FROM THE LIC:.-.A.Y
Bulletin No. 53
Sugarcane for Syrup
State of Florida
Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO. Commissioner
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Nathan Mayo, Commissioner of Agriculture .....Tallahassee
Early History in Florida .--..-.--______ 7
Member of Grass Family ..-_~_ ._ 8
Climatic Requirements .... -........--. ..-.-.---...... 8
Soil Requirements ....-.............-- ..--.._-.. ---......-.. 8
Plant Food Requirements .--._- .._._.. ____ 10
Varieties ........-..- ...... .._ ................-------- ---11
Propagation ---.. --...... --.............- ............. ...13
Saving Sugarcane for Seed._. .___... 14
Preparing the Soil-...-..-..-......-. ...-..-.. ..-... _.. 16
Planting the Cane...--...---------------... .... -_ .. 17
Cultivation .--.........--- ...._.-- ..-- .._-..-_.......-- 19
Harvesting ........ ............-._. __........_.. .. _............ 20
Cooking the Juice---..-..........--........... ....-..-...... 23
Yields of Juice and Syrup --........-......._._ _.. .___ 25
Diseases ...........------------......- .. ..._........... .. 25
Insects .............---------------..._..-... -- ........-_...... ..._ ...._.. 26
Everglade Developments ....._.._..__- -- ..___ ...._ 27
Acknowledgements .. ______ 28
Growing Sugarcane For Syrup In
i.,, IRA.'1 .' ll Not'T.i.A1lliti
S .GARCANE is a staple crop in Florida. Until quite
ieclnt!y it has bean grown here almost exclusively for
sy'-u p:.cd:c~tzn and in the main it has been grown in
:-r!all patcheses" often of !lss thin an icrs to the farm. How-
cver. -within the past few years e::tensive developments have
bzen undzrway in parts nf the Evriglades where considerable
rcrl. ge cf sugarcane is now being grown for sugar. Ever.
giadr land is very rich in crganic matter and nitrogen and
when it is drained and p):'c 2r; managed it produces a heavy
According to the latest published general census report
(1919) the sugarcane acreage and production for the United
States was as follows:
State Acreage Tons of Cane
Louisiana 234,049 2,435,683
Gecrgia .11.558 365.603
Alabama 25.302 208.342
Mississippi 25,256 1.86.238
Florida 20.413 179.573
Texas 18.407 124,493
Other States 7.953 44,702
Totals 372.938 3,544,634
A more recent rspzrt of the Bureau cf Agricultural Eco-
nmim.-: of the United States Department of Agriculture.
dated December 27. 1930, states that Florida's acreage for
syrup was 9,000 in 1930. It adds that this acreage yielded
1,530,000 gallons of syrup valued at $994,000.
These figures are for sugarcane fcr syrup production only
and do not include 23,000 acres said to be growing in south-
ern Florida for the production of sugar. This acreage is be-
6 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
ing increased rapidly, perhaps by two or more thousands an-
nually. Thus Florida probably has about 32,000 acres of land
devoted to sugarcane.
Although the acreage of sugarcane for syrup is small in
Florida, there is a worthwhile need fcr some to be grown on
many cf cur farms. It is the first duty of any farm-especi-
ally the general farm-to feed the people and domestic ani-
mals living on that farm. Sugarcane contributes dircctlly to
this end. Only a very small patch cf it will produce enough
syrup for the average family, and frequently give a surplus
to be scld f3r cash. On almost all farms there is some land
which can be grown to sugarcane, even though it may not he
ideal fcr this crop.
'IX o.itir~intm. olf the. murlmmclmno. inegim..t y ill Flo.rtida during vorly cof-
t. tital rey.s. At Ief t ipsarr of tmiooke statrk %till standln- of t 1o1 faIrnosc st
I'ort tironge. neitr NSw Solvent@. lgtgrr right lot view of 411,1 kettle losultloon
remal "Inc sit IbeLoon Siirlnzt near It.Lion.I. Note fil wrosih of lrgie. Lower
richt "howu cromlier rotllers and star tf tht flop *ixteeny r (utuern-utrlen) it! thie
0(l Posrt On,r uge mill which. It to *slid. witu hbrouighit from LIh erisotal. iogleand.
'tiV eVrur g OtfE) l oppolstedl foer tacrlo 24HI 2 yorm. Iseull nod : iou li minu
II .. hn oannesd It ussid tile 44105 oretne of mogacuat*lle firild. olloiceitinag It.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 7
This bulletin is for just this purpose-to discuss the grow-
ing of sugarcane on the small or average farm for syrup
manufacture. Since the large sugar producer maintain their
own research staffs, which enables them tc knew as much. 1r
more perhaps, about the sugarcane and its culture as many
state governments, this phase of sugarcane growing will not
be discussed in this bulletin.
