Crops in Permaculture: Sugarcane
Updated: Apr 12
I have always been averse to planting crops which demand a lot of water, as our area has been drought ridden for the last 3-4 years. The last good monsoon was in 2012, and after that most of the ponds and pools we dug, are constantly thirsty for more water! At the same time, while we don't consume any white sugar, we do have jaggery in our diet. We were keen to make our own jaggery and have an annual supply for our requirements.
We identified a 1000 square yard plot on the farm and decided to plant sugarcane there. Sowing season for sugarcane is spring so we planted in March. It requires 25-32 deg Celsius for germination. Click here for a Sugarcane Farming Guide. We mulched it over immediately after sowing, as I did not want to water it any more than the bare minimum. Mulching helps contain evaporation losses, thereby reducing water consumption.
Contrary to popular fears that the plant will not germinate through the mulch, the sugarcane emerged strong and green by April.
By May the plants were about a foot or too high. Sugarcane is a long duration crop, and it encounters spring, summer, rains and winter in its life cycle.
By November, the sugarcane plant was almost eight feet high, thick and lush and will soon be ready for harvest. More about that in another post!