an 'eye' appearing on opposite side of the cane. These buds are protected by the leaf sheath, which is folded tightly around the internode. Just below the bud is a raised portion known as leaf scar, a point of attachment of the leaf sheath to the stalk. Before this is the wax band. Internodes of most varieties are coated with waxy material. This coating is usually most evident just below the node, two or three translucent dot like structures known as root primordial appear in root band. These roots primordial give rise to 'selt roots' as indicated earlier. At the apex of the stalk is an apical bud which is responsible for elongation of the stalk. Sugarcane produces branches that grow from below the surface of the soil. The underground portion of the stem tapers rapidly and from the lateral buds of this region and shoots develops. These are called tillers. Single cane may produce as many 20 to 40 tillers depending upon variety and environmental conditions.

   Sugarcane Stalk

Leaves

The leaves of the cane plant grow alternately on opposite sides of the cane stalk from the nodes. Leaf of sugarcane consists of a sheath and the blade with the ligule in between. The sheath is attached to the stalk by a basal ring and completely clasps the stalk. It is normally a light green color. The outer surface of sheath is often hairy. The leaf blade is long, flat structure varying from one to one and a half meters in length and 5 to 7 centimeters wide. The color of blade varies from yellowish green to very dark green depending on both the variety and nutritional status of the plant. The midrib is prominent with a groove on the upper surface. The leaf edges are generally serrated.

Sugarcane Leaf

            The projection from the leaf sheath near the blade joint is the auricle, which does not occur in some of the varieties. At the junction of the sheath and blade there is a membranous attachment known as the ligule which bears long hairs.

Inflorescence

The inflorescence of sugarcane generally called the 'arrow' is an open panicle. It is long (30 centimeters or more) and tapering. The arrangement of the spikelets is racemose, that is, the oldest flowers are at the bottom and the youngest at the top. The flowers open in succession over a number of days. Flowers have both male and female organs, but not all produce fertile pollen. Some of the varieties have fertile pollens but they are usually small and of low vitality. Sugarcane usually flowers at the age of ten to twelve months, but some varieties in north India do not flower at all. Due to this fact cane has so long been propagated vegetatively by cuttings of sugarcane. Cane produced from seed is not so vigorous, but it is important for breeders. 

Sugarcane Inflorescence

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.