Heirloom Sugarcane Varieties
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 ?