EARLY HISTORY IN FLORIDA
Sugarcane is grcwn in all the warm regions -i the word.
Ils original habitat is not definitely known, but it is thought
to be southern Asia or some of the islands south of that con-
tinent. It probably was introduced into North America at or
near New Orleans by the Jesuit fathers abcut' 1750, though
there are stories to the effect that it was grown in various
paits of this country as early as 1650. Louisiana still is
America's largest sugarcane-growing state, both for syrup
and for sugar.
This plant was brought to Florida, it is thought, socn after
its introduction into Louisiana, and since that time has main-
tained some importance amcng the staple crops of the Flor-
Easily identified ruins of cld cane mills and syrup vats are
to be found in a number of localities in this state. Notable
among these are those at Pert Orange near New Smvrna and
at DeLeon Springs near DeLand. These would indicate that
at scme time during the early colonial period sugarcane cuil
ture and sugar manufacture by crude methods were of major
importance in Florida. As these old mills are to be found in
or near great hammock swamps, it is evident the early settler
knew the type of land mcst suitable for growing sugarcane.
No one seems able to give any very definite facts concerning
these old establishments. Presumably slave and captive
Indian labcr was utilized by enterprising adventurers. Also
sugar must have commanded high prices in those days. for
otherwise ventures of this scope certainly would not have
been profitable. The apparent good prices in these days were
probably due to the fact that syrup was then the only know,
8 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
source of sugar.
One must see, therefore, that Florida has been regarded as
something of a "sugar" bowl" in other ages than the present.
MEMBER OF GRASS FAMILY
Sugarcane, like corn and many other common cultivated
plants, is a member of the large grass family. The plant
usually consists of a number of stalks growing together in a
large clump or cluster. The stalks vary in heights, but usually
range from 7 to 12 feet on good land.
The stem is jointed and the internodes or spaces between
the nodes are of varying lengths, being shorter near the
ground and increasing in length as the top of the plant is ap-
proached. The leaves are attached at the nodes and are some-
what similar to those of corn. With each node is associated
a stem bud or eye, and it is from these buds that new stalks
arise when the seed canes are planted. The buds are protected
by the sheath of the leaf, which folds around the stem and
prevents injury to the bud.
In tropical countries one planting may afford two, three or
even more harvests, the stubble remaining alive from season
to season. This may hold true in southern Florida, but in the
northern part of the state the stubble may be injured by cold
and growing a second crop from one planting is not common.
Sugarcane is essentially a tropical plant and for best
growth it requires a high mean temperature with a heavy
rainfall. A temperature gradually cooling from summer heat,
accompanied by dry weather, is best for the maturing pro-
cess. This increases the sugar content. Heavy rains at the
time of maturity may be detrimental to sugar formation.
Low temperatures and frosts are injurious. Heavy frosts
make the cane unfit for both syrup and sugar.
The wide variety of soils on which sugarcane is to be found
growing in Florida is evidence that the crop is not confined
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE !
to just one type of soil. Some of the lighter lands lack suffi-
cient fertility and require liberal applications of commercial
fertilizer to produce good crops. However, frequently the
most desirable and best flavored syrup is made on the poorer,
The sandy Icam soils are considered favorable for produc-
ing a superior quality of sugarcane syrup, better in color.
clearness and flavor than that grown on heavier lands. This
is probably due to the fact that cane on the lighter lands
comes nearer maturing in a growing season and consequently
has more mature joints on each stalk with a better grade of
syrup resulting therefrom.
A rich loamy surface soil underlaid at about 12 or 14
inches, or even two feet, by clay is excellent for sugarcane, if
it is not too high and dry or too low and wet. In the latter
case drainage would remove the disadvantage, but it is sel-
dom possible, easy or practical to irrigate the higher lands.
Hammock or reasonably high pine sandy loams are ordinarily
regarded as suitable for growing sugarcane.
The muck soils, of which there are thousands of acres in
various parts of Florida, are capable of producing heavy
crops of cane. Some of this land is already producing good
yields, while large bodies of it need only to be cleared and
made ready for planting. Some of it has first to be drained
for best results. These muck lands have a great abundance
of nitrogen, but often they are improved by the addition of
mineral matter. Applications of phosphoric acid and potash
are often made. However, yields of more than 50 tons per
acre have been reported from muck soils even without the
use of either of these fertilizers. An application of from 50
to 75 pounds of copper sulphate per acre has been found es-
sential for good crops on raw muck or poat.
