PHILIPPINE^BUEEAU OF AGRICULTURE.
' DEPARTAMENTO DE AGRICULTURA DE PILIPINAS.
BOLETIN DEL AGRICULTOR XO. l
A PRIMER ON THE CULTIVATION OF SUGAR CANE
ELEMENTOS SOBRE EL CULTIVO DE LA CANA DCLCE EN FILIPINAS
WIX.1LIAM S. IjYCXN",
EXPERT IN TROPICAL AGRICULTURE.
Perito en Agricultura Tropical.
PREPARED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE CHIEF OF THE BUREAU,
PREPARADA BKJO LA DIRECCION DEL JEFE DEL DEPARTAMENTO.
BUREAU OF PUBLIC PRINTING.
, I I 5
Letter of transmittal 4
Location of the farm 5
Soil conditions , 6
Soil fertility 7
Preparation of the soil : 9
Breaking the soil 9
Selection of seed cane 11
Harvesting the crop 14
Management of stubble 14
Drainage and irrigation 15
Supplement: Growing sugar cane in Hawaii :. 18
LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL.
SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith, and to recommend for
publication as a Farmers' Bulletin, the manuscript of a paper on "The
cultivation of sugar cane."
The importance of the sugar industry to these Islands can hardly be
overstated. At the present time it furnishes all the sugar required for
domestic consumption and a surplus for export, which, in 1900 amounted
to 143,719,971 pounds valueu at $2,397,144, and, with the exception of
hemp, this industry gives employment to more of our rural population
than any other branch of agriculture. Diminished cane areas, dimin-
ished crops, and diminished profits entail suffering in the rural districts
that extends far beyond the landed proprietor or owner of a sugar estate.
Abandoned cane fields and idle mills throughout the Archipelago indicate
a depression of such magnitude as to render it incumbent upon this
Bureau to do everything in its power to remedy these conditions.
The causes producing the present depression in the sugar industry,
other than those resulting from the prevailing financial conditions and
excessive rates of interest on mortgage loans, are to be found both upon
the farm and in the mill. The present practices plainly indicate a lack
of knowledge of certain fundamental principles in cane cultivation, and
the purpose of this paper is to place before the cane grower in compact
form the elementary information essential to the success which lies
within his reach.
WILLIAM S. LYON,
Expert in Tropical Agriculture.
Prof. F. LAMSON-SCRIBNER,
Chief, Insular Bureau of Agriculture.
A PRIMER ON THE CULTIVATION OF SUGAR CANE.
Upon most modern estates the manufacture of sugar is carried on in
connection with the growing of the cane, but this is not always the case,
and cane growing alone may be profitably followed by those who have no
milling plant, but who must deliver their crop to the nearest crushing
mill. 1 The conditions for profitable returns are exceptionally favorable
upon these Islands; the climate can not be surpassed, the cane soils are
unequalled, there is abundant water supply, the facilities for transporta-
tion by water are unusually good, while the difficulties of land transpor-
tation will be quickly overcome by the successful planter. It must be the
aim of the cane grower to produce upon a given area the maximum of
both tonnage and quality in order to secure the greatest profit. This can
only result from a judicious selection of land, both as to location and soil,
a careful selection of the most productive varieties of cane, and the
highest class of tillage and management of the growing crop.
LOCATION OF FARM.
The essential feature for the consideration of the grower who does not
design to crush the cane himself lies in the accessibility of his farm to a
mill. The measure of this accessibility will be determined entirely by
the cost of transportation, which will depend on the condition of existing
roads; the cost of construction of new ones, or of tramways; or the
availability of waterways for more distant carriage. This last in these
Islands is so valuable a means of transportation that it can be utilized for
the extension of cane growing into regions that otherwise could not be
Most modern sugar mills are now equipped with unloading facilities,
and by the aid of special labor-saving contrivances effect the discharge of
cars, carts, and boat loads of cane with remarkable ease and celerity.
These are all contributory factors to "accessibility" and are, therefore,
mentioned in this connection.
The next feature that commands attention in the selection of a sugar
cane farm is the suitability of the soil for the designated purpose. It
has been contended that sugar cane can be made profit-paying upon any
x This is the general practice in New South Wales, where the numerous holdings
are, as a rule, small in area. The cane is purchased from the planters, principally
by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, whose various crushing mills and refin-
eries are fitted with machinery of the most modern character.
6 FARMERS' BULLETIN.
land, when the rainfall is sufficient and the other climatic conditions are
It is also conceded by the many authorities responsible for this conten-
tion that there are many requisites necessary to bring unsuitable lands
to a state of productivity; and that, except in regions where the needed
supplies are cheap and plentiful, it is inexpedient to attempt their recla-
mation to sugar growing. In the Philippines, lands exceptionally well
fitted for the growing of sugar cane are so abundant that there seems to
be no valid reason for the selection of those that can only be reclaimed to
this use by tedious and costly processes.
In determining the suitability of the soil, we have, as a matter of first
consideration, its physical or mechanical condition.
With a possible exception of tobacco, there is no staple agricultural
crop where the physical condition of the soil plays so important a part as
it does in the growing of sugar cane. It is a plant that, by virtue of its
great size and rapid growth, not only draws heavily upon the fertility of
the soil, but its shallow root system and restricted area for each plant
demands that the mechanical condition of the soil be such as to facilitate
in every way the full exercise of the root's functions. In all regions and
in all sugar-producing countries, a strong, deq), nrgilaceons, or slightly
calcareous soil has always been found best fitted to meet these require-
In the sandy, sedimentary, alluvial soils along the sea coast, or in rich
mountain valleys, heavily charged with the humus in which the cane
rejoices, phenomenal crops are often taken, but for long-continued crop-
ping and with a minimum of restoratives the soils first mentioned are
those which have longest stood the crucial test of time.
Such lands as these abound in the Archipelago and often extend for
miles along the lower and easily cultivated foothills, and these today
offer more inviting fields of operation than many of the apparently more
alluring valley lands along the coast.
The land chosen must not be less than one foot in depth, but that will
be sufficient, provided the substratum on which it rests is permeable to
water. The perfect permeability of the subsoil is a sine qua non for the
perfecting of the cane, for stagnant water at the roots is a more danger-
ous menace to success than long-continued drought. It is this peculiarity
that clearly differentiates valley lands suited to cane growing from those
adapted to rice, an aquatic grass, whose roots thrive in the same soil as
the cane, but which must be underlaid by an impervious subsoil that will
retain water throughout the growing season.
Nevertheless, the planter need not be discouraged who finds his shallow
top soil underlaid by a formidable bed of clay. In most cases it will be
found full of stones, bits of tufa or volcanic scoria, and, unless it lies per-
' CULTIVATION OF SUGAR CANE. 7
f ectly level with the water table close to the surface, is at times suscep-
tible to the free and rapid percolation of water.
It is suggested to the prospective cane planter who is unfamiliar with
the physical character of the subsoil, that he dike a small experimental
plot of land, making his dikes as nearly waterproof as possible, and then
observe the behavior of the land subsequent to one or two torrential rains,
noting the tardiness or rapidity with which the water disappears. If,
after a two-inch rainfall upon soil previously wetted through, the water
remains standing for more than two or three hours, a complete and com-
prehensive system of cfrainage is essential before putting such lands into
Fertile soils can nearly always be assured in what are known as "virgin
soils," and such are at present in almost unlimited quantities in these
Islands. It may seem paradoxical to say that on a narrow sea zone,
densely peopled by a race who have been engaged in agriculture for
generations, virgin lands are more abundant than in what we call a new
country within temperate latitudes. Strictly speaking, such is not the
fact, but within the tropics, land that has once been cultivated and then
allowed to lapse, so quickly reverts to its primitive condition that in a
very few years it effects what would require a generation to accomplish
in a northern climate, and to all practical intents becomes once more
virgin land. Such lands are more valuable in some respects than the
undisturbed soil of the primeval forests. Their reclamation to cultiva-
tion is more cheaply effected, while the rapidity with which the processes
of growth and decay progress in the tropics, are assurance of a liberal
supply of the humus, the one fertilizing agent of all others most vital to
the highest perfection of the sugar cane.
