Heirloom Sugarcane Varieties

sugarcane52September 29, 2006

There are numerous sugarcane varieties that have been used for chewing,juice,candy-making,syrup production and sugar production. Many of these varieties have either become extinct or rare due to several factors. The commercial sugar growers are only interested in varieties that produce more sugar per acre,therefore ALL of the breeding programs look for better disease resistance,higher yield and more sugar. Therefore,heirlooms are often ignored and not preserved for their particular qualities for future generations. Also new varieties from government breeding programs which may have merit for chewing,syrupmaking or ornamental value wind up being destroyed.

Several heirlooms exist for chewing,some of which can be peeled easily with the fingernails,for example ! Others have colorful,ornamental leaves and/or stalks--like Pele's Smoke which has pretty purple foilage. Striped Ribbon cane used for chewing and syrup has pretty stripes in the stalk.Old heirloom varieties include : Home Green,White Transparent,Green German,Ribbon,Louisiana Purple,Kokea,Cayana,and POJ to name a few.

The only 2 major variety collections in the U.S. are in Miami,FL and Houma,LA. Hawaii has a nice collection,but restrictions won't allow "importation" to the mainland ! But,sadly these collections are dwindling also due primarily to lack of interest and lack of funding. A few Botanical Gardens may have a few varieties,also.

I'm wondering if gardeners have some heirloom sugarcanes in their garden and would be interested in preserving them for the future . Anyone out there interested ?

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Does anybody know where I buy some Heirloom Sugar Cane to plant?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 10:22PM
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How would one go about getting some id'd? I have some but don't know its variety. I got it from the produce stand in town that grows it outside his business but doesn't know its variety. trudyjean

    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 7:18PM
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safety1 :
You may find sugarcane available at produce stands whenever in season. That would be your best source that I know of since you live in a foreign country. It is also a pretty good source for people who live in the U.S. also. Some stands sell the stalk,juice,and syrup. Asian markets are good sources for sugarcane as well as Mexican markets.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 10:16AM
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trudyjean82 :
It is rather difficult to find someone to help identify a variety of sugarcane. That's why it is so important to keep up with the name to begin with. But obviously, not every one is interested in names so identities become lost frequently. Names are useful to help keep track of characteristics of a variety.
I've tried for about 3 years to have an old heirloom green chewing cane identified with no success yet. It may be so old that no one living knows its original name.
Some varieties are renamed in different growing areas or countries. Often the new name is a translation to the country's language but sometimes not.
Many varieties have been around for centuries, however these are becoming extinct because of breeding and selection of new varities by researchers in the last hundred years or so. There are perhaps 10's of thousands of hybrid varieties in existence now and many thousands are bred--though not selected--each year. So maybe this can give you some idea why even a sugarcane 'expert' wouldn't want to try to tackle identifying a variety ! People who know old named sugarcane varieties are ,too, sadly becoming extinct along with the varieties.
The best available information that I know of on the web would be the ARS-GRIN website which lists over 1000 varieties with some descriptions of most of those varieties.Use the link and scroll down to Saccharum officinarum and click on it for variety lists and links to descriptions.
So good luck on identifying varieties !

Here is a link that might be useful: ARS-GRIN

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 7:37PM
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marylandmojo(zone 7--Md.)

sugarcane 52: An interesting topic, and I hope you get some response from those in the South. For those of us north of North Carolina, we're pretty much in the dark as to sugar cane. Just for your information, I used to travel down to Florida for many years, when my mother lived in the Palm Beach area. On I-95, in South Carolina and Georgia, there were cleaning crews that kept the rest areas tidy, (no doubt employed by the state), and members of these crews used to sell sugar cane, of all things, to people who stopped to use the rest area. Sort of a sideline for them, I imagine, but I've bought brightly-colored sugar cane from them, which they identified as chewing varieties, and transported it north. They had a rather brisk business, as most Northerners had never seen sugar cane sold, and many would buy the cane from them.