10 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
iMr. 2. tBrldlncg ncurrane stalks for plantlne purposes. Buried with the
Iraver nd nl nverrre with a fem Inches of earth the stalks are safe from the
lon trnpl.rrAtusr common to tlls state.
It is usually advisable for the farmer to select his best
available land for growing sugarcane.
PLANT FOOD REQUIREMENTS
Sugarcane requires fertilizers rich in nitrogen. Where the
crop has been grown for several years the nitrogen supply
usually is low or depleted. Phosphoric acid and potash are
also required and should be applied to the average soil where
sugarcane is grown. Since this crop makes a heavy growth it
must have liberal amounts of available plant food. The richer
the soil in organic matter the less likely it will need heavy
applications of commercial fertilizers. The usual application
on sandy Icam soil should be from 500 to 1,200 pounds per
acre. This should analyze about 4 percent cf nitrogen, 8 per-
cent of phosphoric acid and 4 percent of potash.
Frequently commercial fertilizer is applied in two applica-
tions. The first of these is applied at or just before planting
time in order that the young plants will grow off much more
vigorously. The second application is applied as a side dress-
DEPARTMENT CF AGRCIULTURE 11
ing near the end of the cultivating season. If rainfall has
been ample and the cane does not show reasonable growth, a
top dressing of about 200 pounds of nitrate of scda in August
or early in September usually will prove a good investment.
Stable manure usually stimulates growth and increases
production. But it tends to produce a darker colored syrup.
Notwithstanding this disadvantage, heavy applications of
manure are often made by the best farmers and its liberal
use is generally recommended on any but muck soils.
As a general rule it may be said that sandy eoiis, of which
FloIida has an abundance, require liberal additions cf organic
matter for sugarcane. Tnis can be provided in many ways:
by growing cover crops on the land before planting sugarcane,
on it, or by appyling stable manure, cottonseed meal. humus.
tankage, pomace, dried blood, etc. Applying cottonseed meal
as a direct fertilizer is wasteful, for by feeding it to cattle
and applying the manure as a fertilizer a feeding value is ;r-
aliz:.d frcm the meal. The manure contains a large percent-
ag:, cf th2 fertilizer nutrients that were present in the meoa!
before the cattle consumed it for milk or meat production.
The farmer has certain standards of quality to demand of
the variety of sugarcane he grows fcr syrup or for sugar.
Early maturity is of first importance, particularly in the
northern part of the state where early-winter frost is a con-
cern. Every farmer wants high-tonnage, and at the same
time cane which produces a high percentage of juice. The
juice should analyze high in solids, mainly sugar. A I;iht
colored stalk which does not impart a dark color to the syrup
is preferred, other things being equal.
Since disease is a factor to be considered, varieties that
shcw resistance to disease, both during growth and also whil2
the seed stalks are in winter storage, are of immense import-
ance. Good germinating and stcoling habits are desired
whether the plant is spring- or fall-planted.
There are numerous varieties of sugarcane. Some-if not
all of them-possess some of the qualities just enumeratcl.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
and those possessing the greatest number in the greatest de-
gree are the most valuable. Varieties are identified mainly
by size, height and especially by the color of the stem, which
may be green. yellow. red. purple or variously striped.
Some authorities classify the sugarcane into two main
groups. These are:
1. The genuine sugarcanes with rather large, colored
stems, the rind of which is not very thick, and with broad,
rather harsh leaves which strip easily from the stalks.
2. The Japanese group cf cane which have relatively
slender stalks with thick, hard rinds and narrow, less harsh
leaves which do not strip easily.
Red or commonly called Purple sugarcane, Red Ribbon,
Fir. .verrlinle land rendi. for uti'gre-inne slilk. It he dro ild"Il In the
Ilurrow, .lt tli- ri iht ramu-. I tli l belnu In arv ilel. (I S. plotu.)
Green. Green Ribbon and Japanese are scme of the most gen-
crally planted and popular old varieties ; grown in Florida. Rxl
or Purple? is probably the most p!pul!ar and most generally
girow'.n variety, especially fcr syrup. Rtd Ribbon. Green and
Green Ribbon are varieties of considerable importance. The
green canes produce a syrup lighter in color than that from
the red and purple canes. This is attributed to the presence
of les:: coloring matter than is found in the darker colored
canes. Green cane is soft and most popular for chewing.
A variety that was introduced by the United States De
apartment of Agriculur( is known as Cayana-10. This cane
DEPARTMENT OF AGRCIULTURE 13
possesses many of the best qualities of some of the older es-
tablished ones, and in addition it has shown a high resistance
to mosaic, which makes it popular in many areas.
