PRESS BULLETIN 125
Florlda Agricultural Experiment Stallon
PREPARING FOR CANE GRINDING
By C. K. McQuarrie
The proper preparation of the cane crop for grinding cuts quite a
figure in the net result of the syrup-making. Cane intended for syrup should
be allowed to grow as late in the season as possible. There is often rivalry
among farmers in certain communities as to who will have the first of
the season's syrup on the market, and the crop is often cut weeks ahead
of the time it should be cut. Syrup made from immature cane is of an
inferior quality in every way. We have then a poorer quality in the first
syrup on the market than we get later on when the crop is properly ma-
tured. Throughout northern and western Florida, the middle of November
is early enough to cut the crop. Should a slight frost occur before that
time it will not damage the cane for syrup-making purposes.
Stripping can be done any time after the first of October, and any odd
time at the farmer's command can be devoted to the job. There are several
good tools for this purpose on the market, and if the acreage is large it
pays one to buy these; but for the ordinary cane patch on most farms, a
piece of hoop iron will be found to do good work. All dead leaves should
be completely removed up to the first immature joint, and particular care
exercised that everything in the shape of trash be completely cleared away
from the roots, so that the stalks can be cut very close to the ground; for
the sweetest part of the cane is that next the ground.
This operation has quite an important bearing on both the quality and
quantity of the syrup. If we cut close to the mature joints and leave no
green joints for grinding, we are apt to be troubled with sugaring of the
syrup. The green or immature joints contain glucose which tends to pre-
vent this sugaring, so one or two immature joints should be left when top-
ping. The number of green joints left depends on the length of the canes.
As a general rule to go by, one may leave a green joint for every ten ma-
tured ones, on ordinary-sized canes.
When we come to the cutting, we want to use a sharp tool that will
make a clean slanting cut. Why slanting? Because if otherwise the butt
October 2, 190.
of the stalk will be more or less splintered, and if laid away for some time
before grinding, that joint will have some sour sap in it, which we do not
want. The ordinary cane knife is not a good tool for cutting down cane,
in that it can not cut close enough to the ground. A light well-sharpened
hoe will be found the best for this purpose, and handled by a man who
knows how to use it, will do excellent work. There should be two hands
working together, one cutting down the canes, and the other removing the
cut canes out of the way. This saves time.
What is meant by this expression is the laying away of the cut cane
in rows or piles to wait until grinding time. Quite a number of our syrup-
makers do not practice this-they grind as they cut. But where a large
acreage is grown, it is impossible to get enough help to keep the cutting
and grinding going at the same time; so the crop has to be laid away and
covered up with leaves and trash to keep out the cold. In laying it away,
unless the crop is an extra heavy one, piles containing about 600 canes
each are recommended, laid as smoothly as possible, and well covered to
protect them from frost.
Grinding immediately after cutting is not to be recommended, let the
crop be large or small. Syrup made from cane laid away for a month or
two is superior to that made from new-cut cane. The sap seems to mature,
and it takes less of it to make syrup. For instance, it will require ten
gallons of sap from newly cut cane to make one gallon of 34 degree
syrup; while seven gallons of sap, from cane windrowed for two months,
will make one gallon of syrup of a superior quality to the other, providing
the cane has been thoroughly protected from cold weather.
(Cane Grinding, next week.)
State papers please copy.