Sugar Cane Farming In Kenya, How To Plant The Modern Way
Sugarcane farming in Kenya was introduced in 1902 by an Australian farmer whereby commercial growing began in Miwani, Kibos, and Ramisi.
Conditions Favouring Sugarcane farming in Kenya
- High temperatures(21◦c-27◦C)
- High and well-distributed rainfall (1200-1500 mm annually).
- Dry and sunny weather during harvesting to increase sugar accumulation in the cane.
- Fertile and well-drained soils.
- Undulating land for machinery to be used and for easier transportation of cane to factories.
- Altitude between sea level and 1600 m.
- Abundant labour for planting, weeding, cutting, and loading onto trucks.
- Good transport infrastructure for sugarcane to reach the factory within a week after harvesting.
- Location of processing factories within the growing areas for quick processing of sugarcane before losing its sugar content through drying.
- Availability of capital to pay workers in the field, buy farm machinery, etc.
Sugarcane growing areas in Kenya
- Nandi county
How to grow sugarcane crops?
This commercial crop is mainly propagated by mature vegetative cuttings known as “sets”. For optimal sugarcane production, select a quality, high-yield, disease-resistant environment to produce the maximum.
How to plant sugarcane?
After collecting the quality sets, discard the ends of the apical portion. This discarding of the apical portion increases the easier breakdown of shoots in this crop. Cuttings should be at least 35 cm to 45 cm in length with a minimum of 3 shoots on each.
Modern methods of planting sugarcane
Planting sugar cane can be done using any of the following methods:
- Flatbed method
- Ridge and Groove method
- Pit method
- Wider or two-row plantation method
- Spaced Transplant Method
- Seedling Transplant Method
- Chip or bud method
- Tissue culture method
However, for commercial sugarcane plantation, the furrow method is the most appropriate and is also followed by most producers.
Plant in flat beds
- Low precipitation areas are generally optimal for this planting method, which is the simplest and cheapest of all.
- Shallow furrows (8-10 cm deep) are opened with a local plow or cultivator at a distance of 75 – 90 cm.
- There must be adequate moisture in the field at planting and two blind hoes are placed to replace insect-damaged shelters.
- Sets are planted end-to-end taking care that a set of three shoots falls into each 30-cm-long furrow.
- After germination, two to five-row crops can be grown at appropriate intervals to control weeds and facilitate tillering.
- In general, the grounding is not done, but sometimes, if necessary, you can be grounded during July-August to protect the crop from the housing and to provide drainage in the field.
Ridge and groove method
- The method is generally adopted in areas with moderate rainfall but with drainage problems.
- The grooves are made in a “v” shape around 80-100 cm. Apart and about 20-25 cm deep.
- The sets are placed horizontally, usually in an end-to-end system, but if the seed stalk is not good and the internal nodes are longer, an eye-to-eye system of planting sets can be made.
- To minimize the border effects of voids, settlements at the ends of the furrows are doubled.
- As the reeds begin to grow, the furrows are partially filled with soil and inter-row cultivation is carried out. This repeated cultivation between rows results in the leveling of the land in late May or mid-June, which is called the first grounding.
- Additional repeat cultivation between rows transforms the furrow into ridges by putting the soil around the plants and the space between rows automatically becomes a furrow, through which irrigation or drainage is provided. This transformation of grooves into ridges is called the second earth.
Sugarcane pit method under drip fertigation system
- Well to good separation: 1.5×1.5 m
- Number of wells / ha- 4,444 wells
- The diameter of the well: 0.9 to 1.2 m
- Well depth: 0.38 to 0.45 m
- The number of budding / well sets: 32 (single group sets) or 16 single group sets numbers.
- Fill the wells to a depth of 15 cm with compost and native soil and mix well. Place the healthy sets in a circular manner leaving 10 cm from the outer limit of the wells with the same space between each set and cover the sets with the ground. 50 to 60 days after planting, give a partial grounding by sliding the soil from the outer edge of the hole and the full grounding should leave a 2.5 cm depression from ground level 90 to 100 days later of planting.