In some tropical forest regions the remains of decaying vegetation are
so great that they are sometimes present to an almost injurious excess.
On such soils, as also occasionally upon truly virgin sedimentary river
bottoms, the cane develops to a size and with a luxuriance that is phe-
nomenal; yet in this abnormally excited growth it frequently becomes
gorged with unassimilated alkaline salts, prejudicial to sugar making,
difficult to eliminate and depreciative of the market value of the cane.
But the quasi virgin land that has only the accumulated vegetable
detritus of a few years, offers a happy medium for the growth of a strong,
vigorous cane, rich in the precious saccharine matter that crystalizes
freely, and that always commands the highest price in the sugar mills of
the world. Under the question of soil fertility, it is pertinent to inquire
if some practical suggestion can not be made whereby the equilibrium of
the humus in the soil, in relation to its mineral elements may be con-
A piece of land by the irrefutable logic of good money returns may
8 FARMERS' BULLETIN.
have demonstrated its superiority for growing cane; it may teem with
the elements of soil fertility, yet in a few years the humus is depleted,
and the cane and its value rapidly begin to deteriorate. There can be no
middle course the exhausted humus supply must in some way be
Humus, as we know, serves a two-fold purpose one, purely mechani-
cal in its effects, rendering stiff soils pervious to the aeration and mois-
ture without which perfect root action can not be maintained ; the other,
the added fertility which it supplies. It is rich in available nitrogen,
without which, and notwithstanding a surfeit of "other fertilizing agents
in the soil, there can be no successful issue to a cane crop.
The two materials known to common agricultural uses that most
nearly approximate humus in their action are stable or barn manures and
cotton seed meal. Both these substances are not only rich in nitrogen,
but both, while undergoing decomposition in the soil, exert mechanical
influence analogous to that of humus.
In countries where cotton is grown and farm stock housed or corralled,
one or both of these invaluable .^nts are easily obtained, and no difficulty
is experienced in growing a succession of cane crops and in preserving
continuously normal soil conditions. In these Islands we are practically
excluded from the consideration of either, for cotton is not produced in
commercial quantities, and, outside of a few large cities, the stall feeding
of farm animals is unknown, and consequently the use of barnyard
manures is out of the question. In this extremity there is no alternative
for the cane grower but to lay down his cane fields every third year to,
say, cowpeas, vetches or some leguminous crop that will compensate for
the more direct fertilizers that he is unable to procure. As a result, one-
third of his sugar fields will be annually unproductive of sugar; never-
theless, there is little doubt that eventually the farmer will be enriched by
the operation. These renovating crops can first of all be partly cut and
cured for forage, and will afford assured maintenance for the stock that
is an indispensable condition to the profitable working of the farm.
Stock so fed, if not immune, will at least be far less susceptible to epi-
demic diseases than those allowed to roam at large over pastures where
the herds have previously been decimated by disease.
In addition, the yard feeding of his cattle will necessarily result in the
accumulation of manures that, if properly protected from leaching by
rains, will place at his command one of the best means for maintaining
continued productivity. In the end, after the saving of the forage, there
still remains the stubble, which, when plowed under, acts as humus, while
the deep-rooting legumes have not only subsoiled his land, but have
stored up while he slept an abundant supply of the nitrogen in the cheap-
est available way.
