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Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by stonerebel, Sep 8, 2004.
Any sugarcane growers out there?
I don't know that I'd call myself a sugarcane grower, but I did plant a piece of sugarcane given to me by a Samoan coworker a few years ago. It was a piece about two inches long and has grown without much help from me (other than watering) by leaps and bounds. Luckily, it hasn't leaped out of the large pot I planted it in (yet....) It is a prolific spreader, so if you put it in the ground, make sure you plan for it's extended family!
Its a major crop here in S Florida, I have been around it a bit; planting requires 2 closed noduals for best responce, half in - half out of the ground. Keep it watered well. We have an old timers gettogether each year to grind the pulp for molassas. The gris mill is an antique, the mule is tired, may be a motor on it soon.
My Daddy grows sugarcane from time to time. He has a syrup mill. Whenever he fires it up those oldtimers gather like flies! LOL...
We used to raise sorghum cane.
We planted the seeds in rows like corn and cultivated it like we did corn. It has a seed head on the top of the stalk.
About this time in the fall, we took a piece of lath and stripped all the leaves off the stalks. Next we cut the stalks off with a corn knife and hauled them to a sorghum mill nearby. The mill squeezed the juice out of the stalks and cooked it down into sorghum (syrup) They weighed your stalks and gave you the amount of syrup that they said it should make as soon as you unloaded the stalks. Wonderful tasting syrup...
The mill burned down and someone built a new one there. We took our stripped stalks to the new mill and they told us that it wasn't nessesary to strip them anymore as they ground the leaves and all and squeezed out the juice????? They weighed ours and gave us 8 gallon of molasses. We took it home and it tasted like Brer Rabbit molasses. BAD... We took it all back to them and told them they must have burned it. They gave us new syrup for what we took back. Guess what, It all tasted that way. The next year they were out of business.
I have been around sugar cane all my life. My grandfather used to grow it we would grind every Thanksgiving, usually two boilers worth. He passed away several years ago and I have been trying to start this tradition again. I am having a hard time getting it to come up in bulk. Seems like I am only getting one stalk per joint planted instead of numerous stalks per joint. I have grown it all my life but the last three years I can not get a bumper crop at all.
What do you call the finished product? Does the cane produce a seed head? Are the pieces of stalk green or dried when you plant them? Where do you get the stalks to plant? I am clueless about how your system works. I would love to hear more about it. Thank you, Unk
The sugar cane has to be planted from a stalk which is refered to as seed cane, because there is no actual seed. You plant cane usually in March, the whole stalk is layed in rows. Each joint produced shoots from it anywhere from 1 to five or more shoots. The cane usually reaches maturity in October, It is then stipped and cut down in mid November, always before a hard freeze comes. Once the cane is stipped it is laid in piles and covered up with the cut tops. There it sits until we grind it . Once it is hauled to the mill we pile it by the cane mill where we grind the juice out of it. The mill is run by an old snapper lawn mower, the wheels loked in place to keep the same track. The juice runs into a 50 gallon plastic drum, the drum has cheese cloth over the top of it which strains the trash from the juice. While this process is going on the boiler is being fired up with pine wood. The boiler has a few gallons of water in it to keep it from cracking from the heat. Once the drum is full of juice the water is dipped out and the juice added. While this heats up you start grind another drum full to fill the boiler up to the top. Once full the boiler starts to cook off the trash in the juice or drugs as we call it. It comes to the top then it is strained off with a strainer pain and put in a bucket. Once it really starts to cook trash boils off to the sides of the boiler. Two people stand by and wipe the trash with wet rags usually take about one hour of wiping. Once the juice start to make giant bubbles in the middle which is called syrup bubbles its almost ready. Then you take a big pot secured to a long handle and dip it in the syrup, you hold it up above the boiler until the syrup flakes about one inch from the pot. It usually takes about two hours to cook off 80 gallons of juice. Once its ready it is dipped into a wash tub with a bed sheet over it which strains the trash even more. After this the syrup is then put into its bottles. While doing this the fire has to be put out quick, you take the old cane plumbings throw it under the boiler and this kills the fire. The cane cane that was cut lleaves stubbles which grown cane for next year. You pull up some by the roots to make sure you have enough new cane for next year. Once you pull it up its laid in what we call a bed. A bed is made by digging the ground out laying staw down and putting the cane on top then covering it with dirt. This keeps the cane until planting times when you dig it back up and plant it in the spring.
Don't you know? It "misses" your grandfather's touch! :haha: