Saccharum officinarum L.
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
- Chemical Analysis of Biomass Fuels
Cane sugar, cane syrup, molasses, wax, and rum are products of sugarcane.
Molasses is used as a sweetener, in industrial alcohol, for explosives,
synthetic rubber, and in combustion engines. Fresh cane stems are often
chewed, especially by poorer people. Sugar is used as a preservative for
fruits and meats; cane is also made into a liqueur. The young unexpanded
inflorescence of 'tebu telur' is eaten raw, steamed or toasted, and prepared in
various ways. Refuse cane (bagasse) is used in the manufacture of paper,
cardboard, and fuel. The reeds are made into pens, mats, screens, and thatch.
Sugar is a common adjunct to unpleasant medicines. Some races are considered
magical and are used ceremoniously. The saw edge of the sugar cane leaf is
used to scar the skin, in preparation of tatooing. A mixture of bagasse and
molasses (Molascuit) is used as cattle feed. The ground and dried cane (after
juice has been expressed) makes an excellent mulch and can be baled and shipped
economically, because of its light weight.
Reported to be antidote, antiseptic, antivinous, bactericide, cardiotonic,
demulcent, diuretic, intoxicant, laxative, pectoral, piscicide, refrigerant,
and stomachic. It is a folk remedy for arthritis, bedsores, boils, cancer,
colds, cough, diarrhea, dysentery, eyes, fever, hiccups, inflammation,
laryngitis, opacity, penis, skin, sores, sore throat, spleen, tumors, and
wounds (Duke and Wain, 1981). Powdered sugar is used as a 'drawing' agent for
granulations and "proud flesh" (Hartwell, 19671971) and, in a 1:3 solution in
water, for gonorrhea and vaginal discharges (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962).
The pulped sugar cane is used to dress wounds, and the cane for splints for
broken bones; the Malay women use it in childbirth. A decoction of the root of
the race of 'tebu lanjong' is used for whooping cough; and the cane juice is
given for catarrh. It is used in elephant medicine; the juice is used to 'make
an elephant sagacious', and in a poultice for sprains (Burkill, 1966). In
India, the plant as well as its juices are used for abdominal tumors.
Per 100 g, the inflorescence is reported to contain 25 calories, 91.0 g water,
4.6 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 3.0 g total carbohydrate, 1.0 g ash, 40 mg Ca, 80 mg
P, 2.0 mg Fe, 0 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.08 mg thiamine, 50 mg ascorbic
acid. Per 100 g, the leaf is reported to contain 75 calories, 77.5 g water,
1.8 g protein, 0.8 g fat, 17.7 g total carbohydrate, 3.0 g fiber, 2.0 g ash;
the stem, per 100 g, is reported to contain 62 calories, 82.5 g water, 0.6 g
protein, 0.1 g fat, 16.5 g total carbohydrate, 3.1 g fiber, 0.3 g ash, 8 mg Ca,
6 mg P, 1.4 mg Fe, 0 mg b-carotene, 0.02 mg thiamine, 0.01 mg riboflavin,
0.10 mg niacin, 3 mg ascorbic acid (Duke and Atchley, 1984). Per 100 g, the
hay is reported to contain, on a zero-moisture basis, 2.6 g protein, 1.2 g fat,
92.1 g total carbohydrate, 43.1 g fiber, 4.1 g ash, 3600 mg Ca (Miller, 1958).
The plant contains hydrocyanic acid. Sugarcane is a known teratogen; and is
known to stimulate somatic mutations (aneuploidy and polyploidy) in plants
(Lewis and Elvin-Lewis, 1977). Molasses, fed alone, or in large amounts with
other feed, may produce diarrhea, colic, kidney irritation, urticaria,
exanthema, leminitis, malanders, profuse sweating and paralysis, in domestic
stock. Horses seem to be very susceptible, and 1.25 kg daily for 3 weeks, has
proved fatal in some; unrefined sugar, also toxic to the horse, may prove
lethal. Twenty to fifty percent of unrefined sugar added to oat produces skin
swelling, weakness in the hind quarters, paralysis of the urinary bladder,
weakness of the heart, and sometimes, death (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962).
Culms 35 m tall, 23 cm thick, solid juicy, the lower internodes short,
swollen; sheaths greatly overlapping, the lower usually falling from the culms;
blades elongate, mostly 46 cm wide, with a very thick midrib; panicle
plumelike, 2060 cm long, the slender racemes drooping; spikelets about 3 mm
long, obscured in a basal tuft of silky hairs 23 times as long as the spikelet.
