Juiced sugarcane stalks make delicious drinks, and they’re fun to grow in a garden or on a farm. Sugarcane is native to parts of Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and India and thrives in U.S. gardening zones nine and ten.

Depending on your location and seasonal conditions, you can plant sugarcane from late July through October. Enjoy a successful crop this year with these basic tips for growing and harvesting sugarcane.

Prepare the Soil and Sugarcane Cuttings

Choose a planting area in full sun. Prepare the soil for sugarcane by removing weeds, rocks, or debris. Improve the soil’s fertility by adding organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure.

You can propagate sugarcane using stem cuttings. Cut sugarcane into pieces between six and twelve inches long. Ensure the cuttings are healthy, disease-free, and have a few buds—the “joints” where sugarcane segments meet—the new sugarcane will grow from them.

Dig Furrows and Plant the Cuttings

You can plant the sugarcane cuttings horizontally or vertically. Completely cover the cuttings with soil when planting horizontally. If you plant them vertically, do so with about one-third of the cutting above the ground.

Horizontal Planting

Dig furrows four inches deep. Use a spade rather than a shovel to make digging easier. Moisten the furrows, then make sure the water drains completely and leaves no puddles.

Lay the sugarcane horizontally in the furrow. Then, cover the cuttings with soil. The sprouts will appear in one to three weeks.

Vertical Planting

Prepare the soil as directed above. Then, dig a hole deep enough in each furrow to bury two-thirds of the cutting. Finally, place the cutting in the hole, and fill the hole with soil.

Water Your Sugarcane Weekly

You must give your plants one to two inches of water a week. However, those watering requirements might change based on your location’s growing conditions.

Weeds compete with sugarcane for moisture and nutrients and can affect its growth, especially in the earliest stages. You can remove weeds by using a hand hoe.

Hand-Harvesting Tips

After about 12 months, your sugarcane should be mature and ready to harvest. You’ll need a sharp blade to cut through the thick, hard stalk. A large cutting blade from a hardware shop can make cutting easier.

Cut the sugarcane near the ground using a sawing motion rather than hacking. One key tip for growing and harvesting sugarcane is not cutting into the roots. The roots you leave will grow the next crop.

Clean and Juice the Stalks

Finally, strip the stalks of their leaves using your hands or a blade. Place the leaves and some mulch over the sugarcane roots to protect them during the winter. Wipe the canes clean, then cut them into pieces that are eight to twenty inches long for juicing.

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