Expert System For Sugarcane

Cultivation practices

About Cultivation Practices

Land Preparation


  • The common method of tillage preparation is ploughing the land and bringing the soil to fine tilth.

  • Plough the field for 2 to 4 times at the depth of 50-60 cm with tractor drawn disc plough or victory plough.


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  • It is the secondary tillage operation in sugarcane cultivation which pulverizes, smoothens and compact the soil to conserve the moisture.

  • Harrowing is done at shallow depth of 12-15 cm to crush the clods by disc harrow or rotavator


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  • To ensure a uniform crop stand levelling is important also for easy movement of irrigation water.

  • Levelling can be carried out using a tractor operated leveller.


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Lay out of field

  • Irrigation – cum – drainage channels along and across the slope of the field at 10-15m intervals.


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Basal Application of organic manure and fertilizer

  • Apply FYM at 12.5 t/ha or compost 25 t/ha or filter press mud at 37.5 t/ha before the last ploughing.

  • Apply compost from sugarcane trash and pressmud @ 1:1 ratio.(sugarcane trash-15cm thickness,pressmud-5cm thickness, rock phosphate, gypsum and urea in the ratio of 2:2:1,cow dung slurry or water for moisture, ready to use after 3months).

  • Test the soil and apply P fertilizer based on soil test values. Otherwise apply super phosphate (37.5 kg/ha) along the furrows and incorporate with hand hoe.

  • Apply 37.5 kg Zinc sulphate/ha and 100 kg Ferrous sulphate/ha to zinc and iron deficient soils.



Main field preparation and transplanting

  • The mainfield preparation is done as usual. Basal manures are applied in the furrow in band or if labour is available, by digging a pit at the site of transplanting. The furrow is irrigated.

  • The nursery bed should be well soaked so that the settlings could be easily removed without much damage to the root system.

  • They are then transplanted in the furrow following 30-45 cm spacing.

  • An additional line may be planted in every 10th row as material for gap filling.

  • The life irrigation is given on 3rd or 4th day. After 10-15 days, the gap filling is done using the setllings planted on the 10th row.

  • This technique may not be suitable during dry weather. Proper irrigation management till setllings establish is very important.


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Intercultural Operations

  1. Trash mulching
  2. Raising inter crops
  3. Crop rotation
  4. Gap filling
  5. Earthing up
  6. Control / Regulation of flowering in sugarcane
  7. Detrashing
  8. Propping
  9. Removal of water shoots
  10. Covering the field with green leaf manure plants

Trash mulching

  • Mulch the ridges uniformly with cane trash to a thickness of 10 cm within a week after planting.

  • It helps to tide over drought, conserves moisture, reduce weed population and minimise shoot borer incidence.

  • Mulch the field with trash after 21 days of planting in heavy soil and wetland conditions. Avoid trash mulching in areas where incidence of termites is noticed.

Raising inter crops


  • Areas of adequate irrigation, sow one row of soybean or blackgram or greengram along the centre of the ridge on the 3rd day of planting.

  • Intercropping of daincha or sunhemp along ridges and incorporation of the same on the 45th day during partial earthing up helps to increase the soil fertility, and also the cane yield.

  • Especially Intercropping of Co.1 Soybean gives a yield of 800 kg/ha without any adverse effect on cane yield.


  • Intercropping with short duration pulse crop.         


  • They sow groundnut and pulse as inter crop with sugarcane.

Crop rotation

Sugarcane is generally grown after the harvest of cotton, rice, maize, toria, potato, wheat, etc. In sequence under 2 to 3 years rotation.

Gap filling

  • Fill the gaps, if any, within 30 days after planting with sprouted setts.

  • Maintain adequate moisture for 3 weeks for proper establishment of the sprouted setts.


Earthing up

  • Earthing-up operation is also known as "hilling-up".

  • This operation is carried out in two or three stages. The first earthing-up operation is known “partial earthing-up” and the second/third operation is known as "full earthing-up".

  • The partial earthing-up is done at 45 days after planting. In partial earthing-up, little amount of soil from either side of the furrow is taken and placed around the base of the shoots.

  • Full earthing-up is done after 120 days after planting coinciding with the peak tiller population stage. During full earthing-up the soil from the ridge in between is fully removed and placed near the cane on either side.

  • This operation converts the furrows into ridges and ridges into furrows. This operation could be done either manually or by using a bullock-drawn/tractor drawn furrower depending upon the spacing adopted.

  • After application of 3rd dose fertilizer (90 days), work victory plough along the ridges for efficient and economical earthing up.