Japanese sugarcane is grown occasionally as a forage crop
for cattle. It is also grcwn to some extent for syrup. This
cane has certain disadvantages, as a syrup cane, in that the
stalks are smaller and harder than the regular sugarcane
varieties, and the leaves are not so easily stripped from the
stalks. The stalks, being slender and hard, require more than
the uusal force to extract the juice. The juice yield is also
lower than from the softer varieties. It has shown a rather
high degree of resistance to s.)me of the mere common dis-
eases, and because of this fact it is frequently grown for
syrup production. Japanese cane is very hardy and is more
drought resistant than the red cr green canes.
In the United States sugarcane seldom produces flowers
except in the southern part of Florida. Even in that area
viable seed are so seldom produced and themselves produce
such poor cane that other methods are used to propagate the
crop. The seed are small and often germinate very poorly.
Practical propagation is by planting the stripped stalks.
Healthy vigorous canes are best for this purpose. At each
node the stalks have buds or eyes from which the new plants
.;grow. Roots push out around the old stalks immediately be-
low the buds.
In southern Florida where the climate is mild a crop is
often grown for two or maybe three seasons from the root-
stocks which are left in the ground after the crop is har-
vested in fall or winter. When the rootstocks remain al;vo
during winter.. the following spring they may send forth
sprouts, called ratcons, from the buds. From these are de-
veloped a so-called stubble or ratoon crop. This ratoon crop
is sometimes grown on northern Florida farms, though it is
not as common as in more southern localities.
Stalks to be used for seed canes should be allowed to grcw
as late in the fall as cold weather will permit, so as to be a-
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
mature as possible. The plant matures faster and better as
the season advances. Eight or nine months' growth produces
buds sufficiently mature and strong to give good stands. In
some cases in southern Florida these seed stalks can be
planted in the fall directly in the field where they are to
sprout and grow into a new cane crop.
SAVING SUGARCANE FOR SEED
In the northern part of the state stalks for planting must
be protected from frost and freezes. This is done by banking,
bedding or windrowing, an operation of burying the canes in
beds or trenches and covering with trash or soil or both. This
should be done before frost. The buds are very sensitive to a
light freeze and may be injured even though the cane is not
damaged materially for syrup or sugar purposes. Late Octo-
ber or early November is the customary time in the northern
Iig. 4. Sugarrenne stalks nlreldy dropped into the planting furrows now
remily io hlo .c v otrt.d. Note lhow the stalks overlap. (U. S. I). A. photo.)
part cf the state to cut and bed sugarcane for seed, while a
month or six weeks later is time enough in central and south-
The seed canes should be cut and bedded while still moist.
Drying out reduces their value for seed purposes. The more
noistu're in the canes when they are bedded the better. The
DEPARTMENT OF AGRCIULTURE 15
leaves should be left on the stalks so as to protect the buds
and to prevent drying out. In bedding the cane, place the
base of each stalk on the ground, then lay the stalk on those
already in place, as shingles on a house. As soon as the seed
canes have been placed in the bed, cover with three or four
inches of moist earth. Let this remain over the canes until
the following spring, when it may be removed at planting
time. The beds are usually made 8 or 10 feet wide for con-
venience and as long as the amount of cane require;. (See
It is not safe to locate the seedbed where water is likely to
stand during wet weather, nor should it be located cn very
high and dry land. Even though a suitable location is found
for the bed and ether conditions are ideal, it is safe to assume
some of the seed stalks or seed eyes will usually decay or dry
out before planting time. The wise farmer beds as much as
25 percent more canes than needed for planting the next
spring patch, in order to offset those which are likely to de-
cay or dry out.
What quantity of seed cane to save cr. rather, the amount
of cane necessary to plant an acre is a question frequently
asked. With rows 5 feet apart. there would be 42 rows. each
210 feet long, to an acre. This would require 8,820 feet of
canes, placed end to end. If it is assumed that each stalk
would be 4 feet long, it would require 2,205 stalks per acre.
Should it be desirable to plant thicker or thinner, the number
of canes would necessarily be increased or decreased. Or if
the rows are to be closer together or wider apart, simple cal-
culation will give the change in quantity of seed to secure.
Some farmers bed seed stalks with the roots attached.
since the lower joints usually have more well-matured buds.
and some of them think that the presence of the roots helps
to preserve the stalks. The only advantage of banking the
canes with their roots attached is that less moisture evapor-
ates than w)uld if the stalks were cut off above the roots.
which would expose the tissue to the air. A serious objection
to the beddding of rootstocks for seed pu p:;ses is the lpssi-
bility of spreading diseases and insect pests from ;ne fie!d to
16 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
PREPARING THE SOIL
The best soil can hardly be regarded as an asset, unless it
is properly prepared and cultivated. Even if the land is new
all stumps and roots should be removed before crops are
planted. Though. only a single-hcrse plow is the means of
cultivation, there is no valid reason why stumps should he
left in the land, at least longer than the first year or two af-
Iir. 5. lwa,1 ti, ws of ryou.ni nuginrrine. l.fw .*r vi,.w i.% of arr.v > itIIcI
<-;in ,, di:rin. a \#r sc;-r* d(roii(. ht. Nxolt (Iie -c'~cllct. cl.enn, il,:allo,,w rulli-
a:litian. P'liiiati aken l;i oni fairm f W" V I. II.lc]wliw .% ast 'l ih.r: ..lalt : ae Is *lllis itu i
( m l sl l ..