Do you run across any old cane "mills" in your area? People used to grow sorghum cane in Virginia many years ago, but it seems to be way too much work, these days, so most have abandoned the practice, particularly on a small scale. I managed to find an old mill this past year, as I grew some sorghum and processed it. The mill was barely useable, but I made it work. I also wondered if there were any around that weren't in disrepair from non-use--I know sugar cane and sorghum cane are milled the same, to obtain the juice. In fact the old mill I found was a sugar cane mill--a very rudimentary one, made for small-scale production (the kind that make you wonder why you ever grew the cane). :-) I'd like to find one in good working order.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 12:45PM
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taffyj(8b LA)

Hmmm... I am becoming interested in heirloom garden plants, and have been interested in sugar cane for a while now. I live in Louisiana, and didn't know there was a sugarcane collection in Houma. I'll have to go check it out this summer. If I do, I'll report back to y'all.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 4:06PM
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I would suggest looking on the Syrupmakers forum for a mill or at Southernmatters.com . The latter should have a link to mills for sale.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 7:46AM
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I have some hard to find heirloom chewing cane.

- Purple Ribbon (stripped purple and green)
- Home Green or Gerogia Green (all green then ages to golen yellow with red blushes)
- Lousisana Purple (all purple cane_
- Georgia Red (all red cane)

email me inf interested, I have some plants for sale

palmtreeluke at gmail.com

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 11:16AM
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A few miles from my place in north florida there is a museum farm with a working cane mill. I believe somebody grows cane there - I was there in winter so didn't see any.

I would like to get some chewing cane to try to grow there.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 7:38AM
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Seeking heirloom or named varieties of sugarcane. Please email me at jp67jkhf@yahoo.com with Sugarcane in the subject line. We will be trading or buying sugarcane in the 2011 to 2014 growing years. We only have 1 variety that came from ebay.

This variety is purple and did well until the drought/extreme heat when it stoped growing. By doing well I mean as a novice this cane produced 2 1 meter canes and a smaller cane in USDA Zone 7. Some stock will be availalbe for trade in 2012.

Plans for overwintering next year include 1) a mound of pine straw with the cane in the middle, a layer of plastic above the pinestraw and several inches of dirt on top of the plastic. 2) Another set of roots will be left in the ground and heavily mulched - 2 feet or more. 3) The last bit of cane we bring in for the winter.

We are also looking for experienced cane growers and would like to develop a network of sugarcane growers and others interested in sugarcane.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 6:58AM
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hi all...
i would love to get a sugarcane site started ,,, i am in a banana site called banana.org there is a few of us in it now.....it is a very detailed site &i would love to get one like it for sugarcane.. i have around 4 red 3purple 1 green &a yellow &2 striped canes .part is being raised in pots due to the winter coming on here &the other part is in rows appox 8-9" underground. i am hot on the trail of some jamaican striped cane that is in south fla,but cant seam to get any of it as of yet.There needs to be more post in this site &LETS GET OUR HEADS TOGETHER &START A SITE!!!!!I have a some pics of some of my cane on my facebook if anyone cares to look at itjust email me @ eyesonyou007@live.com...have a great day,,,,,

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 11:46PM
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hi ... has anyone had a problem with something called red rust in or on the leaves of there sugarcane?
contact me if u have...@ eyesonyou007@live.com

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 9:55PM
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well i see no one even comes in here,,,,,anyone know of a fourm that`s active?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 10:24PM
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Does any know the name of the variety that peels by hand?
Thank you

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 3:13PM
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This site has a lot of useful information on sugar cane- growing, diseases, names, IDs, etc. I was looking for heirloom LSU purple, and found this site. I did, somewhere on their site, see diseases and they mentioned something like the red rust "eyesonyou 8" mentioned. I'm interested in growing the heirloom sugar cane ( and bananas, for that matter!) and we are creating a community garden along the drainage ditches in our community, as well as dryer places for other heirloom crops.
I just got some sweet green Asian sugar cane cuttings to start with. No name to them.
Anyone with cuttings for LSU purple, or other heirloom sugar canes... can you contact me about procuring cuttings?
WE are doing strictly non-GMO heirloom seeds/ cuttings/ plants on our community garden on the island. Any help/ suggestions are welcome.

Here is a link that might be useful: LSU sugar cane link/ portal

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 10:17AM
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This is a site from LSU ( they have a sugar cane research department) about diseases. They have extensive links for sugarcane growing, identification, diseases, etc. Well worth looking in to.

Here is a link that might be useful: Impact of Brown Rust in SugarCane

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 10:40AM
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cathys1951(z8 GA)

Could someone please contact me that has any heirloom cane for sale. Really looking into having a few varieties in my garden. I will try to contact each that have posted for sale, but just in case I can't get ahold of anyone.
Thanks Cathy

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 4:07PM
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I have expanded my green house up here in Indiana and would like try my hand with growing some heirloom sugar cane.
I would appreciated any help I am new to growing sugar cane , willing to pay or trade.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 11:30PM
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