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Sugar cane

Water requirements

Sugar cane needs sunlight, water and heat. If there is not enough water, the cane fields are irrigated (Australia, countries south of the Sahara, west of Reunion Island, etc.).
It’s a perennial plant, which means that it doesn’t need to be planted every year. The cane grows back after each harvest. After 5 or 6 “regrowths”, the old plants are pulled up and a “new cane” is replanted.
The sugar cane multiplies by cutting portions of stem which are buried horizontally. As the plant grows, the sugar builds up in the stem to a maximum called “maturity”; this is the ideal time to harvest.
The sugar cane’s water requirements are on average around 1500 mm per year. However, sugar cane may also be grown in less favourable regions if a good irrigation system is put in place. The soil must be rich, heavy and quite porous to enable good water penetration and conservation, but it must also be well drained for the plant’s quite large root system to develop under good conditions.
The plant grows gradually, initially quite slowly, and gently picks up speed until the start of the ripening phase where growth slows down again. The cane’s flowering will depend significantly on the environmental conditions, and particularly on the quantity of water provided, the soil’s nitrogen content and the daily amount of sunlight.