Sugarcane, being a ravenous feeder, the land must b2
broken as deeply as consistent with gocd agricultural prac-
tice. Broadcast slightly deeper than the land was broken the
year before, in case of old land. In breaking new land, do not
turn up mnlre than an inch cr two cf subsoil, if any. And the
1 EKPA'RT'ENT CF' AGRCl IULT'UR E 17
land should be broken completely. Break every inch. Sugar.
cane roots grow wide and; deep: aid their gl.;\Lh by giving
them a well pulverized soil.
Mircovcr a scil so prepared is a g eat aid in case of dry
weather. Land bi oken only a few' inches dIeep cr in a hit-and-
miss. here-and-there manner. will dry :ut much quicker than
that b:ckc!: deep, evenly and well. The better the job the
bettI-r ilhe s;-il will ho!i a wattr supply for the use cf the
crop. and bear in mind that a good seedbed is perhaps the
most Le:'menial reiquilmenlet in the growing of any crop. With-
cut it the farmer faces a se?'in.i and unnecessary handicap.
4;i. i. Sie:tr; ll'; I(;;: (::;;1I in 11 ;l inl (o011unty. Tih frCint ru i :, I: r
el'i (rit-im led. TI .. l[itrllr hil i hi Il hls d a1 1 i p nlill.' rl il)l g lIJ te|l1 li niii l.
'PLANTING THE',I CANE
utgarc une nmay be planted in Fl:;:rda inl eitichr ':il uo
spring, the location largely detcrmining the time. Vlih're
there is little frcst the crop may be planted in fall with fair
expcrtation :of success. However. lprinlg Ip!anting is in;:.;t
18 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
common in Florida, except in the most southern areas. Fall
planting may be done as late in the season as it is safe
against frcst. Planting in the spring is usually completed by
the middle of March, and frequently earlier.
The seed stalks should be stripped of their leaves, mainly
to avoid planting stalks infected with red-rot or possessing
dead buds. It is necessary to inspect the stalks, particularly
the eyes, as they are stripped. If the rootstccks are planted,
thoroughly inspect them to make sure they are not infected
with root-knot. This is a serious sugarcane trouble in some
vicinities and may be easily transferred to clean fields by
planting infested rootstocks.
I tr. 7. After itrliploing t-re l t oppil.nr. Then Ihre stalks are cut down.
lmetim, piled. nl d Ilh-n h. lnt-l Ii. the mill.
Space between rows varies from 4 to 6 feet, according to
locality and richness of the soil. The better the land, the
wider should be the rows; and under these conditions more
suckers sprout cut (this is stooling) and more tonnage is
produced. Planting furrows are usually about 6 inches deep:
however, on dry land they should be deeper. It is customary,
unless the land is either wet or dry, not to bed the land for
sugarcane, but merely to lay off the planting furrows in
level, broadcasted land. The furrows are opened and the seed
stalks arc distributed end-to-end in them after which furrows
DEPARTMENT OF AGRCIUL'TURE 19
are turned frcm both sides to cover the stalks with about 3
or 4 inches of soil. If the land is very good, the quantity of
stalks planted could be increased; if it is poor, the quantity
might be decreased. Some farmers claim they secure better
stands by cutting the planting stalks into pieces frem IS to
2-1 inches long. This may increase the stand; it surely in-
crea.ses labor costs.
Sound. healthy buds will start to grow as soon as the soil
warms up in spring. Thus the cane ought to be planted early,
ordinarily as early as March 1 in northern Florida. Seed cane
that has been bedded should be planted as soon as it has been
taken from the banks, so that the buds will not dry out and
die. Should it be necessary to transport seed cane for some
distance, exercise care that the stalks are not exposed to the
sun or to the air for long at a time; keen them covered.
The first cultivation given sugarcane by many of the best
farmers is with a smothing harrow or a shallow cultivator
run perpendicular to or across the rows. This has two ad-
vantages: It removes part of the earth from over the seed
stalks which speeds the "coming up" of the young sprouts.
and it puts an end to the first crop of weeds of the year.
