Sugar cane can be grown from seeds but all commercial plantings are made from stalk cuttings of two to three joints. These cuttings are known as 'setts'.
(a) Ratoon Cropping is another way of growing a new crop of sugar cane. After the cane has been cut close to the ground, it begins to grow again and produces a second crop called ratoon.
Advantages of Ratoon Cropping:
(i) Ratoons mature sooner
(ii) Cost of cultivation is much lower since there is less expenditure on preparation.
Disadvantages of Ratoon Cropping:
(i) It yields thinner canes.
(ii) Low sugar content.
(iii)There is an increasing risk of pests and diseases.
Harvesting is done before the cane begins to flower. The maximum concentration of sugar is at the base of the cane. The cane is cut at ground level with a machete (curved knife) and removed to the factory for crushing within 48 hours. This is done as the juice starts drying up and the quality deteriorates. The sugar cane juice is processed into jaggery, white sugar and khandsari.
(i) Sugar cane is soil-exhausting. So a large quantity of fertilizers is required.
(ii) Farms are far away from the factories. Delay of more than 48 hours results in less sugar content.
(iii) Price is fixed by government irrespective of the quality of the cane.
(iv) Cultivation on small farms proves uneconomical.