- Fertilizer dose: 275: 62.5: 112.5 kg NPK / ha
- The full dose of phosphorus can be applied as basal at the time of planting.
- Nitrogen and potassium such as urea and MOP (white potash) must be applied through the fertigation system in 14 equal divisions from 15 DAP to 210 DAP
- Drip design: 3.0 m side-to-side separation (alternative rows)
- 8 mm microtubes on each side of the side at a length of 1.0 m with an 8 LPH
- Irrigation: daily or on alternative days.
Wider or two-row plantation method in sugarcane
- To facilitate mechanization in the cultivation of sugar cane, planting in wide rows adopting a space of 150 cm is becoming popular. To further improve cane performance in wide rows, new technology has been developed, ‘double row planting’.
- Wide furrows are formed at a distance of 150 cm and in the middle of the furrows, sugar cane deposits are planted in two rows, adopting a space of 30 cm between them.
- In a comparative study of two different wide row planting methods, the double row system yielded a cane yield of 136.3 t / ha compared to 126.7 t / ha for the single row system.
- In-plant crops, variety Co 94005 registered the highest cane yield in double row planting. Between spacing, double row seeding, and normal 90 cm were on par and significantly better than the other spacing.
- In scrub cultivation, the Co 94005 variety was best for wide row spacing, followed by Co 91010.
Spaced Transplant Method (STP) with Single Eye Set in Sugarcane
- Recently, in the STP (spaced transplant) method, single-eye sets are used for planting. Both direct sets and seedlings raised in plastic bag nurseries are transplanted to the field after 50-55 days.
- For this STP method or single-eye set, 750-1MT seeds per acre are required.
- For both the furrow and the flat method, the rows are 90 cm apart and the settlements are spaced 45-90 cm apart.
- If any settlement is not established, it is necessary to replace it with the additional stock that is kept in the nursery.
- This method saves seed costs by 60-70%. In this method, the distance between the two sets was kept at 30 cm.
Seedling transplant from polythene bags
- This technique is also more or less the same as the STP technique.
- Here the seedlings are raised in 10×15 cm perforation plastic bags filled with FYM or a press of mud, earth, and sand in a 1: 1: 1 ratio.
- In this technique, the establishment of seedlings in the field is better, around 95-99%, since there is no damage to the root system.
- In this method, a small hole is dug at a specified distance (45 cm).
- A small amount of phosphate fertilizer is placed and covered with some soil. The settlement is then planted after trimming the green leaves.
‘Chip-bud’ or ‘bud-chip’ technique in sugarcane
- In this technique, the shoot along with a portion of the nodal region is cut using a shoot cutting machine.
- Sprout shavings are treated with fungicide and planted in the raised bed nursery or in polyethylene bags filled with FYM / mud, soil, and sand press in a 1: 1: 1 ratio.
- The seedlings are transplanted as in the case of the STP technique.
- The advantages are that the amount of seed material (chip sprouts) required is only around 1 to 1.5 tons and the cane after picking the chips can be sent for grinding.
Tissue culture technique in sugarcane
- Micropropagation of seed cane through tissue culture technology is useful in developing large-scale production of true, disease-free sugarcane seedlings using the apical meristem culture technique. A faster multiplication of a variety of sugar cane can be done.
- The apical meristem (growing part of sugarcane) is dissected and inoculated in a growth medium that has a defined nutrient composition.
- The apical meristem begins to produce clumps in the laboratory after approximately 45 days of incubation in controlled light and temperature conditions.
- An apical meristem can develop millions of seedlings in a period of seven to eight months.
- Well established and hardened seedlings in plastic bags are transplanted to field conditions.
- Apply 16.5 Kgs. Of granular lindane per hectare to the soil after fifteen days of transplanting and irrigate the field. This helps prevent early infestation of the borer.
- If necessary, the main shoot can be removed 35-40 days after transplant.
- The main grounding should be done between 90 and 100 days after the transplant.
- A seed multiplication ratio of 1:25 is obtained (planting material is obtained for 25 hectares from the one-hectare seed nursery) from the nursery planted with tissue culture seedlings.
- Well-hardened seedlings developed when used give 98 to 100% survival under field conditions.