Subsequent cultivations are much the same as those given
to cotton or corn, except that early cultivation should not
throw the earth around or close to the young plants. This
retards stooling or suckering, an essential to high yield. Late
in the season the earth should be worked well up around the
base of the young plants. Because of this method of early
cultivation it becomes necessary to use the hoe to remove
weeds, as well as to pull earth away from about the base of
the young plants. The hoe is probably more important in the
culture of sugarcane than of almost any other farm crop.
All cultivation should be shallow, because the roots of the
plant are very numer:)us and grow extensively in all direc-
tions. Deep culatation destroys or in.jur's them and. thus.
hinders the growth of the plant.
20 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Sugarcane is usually allowed to grow as late as possible in
the fall and is not harvested until just before or shortly after
the first light frost of the season. In case of freezing weather
threatens before grinding has been completed, all cane in the
Fit. 8. Suignrrane harvesting tools. At left are two views of a hand
strinper. (enter shows a topping knife. At right is hoe for cutting down
stalks. (Halftone hy courtesy of Florlda Ari. Rxt. Service.)
fiid should be cut, piled and covered up with any material
which will keep the stalks frcm freezing or frosting. Cutting
down the whole plants, windrowing them much as seed stalks
are bedded for winter, and then covering with a quantity of
leaves, bagasse or hay will usually provide ample protection.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRCIULTURE 21
Juice in cane that has been exposed to a freezing temperature
will ferment, and this injures it for syrup.
Harvesting consists of stripping the leaves, topping, cut-
ting down the stalks and hauling them to the mill. Stripping
is usually done with a hand implement designed after the
style of a corn knife. It may be a thin board worked to a
sharp edge. Or it may be a special implement made of two
pieces of thin steel about 15 inches long by 1 inch wide and
1/16 inch thick. These pieces are bent and flared at one end
and set far enough apart on a handle that the steels will slip
over and fit around a stalk cf cane. The handle is about :3
feet long. The stripper removes the cane leaves with a single
downward stroke of the implement. This tool has been found
I ie. I .li idl -flb hli.Il *441 141"4 il .1 raI ii by on, or twa. t horen.
Tihl 114 I t'. e -t r i S thr"tinel (ti' slot in Ih*l %vo1 olen f: .e. Tihe .uie- rinm,
Il ..... I oter. inito the e *lntinxllg Ail.way al hi )()t(" )l :llltl fi n-lll| IIINNPe illtl)
<.4l>Itl lill..rr ;1- (ll, I f,
very useful and practical Ly many farmers. (See Figure 8.)
The tops ale cut off with a ,;harp knife. Then the stalks;
are cut down with a short-handled hoe and thrown into piles
from which they are later loaded into wagons or trucks which
carry them to the mill. At the mill they are passed between
powerful steel rollers which extract the juice. The iuice is in
turn passed to the boiler or cooking kettle.
Mills of various makes are in use. These mills :,re similar
22 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
in design but vary in capacity according to the acreage of
cane grown. The vertical horse-power mill has a capacity of
from 25 to 75 gallons of juice per hour. Heavier mills cper-
ated by steam or gasoline power have a capacity of from 125
to 500 gallons of juice per hour. In large syrup factories the
capacity of the mills is much greater.
Where one has four acres or less to grind, and there are
few general farmers who have more, the small one- or two-
hcrse mill should handle the crop. But where there are more
than four acres, perhaps a more elaborate grinding equip-
ment should be provided. A gasoline engine may be the most
desirable and economical source of pcwer for the large mill.
To save labor and for convenience, a mill should be located
Fi lii. (imcok.r of 4I l th .vi tY lspre snnim n itl tlhe sluil firnlm thiro lgrllut
Ille sKUltlr ct Ini ,ell. (tiiiioch thie. nre irrim ins"r i|rsmitrtltliiltely feIw rr T ei fire
1i o tile oUi oii11Mile sid r from tIhe render, thle (imokin_ kettle oir vnt I" In Ithe
i-inIter. i.mIlklr %atlrLk is n lo l ni-r Mille.. Ti thie l frvsmi lef Im I* o trothlili for
lIl.l.inr syo'rn|. Thil#, h rrerloo hlol Julvs.
cn a slope. This makes it easy to unlcad the cans from th?
vwagcn to the platform. It also gives opportunity to locate the
collecting vats on the lcwer side of the mill, so that no pump-
:ng or lifting is necessary to take the juice from the mill to
the evaporating pan or kettle. Much labor is involved in
yvrup making and much thought should be directed to lighten
the work. All necessary conveniences should be carefully
planned so there will be no delay or unnecessary waste of
time and labor.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRCIULTURE 2:8
COOKING THE JUICE
Cooking primarily is the driving cut of most of the water
content of the juice and the destroying of any organisms
which might cause souring or decomposition. Certain chemi-
cal changes also take place. This cooking is usually done in a
round-bottom kettle cr a flat-bottom evaporator either of
which is over a furnace whose fire is directed immediately
against the juice container. As the juice boils impurities rise
to the top and are removed as skimmings. The cocking is
ecntinucd until the right degree of thickness is reached when
the fire is removed and the syrup allowed to cool slcwly.
When it is dipped cut it is poured into some type of container,
being strained as it is p::ured through a tightly woven cloth
which removes any remaining waste or foreign particles. Thi
syrup should be put in tightly sealed cans, bottles, jars -r
barrels a.; socn as possible, while it is yet hot. About 7'-.
Fig. 11. COohing hlnious anmi cqliZmie,, nt or n2> mo:l1 s:i:rc:i:iv <;:,c ;'.':
P ::1;11. (;'. :* 3). A :) o. IO )
gallcon cf juice will equal 1 gallon of syrup.
In order to know when to stop cooking, the 'oldl time"
farmer studies the color and odor of the cooking juica. He
dips his dipper or skimmer in the hot juice, raises it high
over the boiler and watches the drop of the cooling liquid.
When it no longer falls off in round watery drops, but flakes
out just right into long thin strips, he knows the job has been
done, that he now has syrup.
Of course the modern and more accurate method is to use a
Baume syrup hydrometer. These may be purchased at most
farm-supply store:; for about S2. The density of the syrup i:;
24 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
measured by floating the hydrometer in a tall cylinder filled
with syrup (see Fig. 12). The hydrometer reading at the
top of the syrup indicates the density. If the hot syrup has a
reading of 33 degrees (Baume), the cooking should cease.
Cold syrup should show a reading of 38. Hot syrup weighs
11% pounds to the gallon. Cold syrup weighs, commercially,
12 pounds to the gallon.
The main portion of the small farm's syrup is for home
consumption. In most cases a surplus is available for sale on
the local market, or to merchants in nearby towns. Occasion-
ally a farmer who makes especially good syrup places his
surplus in sealed cans, attractively labels them and places
them on the market as a specialty. Where the surplus is
great (several hundred gallons) or the quality not so good, it
is customarily stored in barrels and sold wholesale to mer-
chants or commission houses. The price paid for barrel syrup
usually ranges from 20 to 40 cents a gallon. However, a fine
quality syrup that has a desirable flavor, put up in attractive
cans, may bring as high as $1.25 a gallon, though half this
price perhaps is a fair average.
Farmers frequently have trouble with syrup in storage. It
may ferment and "work." Or it may crystallize and form
lumps of sugar in the container. Certain precautions will go
far to prevent such troubles.
Cook the syrup carefully. Keep an even degree of heat in
the furnace. Ccok to the right stage of density. Do not
Sterilize syrup containers. Plenty of hot water is effective
for this. Unless the container is sterilized fermentation is
apt tc take place, causing souring and "working" of the
Store the syrup in a cool place. Handle and agitate as little
as possible. If these precautions are taken, there is the max-
imum possibility of a superior product which will be tasteful
and of high quality that will be good for a long time.
One other point, though it has already been suggested, is
the attractive labeling of the containers. This, of course, is
DEPARTMENT CF AGRCIULTURE 25
most important when the syrup is sold as a specialty. There
is no justification in hiding a superior product in a plain can
on the back of the shelf or under the counter. You can not
expect the buyer to take any interest in your syrup, unless
you 'bring it to his attention in an appealing manner.
Make a high quality product. Impress the buyer with it.
Charge him a reasonable price. He will come back for more.
He will send others. Satisfied customers means more busi-
YIELDS OF JUICE AND SYRUP
Yields of sugarcane vary, but the usual yield is from 7 to
12 tons per acre on the lighter uplands and from 15 to 35
tons cn the heavier muck soils. A yield of 20 tons per acre
should reasonably be expected to produce 400 gallons of
syrup. Another factor playing a big part in the yield of syrup
is the type of mill used for grinding the cane. The smaller
and lighter mills are not built substantially enough to extract
a high percentage of the juice. In general the larger the mill
the higher the percentage of juice extracted. Small mills of
the type commonly found on small farms remove only about
50 or 55 percent of the weight of the cane in juice. Larger
and more powerful mills may actually extract 80 percent or
more of the cane's weight in junce. This difference means
a loss that the average farmer is not in a position to bear.
Of course he may not get 80 percent extraction, but he might
equip himself so as to get at least 65 percent.