A practice in some places in the Islands is for planters to "rest" their
CULTIVATION OF SUGAR CANE. 9
cane lands every alternate year. Such rests, it may be remarked, are
quite as "tiring" to the land as its continuous production of cane. The
rest does not last long enough to restore the growth that would in time
renew it, nor is it even fallow plowed, which would at least greatly
improve its mechanical condition. The "rest" is simply idleness, produc-
tive of ill rather than benefit.
PREPARATION OF THE SOIL.
If the land is what we now understand to be virgin soil the brush and
timber will be cut closely to the ground, 1 any wood required for fuel
removed, and the remaining tops and branches, when dry enough, gath-
ered in small heaps and burned. Large fires are to be avoided, as the
smoldering embers are apt to ignite and burn out much of the precious
humus in the soil. It is on this account maintained that all trash should
be removed and burned outside the plantation limits. Nevertheless, if
the fires are kept small in size, the loss from this source will be inconsid-
erable, and hardly great enough to compensate for the extra cost of
handling, or for the potassic salts lost by the removal of the brush from
the ground; but, most important of all, the scattering and burning of
the brush not only kills and facilitates the subsequent removal of the
stumps, but helps to dstroy the larvae of pernicious insects that abound
in most forest lands.
The grubbing of the stumps can not be profitably undertaken till the
rains have thoroughly wet down the soil, and then small roots are easily
taken out with a grub hoe, while larger ones, that are well charred, may
be easily removed by carabao.
It is only the largest stumps that should be left to decay. This process
is so rapid in this climate that their early extirpation is an easy matter.
Unless of extraordinary density of foliage, a few standing forest trees are
seldom detrimental to field crops. To this the sugar cane is a notable
exception. It rejoices in full, free, and unbroken sunlight at every stage
of growth, and the greater its intensity and long continuance the greater
the assurance of a good yield of sugar.
BREAKING THE SOIL.
The proper initial preparation of the soil presents probably the gravest
difficulty with which the cane planter on these islands must contend. The
lack of animals and implements adequate to open up and aerate the soil
for all the depth to which it may be traversed by the cane roots, is indis-
pensable to success, and further on, the only solution of this problem that
now seems feasible will be presented. Where the initial preparation of
'The writer has lately observed some interesting experiments in clearing, where
the brush was topped at three to four feet from the ground. The supposition is
that, in the process of grubbing, the standing butts can be used as levers for the
expeditious and easy eradication of the stumps.
10 FARMERS' BULLETIN.
the soil has been thorough there is little subsequent occasion for the use
of implements of heavy draft. A few years ago the deep subsoil plow and
the turning of the land for a foot or fourteen inches was considered essen-
tial. Now, the investigations of chemistry have demonstrated that the
available, i. e., the readily assimilated plant food, is that which lies close
to the surface, and that the deep burying of this surface soil and its
replacement with elements not yet sufficiently disorganized to serve as
plant food contained in the under soil is wasteful of both energy and
material. As now understood, deep plowing serves only a mechanical
purpose, and no more than to guarantee porosity and a free aeration of
the underlying beds.
The subsoil plow has, therefore, been generally consigned to the things
of the past (except for uses not pertinent to this subject) and it is regret-
table to have to recommend its resurrection for some existing conditions
in this Archipelago. These conditions are mainly found upon the clay
cane lands, where for many years the soil has been lightly skimmed with
a small plow for a depth of t^o or three inches, and at this depth the soil
is crusted with a polished, impermeable floor, which is the reverse of what
is desired, and which must be broken up and pulverized if these lands are
to be made remunerative. That they bear unprofitable crops is no cause
for surprise. The real cause of surprise is that they produce even half a
crop of cane, and that they still do this speaks volumes for the wonderful
adaptability of the climate and the remarkable fertility of the land itself.
