Propagation of Sugar Cane and Pineapple

Boca_Joe(zone 7A)October 8, 2005


Any basic hints on propagating sugar cane Pelee's Smoke and pineapple starts to overwinter in greenhouse for next year's crop?


Boca Joe

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Well, I just dug up my sugarcane and split it... it wasn't happy... not the right season for doing this, but oh well, I am moving! :o) Make sure you keep it warm and damp!
Now, pineapples make thier own offshoots, so if they have done this, then you separate them and pot them and keep them warm and damp till rooted.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 11:18AM
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CoralCoast_Tropicals(z11 Qld, Aust)

Sugarcane is easiest done by cane cuttings. This part of Queensland is one of the largest sugar growing areas in Australia and most cane is grown from 'billets' which are pieces of mature cane up to 1ft long placed horizontally in the ground and lightly covered. They normally start growing within a couple of weeks in ideal conditions. Here propagation is done year round but I don't know anything about your climate.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 7:17AM
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The method Andrew described for sugar cane is how my father used to do it in south GA when I was growing up. He would take the stalks after he cut them in the fall and store them under a heavy layer of pine straw and dirt for the winter. In the spring, he would take the whole stalk and lay it in a trench a couple of inches deep and cover it with soil. Within a few weeks there would be shoots growing from the eyes located at the joints on the stalk. The cane always had plenty of time to mature from the time it was planted (late-March) and the time of the first frost (mid-November). Just thinking about it makes me want some cane syrup and pancakes.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 9:45AM
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Eggo(z10soCal LBC)

How do you make cane syrup? Anyone know how to juice this thing? Would one of those juice machine work or will it probably be too tough? I seen a machine once that juiced sugar cane, it pretty much crush the stalks. The fresh juice was great.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 2:39PM
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Eggo-The way we extract the juice in south GA is to run the stalk through a large device that squeezes the stalk between 2 very large and very heavy cast iron rollers. The juice runs out as the stalk is squeezed and travels through a depression in the boards that holds the large rollers. The really traditional way to do this is to use a mule to pull a long boom attached to the top of the rollers. As the mule walks the rollers turn and the cane is fed into the rollers. I agree with you the fresh juice is excellent (especially when chilled).

You make the syrup by cooking the juice until it reaches a certain specific gravity (or you can do it by temperature also). At that point you have boiled off enough of the water that it will be thick when cooled. (If you are interested let me know and I can find out what temperature or specific gravity it is you shoot for.) You can do this at home in a large pot in the kitchen but it takes a long time and good bit of heat. The traditional way to do this part of the process is to use a boiling system that has a large cast iron pot set in a firebrick assembly where you build a wood fire in the assembly and cook the juice down in the pot. If you do this, it is pretty cool. As the juice reaches a certain point in the cooking process you will notice that some insoluble bits of cane stalk will rise to the surface. Skim this off and keep on cooking. This makes me think about my childhood.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 3:55PM
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Eggo(z10soCal LBC)

Thanks GAtrops, that's the device that juice the cane, two huge metal rollers. How much are one of those things? It sure beats chewing on them. This makes me thirsty.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 7:04PM
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This is the way I do it . I cut the top part of the sugar cane and let half of it sit in water until I notice the small "shoot" and roots , usually in 3-4 days, then I plant it with the "shoot" facing up and cover the roots with lots of soil, the more soil the more sugar cane.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 8:38PM
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Eggo-I don't know of anyone who makes those large rollers any longer. My father had a 'sugar cane mill' when I was gowing up but he no longer uses it. He just chews the cane to get the juice. (I guess it helps burn some of the calories and you get some good fiber in the process.) He got his rollers (which were pretty old at the time) from a friend of a friend. Sugar cane mills used to be very common in south GA but they are hard to find now.

I don't know if a juicer would work or not. I imagine it would clog pretty quickly with all the cellulose in the cane stalk.

Have you ever tasted sugar cane syrup? It is kind of strong in flavor (like molasses) but I think it is delicious.

Here is a link that might be useful: Here's an interesting link to sugar cane syrup production

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 9:27PM
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I do want to say, Yes, sugarcane roots okay when it is propagated during the warm season, but I had a hard time getting it to root when it was cold.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 4:08PM
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Eggo(z10soCal LBC)

GA,thanks for the great info, I've never had sugar cane syrup. Sounds tasty though. But first thing is figuring out how to juice this thing. I have access to a patch of sugar canes but never really bother with them much, there's only so much you could chew. =) I will try the juice tiger, blender, thingy and see how long it lasts before clogging up.
Heathen, good luck on the sugarcane. Did you dig any up?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 10:32PM
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brian_k(z6 OH)

Maybe you could back up your car over the stalks, and catch the runoff at the end of the driveway. That'll help keep your immune system working too:)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 1:40PM
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Eggo(z10soCal LBC)

LOL, good idea but I'll pass on it. There may be too much minerals produced that way for me.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 2:46PM
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Where does one buy sugarcane? I have looked for some to grow and the only one I found was at Green Arrow 5-gallon for $30 -- not going that route! Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 10:20AM
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eyeckr(z8a VA)

Eloise, how about a trade? Check your e-mail.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 11:09AM
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I dug up the sugar cane and split it 3 ways... 2 of them survived... :o) Which is fine, I only need one. I got my sugarcane off of eBay. They sent me 3 sticks, one rooted.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 1:04PM
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I take that back, I just went out and looked... though one isn't doing well, all 3 survived.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 1:06PM
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Eggo(z10soCal LBC)