Yields per acre depend not only upon the tonnage and the
amount of juice extracted, but also upon the richness of the
juice. Sugar yields are, as a general estimate, calculated on
the basis of about 10 percent of the weight of the cane. This
estimate is for the average farm where only average mills
and methods are used.
Sugarcane is not without its insect enemies and diseases.
Red-rot is a disease confined largely to the inside of the
stalk. If an infected stalk is split open the inside will show
red disk-shape areas. The outsiidC of the stalk may n;t show
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
the disease. The young cane plants are usually infected from
the diseased seed pieces. Badly diseased plants often die.
Red-rot reduces the sucrose content of the growing cane.
Success in controlling the disease is
largely a matter of selecting and plant-
ing canes that are disease free.
The disease known as mosaic produces
a mottling or striping of the leaves of the
sugarcane plant, a condition familiar to
many planters. Affected plants are dis-
tinctly paler than healthy ones. The
green coloring matter is partially de-
stroyed and as a result plant growth is
retarded. Mosaic decreases the vigor of
the cane and undoubtedly causes a con-
siderable less. While the tonnage is re-
duced, little if any influence is noted on
the sucrose content of the juice. Cayana-
10 and Japanese sugarcanes show a
higher degree of resistance to this dis-
ease than do some cf the older and more
popular varieties. And others are being
tried out, several of which give promise
of being resistant to the disease. The
growing cf such resistant varieties is the
means of control.
Twz insects give considerable concern
to the sugarcane planter, particularly in
certain areas. The cane borer is a cater.
;pillar moth and it tunnels up and down
'n the sugarcane stalk, stunting the plant
C. 12. Isatu n, and weakening it so that the wind may
.,-,u,, ,,-......t,. blow it over or break it. Fungous dis-
i. ,y xt ..f r ~I cases may enter the plant tissues through
the same entrances used by this bcrer. There seems no par-
ti.culai- means of control. If its damages become too severe,
it may be necessary to discontinue growing cane for a few
DEPARTMENT CF AGRCIULTURE 27
A small worm called nematode causes a disease or condi-
tion known as rcot-knot which frequently is quite severe. It
also makes the plant more susceptibe to mosaic. It bores into
finest and most tender roots to feed, thereby stunting and
often actually killing the plant. Swollen places on the roots
appear as galls or knots. Growing nematcde-resistant plants
on the land is about the only practical method of control.
Thus sugarcane should be grown as part of a well-thought-
out crcp rotation system, especially if root-knot appears as a
trouble to be combatted. Crcp rotation also may aid in the
control of other troubles.
Up until a few years ago the largest individual acreages of
sugarcane in Flcrida were tc be found in the northwestern
Fir. 1:<. ll|ntr:utinrr 0h*. dliman:mt,. of root-knot on uI niEart-tnn r lnt tIo the
1,:t. .' t rl0 ;t :,re ~ w tl ini u iniif*l rohosl. ( Iltfltone lay ei. urltey ar I'litrid(aI
part of the state. However, during more recent years. ex-
tcnsive developments have appeared in southern Florida, par-
iiculaily in the Everglades. and bordering on the southern
shores cf Lake Okeechobce. Here are to be found vast areas
of muck lands which are growing enormous crops of sugar-
cane. The expansion of the industry in this vicinity is prin-
28 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
cipaliy fcr the production 3f sugar. Here the temperature is
mild enough that the crop can be grown for more than one
-ear from a single planting. Commercial plantings in the
Ev.-rgiades now (July, 1931) total 23,000 acres, according to
authcntic reports. The present annual increase in the plant-
Ings is reported to be about 2,000 acres. If this rate of in-
crease continues very long, it is easy to see what a factor
Florida will become in the sugar world.
Two large sugar mills are already in operation at Clewiston
and Canal Point. Thcse mills are equipped with the latest
and mcst modern machinery for handling the crop in every
stage of production and in the manufacture of sugar. The
machines are able to satisfactorily do the woik of a large
force of hand laborers.
The main product in this expansion program is sugar, of
course. However, there are also by-products of no small im-
portance. Molasses or blackstrap is useful for stock feeding.
The cane pulp or bagasse is valuable in the manufacturing of
wall board (cclotex), a comparatively new building ccmmod-
In preparing this publication the writer is under many ob-
ligations to Profs. A. P. Spenrer and P. H. Senn and Dr. O.
C. Bryan of the Florida College of Agriculture for furnishing
information and for reading and criticising the manuscript.
Several halftones were lent by the Florida Agricultural Ex-
tension Service. And a number of photographs were con-
tributed by the United States Department of Agriculture and
the Seaboard Air Line Railway.
Ti'irIs ('iTllrier I'rint. M:Irim:llll, T :i.