On such lands as these there seems no escape from the operation of the
subsoiler, as no other implement will quite penetrate and open up this
artificial hardpan. Upon virgin land any good, deep breaking plow will
answer, although the modern disc plows that turn a furrow of any desired
depth are preferred. In this plow, the rotating disc, instead of sliding
along the furrow, leaving a compact bottom, releases the farmer forever
from the perplexing question of future subsoilings. This disc plow, and
the double-mold-board plow for the economical building up of beds and
opening out drains, are the only heavy draft implements required for the
cultivation of cane. All subsequent tillage is prosecuted with light draft
disc harrows and cultivators of easy manipulation, and should properly
be considered under the head of "crop cultivation'' rather than that of
soil preparation. In stiff soils the disc plow can not be used with less
than three good American horses or mules, and it is doubtful if it could
be well operated in such lands with fewer than six carabaos. At this
time, when the sugar districts of the Islands have been almost depleted of
their live stock, it seems inopportune to recommend the doubling up of
draft animals by the use of heavy machinery. Still, it should be remem-
bered that these plows throw a furrow slice of twenty to twenty-four
inches, and will readily and properly prepare four to five acres in a day,
which is more than six carabao will imperfectly accomplish in the same
time with the small plow now in general use.
CULTIVATION OF SUGAR CANE. 11
The question of the application of these useful implements to the
preparation of cane lands, therefore, resolves itself into a question of
motive power, and to the judgment of the farmer, who must decide if a
possibly smaller acreage placed in a perfected condition does not offer
greater inducements than a larger acreage illy prepared and fraught with
prospects of crop failure.
Under the, existing live stock conditions, no other suggestion can be
made at this time than that given above of doubling up the available
farm animals until the required motive power is secured, and it is recom-
mended with the assurance that the farmers gains from a smaller, well-
handled acreage will more than compensate for the loss of acreage that
this concentration of power implies.
In preparing valley land for planting, some provision must be made for
times of food that does not apply to uplands. After the first heavy plow-
ing the land is to be fined down with a good harrowing. If the soil is of
free, open texture and handled at the time when still moist but not sticky,
the common form of sectional harrow will do good work. If inclined to
be cloddy the disc harrow will reduce the soil to the best condition of any
tool in common use. The land is then to be laid off in 5-foot beds, the
middles between them being opened up with a double-mold-board plow.
In valley lands that have been kept in the best condition, it is here that
the only occasion should arise for the -use of the subsoil plow for the
purpose of deeply opening up these middles, which will serve the double
purpose of drainage, and of supplying soil for the elevation of the beds.
The depth or shallowness of these furrows will be governed by the suscep-
tibility of the land to overflow.
In many tropical regions, and in most of the Philippines, the cane beds
are only made 3% to 4 feet apart, but where the highest skill is exercised,
and upon good soils the 5-foot planting should yield a tonnage equally
large and at a great saving of expense in both labor and seed cane.
SELECTION OF SEED CANE.
The cane used for seed should always be well ripened and selected from
such stools or "ratoons" as from mill tests show the most sucrose and the
highest purity. Careful selection for a few years, and the reservation of
a portion of the plantation for nursery purposes, will enable the planter
to maintain his seed cane at a high standard of excellence. The varieties
used here seem to be confined to the green and yellow sorts, of probable
Javanese origin. These canes, though rich in sucrose, are generally small
and insufficient in tonnage yield per acre. Further, and whenever there
is a steady decrease in size from lack of proper cultural methods, the
deterioration is accompanied with a relatively greater increase of fiber
that, in its turn, represents another loss at the mill. The many useful
striped, rose and purple canes, that have contributed to bring Hawaii to.
