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Cultural operations: Sugarcane

Cultural Operations in Sugarcane

Earthing and Tying

Earthing in July

Tying in August and September when sugarcane of 5 feet height. Do not tie upper leaves. It is done to prevent lodging, economize water use efficiency, control weeds and draining excess water.


Detrashing refers to removal of unwanted bottom dry and green leaves at regular intervals.



Detrashing should be taken up after the cane formation around 150 days after planting. There after it could be done at bi-monthly interval depending up on the labour availability.

Advantages of Detrashing:

  • Maintaining clean field
  • Enhances air movement and enriches Co² with in the crop canopy providing an ideal micro-climate for unrestricted growth of cane
  • More food material is made available for stalk growth
  • Reduces the problem of infestation of several insect-pests like scales, mealy bug, white flies etc
  • Reduces bud sprouting due to accumulation of water inside the sheath in some varieties.
  • Bud sprouting is not desirable as it would reduce main stalk growth and affect sugar accumulation
  • Facilitates easy entry and movement in the field, particularly to inspect the condition of the crop and drip laterals and thus accordingly plan the fertigation and plant protection schedules
  • A clean field minimizes rodents, rats, squirrels in the field which may otherwise cause damage to the crop
  • Facilitates easy and economy in harvesting besides clean canes for crushing
  • Detrashed trash can be used as a mulch for moisture conservation
  • Clean leaves can be used for composting


The operation of tying the leaves together using the bottom dry and green leaves is known as propping.

  • It is done to check lodging of cane.
  • Usually the trash without removing from the cane is twisted to form a sort of rope and cane stalks are tied together. This is known as trash-twist propping. Propping can be either done for each row or two rows can be brought together and tied.
  • In India bamboo poles are used and propping is done in certain pockets but it is too expensive. In areas where cane top growth is heavy and wind velocities are high, propping is necessary to prevent lodging. It reduces cane breakage and loss of stalk number at harvest and thus reduces loss of cane yield.
  • Infestation of certain pests and diseases causing microbes through lodged and damaged canes.
  • Damage of canes is also done by rats and rodents.
  • Bud sprouting leading to reduced cane quality.
  • Aerial root formation which also affects cane quality
  • Difficulty in inspection of drip lines and harvesting


Removal of Water shoots

Water shoots are the late-formed tillers or side shoots, which are robust and fast growing. They originate mainly due to plentiful supply of water, inadequate earthing-up and late fertigation. These water shoots, contain lot of water and less sucrose and more of reducing sugars. 

Water shoots affects the growth of adjacent stalks. They harbour insect-pests and when they are harvested and sent to mill for crushing, lead to reduced juice quality and affect sugar recoveries. Therefore it is advisable to remove water shoots as and when they arise. The water shoots can be used as cattle feed.

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