  • At 150 days after planting, earthing up may be done with spade.


Control / Regulation of flowering in sugarcane

  • Ethephon (ethrel) applied at the rate of 500 ppm effectively controlled flowering in a number of profuse flowering varieties.

  • By altering the planting date, flowering can be avoided in heavy flowering areas.

  • Adsali planting or special season planting (July to September) helps in avoiding flowering and its adverse effects.

  • Non-flowering varieties are Co 8021, Co 86032, Co 87025, Co 91010, Co 94005 and Co 94008.



  • Detrashing refers to removal of unwanted bottom dry and green leaves at regular intervals.

  • Sugarcane stalk bears large number of leaves (30-35) equal to the number of inter-nodes under good management systems.

  • Detrashing should be taken up after the cane formation around 150 days after planting. There after it could be done at bi-monthly interval depending up on the labour availability.



  • The operation of tying the leaves together using the bottom dry and green leaves is known as propping.

  • It is primarily done to avoid lodging of cane.

  • Propping can be either done for each row or two rows can be brought together and tied.

  • It is done at the age of 210 days of the crop


Removal of water shoots

  • Water shoots are late formed tillers or side shoots, which are robust and fast growing.

  • They originate mainly due to excess water supply, heavy and late manuring, inadequate earthing up.

  • Water shoots contain lot of water, low sucrose and more of reducing sugars.

  • Water shoots affects the growth of adjacent statics.

  • Therefore removal of water shoots whenever they appear is highly essential.

  • Water shoots can be used as cattle feed.


Covering the field with green leaf manure plants

There is a practice of spreading lightly one to two tonnes of green wild indigo plants per acre over the entire planted fields immediately after the planting. When this is done, the evaporation of moisture from the recently planted fields is controlled to some extent and it will be possible to prolong the interval between irrigation. Subsequently the green matter can be incorporated in the soil.

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Method of Planting

Planting in flat beds


  • Low rainfall areas generally optimum for this planting method, which is simplest as well as cheapest of all. 

  • Shallow furrows( 8-10 cm deep) are opened with a local plough or cultivator at a distance of 75 – 90 cm.

  • There should be adequate moisture in the field at the time of planting and two blind hoeings are given to replace the insect damaged setts. 

  • Setts are planted at end to end taking care that one three budded sett falls in each running 30 cm length of furrow.

  • After germination, two to five inter row cultivation may be given at proper intervals to control the weeds and to facilitate the tillering. 

  • Generally, earthing is not done but some times, if it is necessary the crop may be given one earthing during July-August to protect the crop from lodging and to provide drainage in the field.


Ridge and furrow method

The method is generally adopted in areas with moderate rainfall but have drainage problems. 

The furrows are made in ‘v’ shape about 80-100 cm. Apart and about 20-25 cm deep. 

The setts are placed in horizontal position, usually in end-to-end system but if the seed stalk is not good and inter-nodes are longer eye-to-eye system of planting setts may be done. 

To minimize the border effects of gaps, doubling of setts is done at the ends of the furrows. 

 As the canes start growing, the furrows are partly filled with soil and inter-row cultivation is carried out.  This repeated inter-row cultivation results in leveling of the land by end of May or Mid of June which is called as first earthing. 

Further repetition of inter-row cultivation transforms the furrow into ridges by putting soil around the plants and inter-row space become furrow automatically, through which irrigation or drainage is provided.  This transformation of furrows into ridges is called as second earthing.

Pit method of sugarcane under drip fertigation system

  • Pit to pit spacing- 1.5x1.5 m

  • Number of pits/ha- 4,444 pits

  • Pit diameter – 0.9 to 1.2 m

  • Pit depth – 0.38 to 0.45m

  • Number of budded setts / pit – 32 (Single budded setts) or 16 number of single budded setts.

  • Fill the pits to a depth of 15 cm with compost and native soil and mix it well. Place the healthy setts in circular fashion leaving 10 cm from the outer boundary of the pits with equal spacing between each setts and cover the setts with the soil. On 50 to 60 days after planting give partial earthing up by sliding the soil from the outer boundary of the pit and full earthing up should be given leaving a depression of 2.5 cm from the ground level at 90 to 100 days after planting.

  • Fertilizer dose-  275:62.5:112.5 kg NPK/ha

  • The entire phosphorous dose can be applied as basal at the time of planting.

  • The nitrogen and potassium as urea and MOP (White potash) should be applied through fertigation system in 14 equal splits starting from 15 DAP upto 210 DAP

  • Drip design- lateral to lateral spacing 3.0 m (alternate rows)

  • 8 mm micro tubes on either side of the lateral  to a length of 1.0 m with one 8 LPH

  • Irrigation – daily or in alternative days



Wider or dual row planting

  • To facilitate mechanisation in sugarcane cultivation, wide row planting adopting a spacing of 150 cm is becoming popular. Further improve the cane yield under wide rows, a new technology, ‘dual row planting’ has been developed.

  • Broad furrows are formed at a spacing of 150 cm and in the middle of the furrows sugarcane setts are planted in two rows adopting a spacing of 30 cm between them.

  • In a comparative study of two different methods of wide row planting, the dual row system gave a cane yield of 136.3 t/ha compared to 126.7 t/ha recorded by the single row system.

  • In plant crop, variety Co 94005 recorded the highest cane yield under dual row planting. Among the spacing, the dual row planting and the normal 90 cm were on par and were significantly better than the other spacing.

  • In the ratoon crop, variety Co 94005 was best for wide row spacing followed by Co 91010.

Spaced transplanting (STP) method with single eye set

  • Recently in STP (Spaced transplanting) method single eyed sets are used for planting. Either direct sets or seedlings raised in polybag nurseries are transplanted into the field after 50-55 days.

  • For this STP or single eyed set method 750-1MT seed per acre is required.

  • For both furrow and flat method rows are made 90cm apart and settlings are spaced at 45 – 90cm.

  • If any settlings fails to establish it is required to replace by the extra stock maintain in the nursery

  • This method saves seed cost by 60-70%. In this method distance between two sets kept at 30cm.

Poly bag seedling transplanting

  • This technique is also more or less same as STP technique.

  • Here the seedlings are raised in perforater plastic bags of size 10x15 cm filled with FYM or pressmud, soil and sand 1:1:1 proportion.

  • In this technique field establishment of seedlings is better, around 95-99%, as there is no damage to the root system.

  • In this method, a small pit is dug out at specified spacing (45cm).

  • A small quantity of phosphatic fertilizer is placed and covered with some soil. Then the settling is planted after clipping the green leaves.

'Chip-bud' or 'bud-chip' technique

  • In this technique the bud along with a portion of the nodal region is chipped off using a bud chipping machine.

  • The bud chips are treated with fungicide and planted in the raised bed nursery or in polythene bags filled with FYM/press mud, soil and sand in 1:1:1 proportion.

  • Seedlings are transplanted as in case of STP technique.

  • The advantages are that the quantity of seed material (chip buds) required is only around 1 to 1.5 tonnes and the cane after taking chips can be sent for milling. 


Tissue culture

  • Micropropagation of seed cane through Tissue Culture technology is useful in developing large scale production of true to type and disease free sugarcane plantlets using apical meristem culture technique.faster multiplication of a sugarcane variety can be done.

  • Apical meristem (growing part of sugarcane) is dissected and inoculated on a growth medium having definite nutrient composition.

  • The apical meristem starts producing tillers in the laboratory after about 45 days of incubation in temperature and light controlled conditions.

  • one apical meristem one can develop millions of plantlets in a period of seven to eight months.

  • The plantlets well established and hardened in plastic bags are transplanted to field condition.

  • Apply 16.5 Kgs. of granular lindane per hectare in the soil after fifteen days of transplantation and irrigate the field. This helps in preventing early shoot borer infestation.

  • If necessary main shoot may be removed 35-40 days after transplanting.

  • The major earthing up needs to be done at 90-100 days after transplanting.

  • A seed multiplication ratio of 1:25 (planting material for 25 hectares is obtained from one hectare seed nursery) is obtained from the seed nursery planted with tissue culture plantlets.

  • The well hardened plantlets developed when used give 98 to 100 % survival under field condition.


Other Planting Methods

Other planting methods

1. Sablang or sprouting Method

Plants are grown in fertile soil with wide spacing, shallow planting, frequent irrigation, and adequate fertilization. The tillers are removed carefully from the mother plant as soon as they develop their own roots and are transplanted in the main field. The mother plant continues tillering and the tillers are planted in the main field in the same manner.

2. Rayungan Method

Seed stalks are decaptivated (topped off) about 4-6 weeks before planting time. As a consequence, lateral shoots develop into tailed Rayungan which are cut off and planted out in the trenches made ready for the purpose. Thus by removing the upper rayungans, the lower buds also sprout which are similarly used.

3. Distance Planting

In this method the top setts are collected and put in nursery and after they sprout and roots come out, they are transplanted in the main field at a spacing of 90 cm x 50 cm.

4. Tjeblock Method

Tjeblock is an improvement over the Rayungan method because it takes care of proper availability of nutrients and energy to all the buds where as in Rayungan method, there is considerable stress on nutrients supply on lower buds. In Tjeblock method the stalk is cut off at its half length and planted vertically with one node under the soil for rooting. The planted ones and mother stalks are adequately irrigated and fertilized.

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Weed Management


In India, sugarcane is planted in spring (February-March), autumn (September-October) and adsaliplanting (July-August). Being a long duration crop, it is heavily infested with a variety of weeds. Nearly 150 weed species including manuals, perennials and parasitic have been observed in sugarcane fields in different parts of India. The weed flora differs from location to location due to variation in agro-ecological conditions and management practices.

Major weed flora observed in sugarcane fields are:

Sedges- Cyprus rotundus

Grasses-Cynodon dactylon, Sorghum helepense, Panicum spp, Dactylocternium aegyptium, the cogan grass Imperata cylindrica

Broad leaved weedsStriga asiatica, Chenapodium album, Convolvulus arvensis L., Amaranthus viridis L., Portulaca oleraceae L., Commelina bengalensis L., Trianthema portulacastrum L.

Critical period of crop-weed competition

  • Critical period can be defined, as “the shortest span of time in the ontogeny of crop growth when weeding will result in higher economic returns”.

  • Sugarcane being initially slow-growing crop faces an acute competition from weeds.

  • In sugarcane, weed infestation during 60-120 days after planting has been found detrimental for the final crop yield.

  • In ratoon crop, critical period of crop-weed competition has been identified as 30-50 days after ratoon initiation.

  • The losses due to weeds comprise

  1. Direct yield losses resulting from competition,

  2. Indirect losses from reduced crop quality,

  3. Increased costs in harvesting, land preparation and similar operations, and

  4. Harbouring insects’ pests and diseases.

  • Besides, weeds remove large amount of nutrients from soil. Direct yield losses ranged from 11-74% depending upon the nature and intensity of weed flora and period of occurrence of weeds.

  • The loss is mainly due to restriction of tiller production.

  • Removing weed at any time during growing season may not be beneficial. It is necessary to identify critical period of crop-weed competition to render weed control practices more effective.

Method of weed control

Mechanical method

Cultural Method

  1. Crop rotation
  2. Intercropping
  3. Trash mulching

Chemical Method

Mechanical Method

  • Since sugarcane rows are widely spaced, shallow-rooted weeds can be managed by hoeing with hand tools or with intercultural operations during growing season of crop.

  • Generally, 3-4 hoeing are required after every irrigation during tillering phase of crop to check crop-weed competition.

  • The removal of weeds by mechanical means is laborious and expensive, and weeds in intra-row spaces are not killed.

  • Besides, sometimes due to unfavourable weather/soil conditions, mechanical weeding may not be possible.

Cultural method

Crop rotation. Certain weeds have association with sugarcane crop and hence, monocropping of sugarcane may lead to severe crop-weed competition. Inclusions of green manure crops or fodder crops like sorghum not only suppress weeds but also help in crop diversification.


Intercropping. Sugarcane is planted in wider-row spacing. This provides better opportunity for weeds to emerge in a large numbers and infest crop. Inclusion of short duration and quick growing intercrops in these row spaces can suppress weed growth to a great extent. Inter-row crops like mustard, potato or wheat in autumn and blackgram, greengram or cowpea in spring planted sugarcane have been found quite effective in weed suppression and higher cane yields.


Trash mulching. In this, soon after emergence of cane trash covers of about 10-12 cm thickness should be provided in between cane rows. Trash cover restricts sunlight and checks weed emergence. Besides, suppressing weeds, trash mulching also conserves soil moisture, and provides a potential source of organic matter.


Chemical method

Generally, application of single herbicide may not be effective in controlling weeds in sugarcane because of a great diversity in weed flora and a longer duration required to suppress the weeds which come in several flushes. Pre-emergence application of simazine or atrazine at 1.5-2.0 kg/ha or metribuzine at 1.0 kg/ha or diuron at 2.5-3.0 kg/ha or ametryn at 2.0 kg/ha each followed by 2, 4-D at 0.75-1.0 kg/ha as post-effective for broad-spectrum weed control in sugarcane.


Management of parasitic weed striga in sugarcane

  • Striga is a becoming a major problem in sugaracane of Tamil Nadu and many other sugarcane growing areas of the country. 

  • Striga removes nutrients and extracts water from the sugarcane plant and causes heavy loss in cane productivity and quality.

  • Intercropping with legumes such as soybean, cowpea or groundnut within the sugarcane rows row can significantly reduce the number of Striga coming to maturity.

  • Plants which are pulled, within 2-3 weeks of the start of flowering, should be taken out of the field and burned so that seeds are not produced and shed from the drying plants.

  • Where it is available and feasible or the farmer, the herbicide 2,4-D can be used before Striga flowering, as an alternative to hand-pulling but it may need to be repeated.

  • trash mulching at 5.0 tonnes/ha at 90 days after planting has been found effective in reducing the density and dry weight of Striga.

  • Pre-emergence application of atrazine at 1.0 kg/ha + 1 hand weeding at 45 days after planting with an earthing up at 60 days after planting combine with post-emergence application of 2,4-D Na salt at 5 g/l (0.50%) + urea 20 g/l (2%) at 90 days after planting has been recommended for effective control of Striga in sugarcane.

Integrated weed management

  • Being a long duration and widely spaced crop, there is an ample scope of using cultural/mechanical and chemical methods in combination so as to reduce dependence on either of the methods.

  • In planted and ratoon crops, trash mulching followed by post-emergence application of herbicides has been found effective.

  • Combination of pre-emergence herbicides, viz atrazine or metribuzine and intercultural operations has been found effective and economical.

  • Irrigation at 40-45 DAP followed by hoeing and application of atrazine at 2.0 kg/ha or metribuzine at 1.0 kg/ha and 2,4-D at 0.50 kg/ha have been found effective and economical.


Weed management in pure crop of sugarcane

  • Spray Atrazine 2 kg or Oxyflurofen 750 ml/ha mixed in 500 lit of water as pre emergence herbicide on the 3rd day of planting.

  • For post-emergence spray of Grammaxone 1.5 litre + 2,4-D sodium salt 2.5 kg/ha in 500 litre of water on 21st  day of planting. 

  • If the parasitic weed striga is a problem, post-emergence application of 2,4-D sodium salt @ 1.25 kg/ha in 500 litre of water/ha may be done. 2, 4-D spraying should be avoided when neighboring crop is cotton or bhendi. Apply 20% urea also for the control of striga as direct spray.

  • Pre- plant application of glyphosate at 2.0 kg ha-1 along with 2% ammonium sulphate at 21 days before planting of sugarcane.

  • If herbicide is not applied work the junior-hoe along the ridges on 25, 55 and 85 days after planting for removal of weeds and proper stirring. Remove the weeds along the furrows with hand hoe. Otherwise operate power tiller fitted with tynes for intercultivation.


Weed management in ratoon crop

Weed management in sugarcane ratoon crop, the maximum cane yield could be obtained by three hoeing at 30, 60 and 90 days after harvest or spray atrazine 2.0 kg/ha as pre-emergence followed by 2,4-D at 1.25 kg/ha as post-emergence at 90 days after harvesting followed by directed spraying of glyphosate 1.0 kg/ha at 150 days after harvesting.                  


Weed management in Sugarcane intercropping system

  • Premergence application of Thiobencarb @ 1.25 kg a.i / ha under intercropping system in sugarcane which gives effective weed control.         


Pre-Emergence weed management:
            Protect the sugarcane crop without weeds for 90 days from planting onwards. During 3rd or 4th day after planting spray Atrazine @ 2.5 kg/ha uniformly on the surface of field before the emergence of weeds. Chemical should be diluted in 1000liter of water and spray through hand sprayer. Separate hand sprayer and nossel should be used for herbicide application. Before application of fertilizer, weeds which are not controlled by herbicide application should be uprooted by hand weeding. By this method we can reduce the maximum level of crop damage.


Post-Emergence weed management:
            After the emergence of weeds, spray 2-4-D @ 2.5kg/ha to control broad leaves weed. Grass sp are controlled by hand weeding. Spraying of Ethoxy sulfuron @ 13kg/10 litre of water controls the Cyprus sp.   


Pre and Post-Emergence Herbicides For Weed Control in Sugarcane



Control (weeks)

Dosage (kg/ha) based on clay%


21 - 30%




Atrazine 50 FW

6- 8





Ametryn 80 WP

6- 8





Diuron 80 WP






Metribuzin 70 WP






Alachlor 48 EC

 6- 8





Trifluralin 48 EC

5- 7





Pendimethalin 50 EC












Diuron + 2, 4-D


1.2 + 1.8

1.2 + 1.8

1.2 + 1.8


Atrazine + Dalapan


1.25 + 2.5

1.25 + 2.5

1.25 + 2.5

Post - Emergence


2, 4-D Sodium salt 80 WSP












Glyphosate 41 WSC












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