That's great to hear. Have you tasted any of them so far? All of you are making me thirsty. I wish I had a fresh glass of cane juice right now! I'm really gonna have to go get those sugar canes this weekend.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 10:01PM
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yes... very sweet! :o)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 12:06AM
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Sugar cane should start appearing in the Mexican markets soon. It is used during the Xmas season to flavor punches. A whole nice fresh green stalk should run about $2.00. The small cuttings will not work  a whole stalk will have plenty of nodes to work with.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 6:36AM
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I live in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area, and a few years ago I was able to get hold of a stalk of sugar cane from a neighbor (they were thinning out the plant in their yard and had some surplus). I cut up the stalk (the pieces had good nodes on them) and planted them in a 15-gallon pot, indoors. They rooted and grew successfully, but soon died for lack of space (one might as well try to grow field corn in a flower pot). Outside, in the ground, it would have done fine.

In just a few weeks some produce markets in my neighborhood will be selling whole stalks of sugar cane (Berkeley Bowl and Rockridge Market Hall, in Oakland, both have carried it).

It's a real treat!


    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 3:35PM
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flound_1129(10a/sunset17 CA)

Hey GreenThumb, where did you see sugar cane growing in the east bay? I had no idea it was possible.. I'm in the fremont area..

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 7:59PM
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patusho25(z11 Mexico)

Oh indeed, the sugar cane drink is delicious with some ice cubes; in here there are thousands of sugar cane acres, I used to drink it more often when I was younger, and often stopped at the road to pick up some of the long sugar cane sticks that fell of the tractors that carried it and began to chew it.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 2:53AM
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I've seen sugar cane grown (as a food/ornamental grass) in the following areas:
(1) near Fremont BART (Sunset Zone 17);
(2) in North Oakland (Sunset Zone 16/17); and
(3) in Walnut Creek, near Walnut Creek BART (Sunset Zone 14).

The most recent edition (2001) of the Sunset Western Garden Book includes information on sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum) culture, for Zone 24. But it's really more widely adapted than that. I think in our area (barring any frost), it should reach about 6 feet in height, not the 12 to 20 feet it would reach in a true subtropical (Louisiana/Texas/Florida) or tropical (Hawaii) climate, but still not bad, and certainly enough to grow some good sweet juicy stalks for chewing.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 12:00PM
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Sugar cane is very easy to propagate from cuttings about a foot in length and simply pushed into a gallon pot of potting soil and kept moist. Pele's smoke has proven to be super easy. I have 7 or 8 different varieties. Some are renown for chewing others for their syrup quality and some for their beauty. Fresh cane juice is excellent and very good for you too.....I like mine with a twist of lime.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 4:41PM
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I live on the west coast of Florida in Venice, just south of Sarasota. I do not know the vegetation zone; we very rarely get frost in the winter. I want to progagate some sugar cane, my "soil" is 98% sand and little else. Should I use any mulch, fertilizer, top soil, whatever? Please advise. Thanks. Warren in Venice, FL

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 4:18PM
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barbcoleus(z10 Cape Coral,Fl)

I wonder if you could use an old fashion washing machine wringer if you find one to squeeze the juice out of it.
ummm My grandmother told me about these washers.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 7:55PM
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Yes, perhaps if were the soft chewing varieties of sugarcane. I once saw a small cane mill at Hudson, Florida owned by an individual that looked like 3 or 4 rubber washing machine rollers(wringers) in series making a cane mill. You could rerun the 'cane for more juice. I have never seen another 1 like it.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 8:03PM
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Warren-kayaker - nothing much to it here on siesta key. Put it in the ground as a three ft transplant from a 3gal container. It'll grow to be pretty large in diameter, so plan for at least 4'x4'. I use 2" pine mulch and a 50/50 mix of native/potting soil. Water deep weekly. 2-3lbs fertrell fertilizer (3-2-7) every once in a while (i.e. 2-3mo)
Grows clear up to the sky :-)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 10:12PM
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GAtrops-Reading what you said about harvesting sugarcane made me reminisce on my days of young in North Florida. Every year the Ryan Farm (Family friends) would harvest tons of sugarcane. Us kids would take turns driving the small tractor around in circles pulling a thick rope attached to a telephone pole "boom". The boom was attached to a vertical shaft that turned two rollers or laminators. The kids had to be careful not to stop the tractor too fast, because the boom was so heavy and had so much intertia that it would keep coming and knock the back of their heads. I may have been the only kid to get hit by the boom, but I cant remember because I got hit by the boom too many times. When harvest began, it went on for days, 24 hours a day. Men would take shifts cooking the juice and skimming the top, sneaking sips of the overflow which firmented quickly, helping to ease the boredom of stirring the pot. Down in the Bible Belt, you're supposed to throw away the skim, not imbibe in it. At least thats what most of the men's wives thought. The women busily bottled the syrup for storage and sale. Looking back, it was always fun for us kids at harvest, but I now have an even greater appreciation of those harvest days. I now grow sugarcane, and although i'm the only one that eats it in the house, that taste takes me back every time.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 2:24PM
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Boca_Joe(zone 7A)

what a great story. Thanks JonJfarr

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 8:55PM
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steiconi(12a-Big Island, HI)

I cut the stalks about 18" long so they fit into plant flats, and plant them horizontally. My "black" sugar cane is just coming up now, several shoots from each length.

If you're starting pineapple from tops, it works better to twist the top off instead of cutting it off--less flesh to rot. Let it dry a few days, then plant in mulch-rich soil.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 3:50PM
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