Reported from the Indochina-Indonesia and Hindustani Centers of Diversity,
sugarcane or cvs thereof is reported to tolerate anthracnose, bacteria,
disease, drought, fungus, herbicide, high pH, heavy soil, laterite, low pH,
mildew, sodium, pesticide, rust, sand, smut, virus, waterlog (Duke, 1978).
There are many varieties and they are sometimes divided into these races:
Mauritius, Otaheite, Bourbon, Batavian, China, Singapore, and Indian Cane. The
sugarcanes cultivated in the US are derived chiefly from four species and their
hybrids. In the Noble canes (S. officinarum, chromosomes 40), the axis
of inflorescence is without long hairs. Chinese canes (S. sinensis
Roxb., chromosomes 58 to 60), with long hairs on the axis of inflorescence, are
cultivated chiefly for syrup. S. barberi Jewsiet (chromosomes 45 or 46)
from northern India, differs from the last in having narrower blades and more
slender canes. The wild cane of Asia (S. spontaneum L., chromosomes
56), is used as a basis for hybrids with other species (Hitchcock, 1950).
Spurred by decline, investigators hybridized sugarcane. First attempts were
restricted to the production of seedlings from crossing different cvs of S.
officinarium. Modern cvs involve more interspecific hybridization; most
commercial cvs are now tri- or quadrispecific hybrids. Species involved are
S. officinarium, S spontaneum, S. sinese, and S. robustum.
Fertile progeny have been obtained from intergeneric crosses but no
germplasm other than Saccharum has entered commercial hybrids. Variety
development form crossing to commercial planting required from 1013 years for
testing and seed-cane increase (Irvine, 1981). (2n = 60, 80, 90)
Originated in the South Pacific Islands and New Guinea. Found throughout the
tropics and subtropics. In the US it is cultivated from Florida to Texas.
Sugarcane is cultivated as far as north as 36.7° (Spain) and as far south as
31° (South Africa) (Irvine, 1981).
Ranging from Warm Temperate Dry to Moist through Tropical Very Dry to Wet
Forest Life Zones, sugarcane is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of
4.7 to 42.9 dm (mean of 58 cases = 16.7), annual temperature of 16.0 to
29.9°C (mean of 58 cases = 23.7), and pH of 4.3 to 8.4 (mean of 49 cases =
6.3) (Duke, 1978, 1979). Occurs gregariously, growing in sunny areas, on soil
unsuitable to trees; needs aeration at the roots and grows in sand but not
loam, along sandy banks of rivers that change their course (Burkill, 1966).
Requires a hot humid climate, alternating with dry periods, and thrives best at
low elevations on flat or slightly sloping land, with stiff loamy or alluvial
soil; however, it flourishes in any ordinary good soil, provided the necessary
moisture is available (MacMillan, 1925). Sugarcane in commercial production
has endured a maximum of 53°C (127°F) and a minimum of -13°C (9°F).
The high is endured by standing cane and the low by overwintering stubble.
Standing stalks of sugarcane freeze at -4 to -5.5°C (25 to 22°F)
depending on cv and length of exposure. Sugarcane will survive and tiller at
temperatures below 21°C but stem elongation, which occurs at night, is
inhibited by lower temperatures. Saccharum tolerates occasional
flooding. While the total water requirement of sugarcane is high, utilization
efficiency is also high, with about 250 parts of water used for each part of
dry matter produced. Cane is grown on volcanic soils of Hawaii, alluvial soils
of Louisiana, muck soils of Florida, and on the bewildering variety of tropical
soils in Puerto Rico. There are seven types of sugarcane-growing soils: (1)
red soils, rich in iron and porous, but plastic when wet; (2) black soils with
a clay subsoil, poorly drained; (3) black soils, with a calcareous subsoil, and
highly productive; (4) brown clay loams with a stiff top soil, but responding
well to fertilization; (5) alluvial soils of enduring fertility and easy
cultivation; (6) sands and sandy loams of low fertility, well drained and of
easy cultivation; and (7) soils of organic origin (Irvine, 1981).
Propagated by stem cuttings, but seed produced in the tropics assist in the
production of cvs through hybridization. Lime in the soil is considered
beneficial for the proper development of the sugar content of the canes.
Manuring is indispensible as the crop is an exhausting one. It is generally
grown for many years in the same ground, without rotation or rest.
Harvesting commences, according to the cv and climate, 1220 months from time
of planting, the canes becoming tough and turning pale yellow when ready for
cutting. They are cut as close to the ground as possible, for the root end of
the cane is the part richest in sugar. The rhizomes will continue to crop for
at least 34 years, sometimes up to 8 or more years (MacMillan, 1925).
Sugarcane is cultivated in all tropical and subtropical regions. In terms of
biomass harvested (and transported), sugarcane is the world's largest crop with
691 million MT reported in 1977/78 (Irvine, 1981). In 1974, there were 592
million MT cane; 434 milk; 354, wheat; 324 corn, and 225 million MT rice in
world production (Irvine, 1981). In 1976, sugar consumption in the US was
almost 10 million tons (43 kg per capita) (Ricaud, 1980). In Louisiana alone,
the 1976 crop was worth $86 million to the grower, and another $134 million at
the processing, refining, and distribution levels. The theoretical maximum
yield is 280 MT/ha/yr cane and seven countries average more than 100 (Colombia,
Hawaii, Iran, Malawi, Peru, Rhodesia, and Swaziland). Australia, on small
plots, has attained more than 75% of the theoretical maximum.
According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b), annual productivity ranges from
25 to 94 MT/ha. Dry matter yield is reported as high as 73 MT/ha (Duke, 1978),
but Irvine (1981) notes that average DM yields are under 16 MT/ha/yr. In a
Brazilian trial, 236284 MT fresh material/ha were produced when fertilized
with NPK (Bogdan, 1977). Coombs and Vlitos (1978) estimate cane production at
100 MT/ha fresh weight, or 35 MT dry weight. One ton of cane will give 250 kg
bagasse which on burning produces 6000 kg of steam. About 4000 kg steam are
required to produce 60 to 70 liters alcohol/ton of cane, or 6000 liters
alcohol/ha. In 1979, the world low production yield figure was 2,941 kg/ha in
Yemen, international production was 56,041 kg/ha, while the world's high
production yield was 126,415 kg/ha (in Peru) (FAO, 1980a). The usual
conversion figure for calculating residues from production is 0.2. According
to Thring (Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London A. 1980. p. 487), if a farmer uses two
horses to work his land, it takes 2 acres (4/5 ha) to feed them, but if he uses
a 2 h.p. cultivator, operated on alcohol, from sugarcane, and castor oil, it
requires only 0.2 acre (4/50 ha) to work it, because he doesn't have to feed
his cultivator all the time. Maximum growth rate of sugarcane was 37
g/m2/day for an efficiency of 3.7% (percentage utilization of solar
radiation). Averaged out over the whole year, the efficiency is only 1%, in
Hawaii producing 67.3 MT/ha at the rate of 18 g/m2/day. With an
assumed yield of 44 MT/ha, a growing cost of 1621 Australian dollars/MT, and a
transport cost of $2/MT, the energy inputs in Australian sugarcane are
estimated to represent 717% of the crop's energy content. Figuring cost of
sugarcane at $15/MT, it is estimated to cost $359 to convert a ton to ethanol
($12.30 per GJ compared with $1.25/GJ for Kuwait Oil), i.e. 10 times as
expensive as oil as an energy source at the time (Boardman, 1980). Brazil is
producing large quantities of alcohol from sugarcane and plans to satisfy its
liquid fuel requirements with plant-derived alcohols. In Australia, it would
take 20 times more cane than they now have planted (20 x 3.3 x 105
ha) to satisfy Australia's total energy requirements (Boardman, 1980).
Recently, Hammond (1977) noted that Brazil, producing 800 million liters of
alcohol from cane, needed to augment production by 50 times to eliminate oil
imports. But cane requires good land, and is a seasonal crop, with a
harvesting period of no more than 100 days. Once cut, it must be processed
quickly, leaving the distilleries idle half the year. The residue coefficient,
defined as the ratio of the weight of dry matter of residue to recorded
harvested weight, ranges from 0.13 to 0.25 (NAS, 1977a). Gaydou et al (1982)
come up with surprising data suggesting that the oil from a hectare of oil
palms has more than twice the energy (ca 36,000 kwh/ha) of the alcohol produced
from a hectare of sugarcane (ca 16,000 kwh). Hopkinson and Day (1980) take a
cold look at energetics of sugarcane-ethanol production, comparing the net
energy benefit of gasoline from Gulf of Mexico oil at 6:1 to a loss for ethanol
produced from sugarcane burning fossil fuel to meet all industrial
requirements. With 50:50 mixtures of bagasse and fossil fuels, the ratio is
1.2:1 with all bagasse used 1.5 to 1.8:1. In Brazil, with lower energy inputs
and similar yields (ca 54 MT/ha) the ratio is 2.4:1 (21.3 x 106
kcal/ha/yr). A net yield of 53 tons/ha in Louisiana allows for ca 3,500 liters
of anhydrous alcohol, 13,250 kg bagasse, and 32,000 kg steam (12,500 more than
required for distillation). In Louisiana, sugar yields of nearly 5 MT ha are
energetically equivalent to ca 17,500,000 kcal. These results from kcal/ha
inputs of nearly 10,000,000, the ratio of output/input = 1.81. Slightly over
3,000,000 go for diesel, nearly 2 million for N, ca 1,300,000 for machinery,
800,000 for seed, 600,000 for herbicides, 550,000 for gasoline, 350,000 for
lime, 300,000 for P, 250,000 for K, 200,000 for insecticides, and 150,000 for
transportation (Ricaud, 1980). This relatively low ratio of energy
output/input should make us scrutinize more carefully Gaydou et al's (1982)
calculations showing the perennial oil palm producing nearly twice as much
energy per hectare as sugarcane.
Sugarcane is susceptible to the following viruses: cucumber mosaic, maize leaf
fleck, sugarcane mosaic, tulip breaking, wheat streak mosaic, chlorotic streak,
and sereh. These fungi have been reported from sugarcane: Allantospora
radicicola, Alternaria sp., Apiospora camtospora, Arthrobotrys suberba,
Aspergillus sp., A. flavus, A. fumigatus, A. herbariorum, A. nidulans,
A. niger, A. penicillioides, A. repens, A. sydowii, A. terreus, a form
of A. flavus designated as A. parasiticus on mealybugs
infesting cane, Asterostroma cervicolor, Ceratostomella adiposum, C.
paradoxa, Cercospora koepkei, C. vaginae, Chytridium sp., Cladosporium
herbarum, Clathrus columnatus, Colletotrichum falcatum, C. graminicola, C.
lineola, Corticium sasakii, Curvularia sp., Cytospora sacchari,
Endoconidiophora adiposa, E. paradoxa, Eriosphaeria sacchari, Fusarium
spp., Gibberella fujikuroi, Gloeocercospora sorghi, Gnomonia iliau, Graphium
sacchari, Helminthosporium sacchari, H. stenospilum, Himantia stellifera,
Hormiactella sacchari, Hypocrea gelatinosa, Ithyphallus rubicundis,
Leptosphaeria sacchari, Ligniera vascularum, Lophodermium sacchari, Macrophoma
sacchari, Marasmius sacchari, M. stenophyllus, Melanconium sacchari,
Microdiplodia melaspora, Mycosphaerella sacchari, M. striatiformans,
Myriogenospora aciculisporae, Nectria spp., Neurospora sitophila,
Nigrospora oryzae, Odontia saccharicola, Olpidium sacchari, Papularia
sphaerosperma, P. vinosa, Periconia sacchari, Phyllosticta sorghina,
Physalospora rhodina, P. tucumanensis, Phytophthora erythroseptica, Plectospira
gemmifera, Polyporus spp., P. occidentalis, P. sanguineus, P.
tulipiferus, Poria ambigua, Psilocybe atomatoides, Pythium spp., P.
arrhenomanes, P. graminicola, P. aphanidermatum, P. artotrogus, P. debaryanum,
P. dissotocum, P. helicoides, P. irregulare, P. mamillatum, P. monospermum, P.
periilum, P. rostratum, P. splendens, P. ultimum, P. vexans, Rhizoctonia
ferruginea, R. pallida, R. solani, Rosellinia paraguayensis, R. pulveracea,
Saccharomyces zopfii, Schizophyllum commune, Scirrhia 1ophodermioides,
Sclerotium rolfsii, Trichoderma lignorum, Tubercularia saccharicola,
Vermicularia graminicola, Xylaria apiculata, Nectria flavociliata, N.
laurentiana. The following nematodes have been reported on sugarcane:
Anguina spermophaga, Helicotylenchus sp. Heterodera spp.,
Hoplolaimus sp., Meloidogyne sp., Pratylenchus spp., P.
pratensis, Rotylenchus spp., R. similes, Scutellonema spp.,
Trichodorus christie, and Tylenchorhynchus spp. (Golden,
p.c. 1984). Bacteria include: Bacillus megatherium, B. mesentericus,
Xanthomonas albilineans, X. rubrilineans, X. rubrisubalbicans, and X.
vasculorum (Agriculture Handbook 165).
Analysing 62 kinds of biomass for heating value, Jenkins and Ebeling (1985)
reported a spread of 17.33 to 16.24 MJ/kg, compared to 13.76 for weathered rice
straw to 23.28 MJ/kg for prune pits. On a % DM basis, the bagasse contained
73.78% volatiles, 11.27% ash, 14.95% fixed carbon, 44.80% C, 5.35% H, 39.55% O,
.038% N, 0.01% S, 0.12% Cl, and undetermined residue.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
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solar energy utilization using carbohydrates produced by higher plant
photosynthesis as chemical feedstock. vol. 2. Proc. Internat. Solar Energy
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Last update Friday, January 9, 1998 by aw