12 FARMERS' BULLETIN.
the front as the most prolific and profitable sugar region in the world,
have not, so far as can be ascertained, been planted in these Islands. *
Exhaustive tests have definitely established the fact that the upper
two or three feet of the cane the part least valuable at the mills is
well suited to seed purposes, and that no sugar 'deterioration has occurred
from its long-continued use. These tops can be all used, except the
extreme tips, which are sometimes inclined to "arrow/'
As soon as the ground is prepared a shallow furrow or trench is opened,
down the center of the bed with a double-mold-board plow, and the cane
laid down in the trench, the end of one piece touching the next through-
out the whole row. It is the custom, here and in Hawaii, to cut the cane
into single nodes a few inches long, and drop them at close intervals in
the furrow. Such a practice undoubtedly assures a stand from every
joint, but if the land has been brought to a fine condition of tilth, and the
whole of the cane is in intimate Contact with the soil, every joint in the
piece should break into bud. It will also be seen that the process is more
expeditious and labor saving.
Previous to planting, the seed cane should be soaked for two hours in
lime water of the strength of 2 pounds of slaked lime to 1 gallon of water.
This is recommended for the destruction of the eggs of pernicious insects,
but in every instance a rigid scrutiny of the seed cane should always be
made, and any piece that has been attacked by borers should be rejected.
As a remedial measure, I would place more faith in a soaking of the cane
in well diluted carbolic acid ; but, in view of the fact that the lime dress-
ing furnishes at once to the young plant an always-to-be-desired and
necessary element of fertility, this time-honored custom of all countries
may be generally adopted.
In this country the trench for planting may be shallow, and the soil
covered back with a light plow or disc harrow. Where irrigation is not
to follow, or where rainfall is so great that the water-carrying capacity of
the middles is apt to be overtaxed, all subsequent plowing or tillage
should be towards the cane row, with the end in view of having it always
The cane, when planted, if followed by good rains or by irrigation,
should begin to sprout within a week of the time it is wetted down, and
this is the time when the progressive farmer has recourse to the so-called
mineral fertilizers for the increase of crop and the maintenance of soil
1 Through the commendable enterprise of Capt. G. P. Ahern, Chief of the Fores-
try Bureau, an importation of these Hawaiian canes was recently made to this
country, and efforts will be made, by their rapid propagation, and further intro-
ductions, to effect future distributions of the same to planters. F. L. S.
CULTIVATION OF SUGAR CANE. 13
equilibrium. Aside from the humus and the means of providing for it
that has already been discussed, there are two essential ingredients of soil
fertility that exist in all rich lands, but upon which the sugar cane makes
extraordinary drains, and the application of these in the most available
forms not only meets with an assured response in a marked increase of
crop, but is a guarantee of a continued state of soil fertility that leaves
the farm capital always unimpaired. These ingredients are phosphoric
acid and potash, and there are apparently no insuperable obstacles in the
way of obtaining either. The former is probably to be had from the
many deposits of bat guano that exist in the Archipelago, and wherever
these deposits are found in caves, or have been protected from rain they
are almost certain to be rich in this valuable element. If the planter is
remote from any such source or from any known phosphate deposits,
there seems to be no alternative than its purchase and importation from
the Sandwich Islands or the United States.
These salts are more useful in the form of acid phosphates, and are
commercially known as "superphosphates" and carry from 10 to 20 per
cent of soluble phosphoric acid, and their cost is always based wholly
upon the prcentage of the acid they carry. In any event, the amount
required is small (200 to 400 pounds per acre) and at any reasonable cost
it should be obtained.
The supply of potash does not appear to be of such pressing concern
with the cane planter. Not only, if his land has been cleared and burned
over, there has been returned a considerable supply of this element, but
the indications are that most of the sugar lands of the Islands are already
rich in potash. Without recourse to a chemical analysis, there is a simple,
practical test whereby the farmer can determine this question for him-
self. Let him select two, or three, or more small plats typical of as many
different soils as the farm shows, and lay them down for two or three
years to different kinds of lucerns and clovers, giving them no manuring
whatsoever. If the growth from these plats is luxuriant, and they only
suffer from causes directly attributable to long-continued drought, he
may reasonably conclude that his land is provided with enough potash to
meet all the requirements of cane growing for many years.
In the use of acid phosphates or of bat guano, there is a process that is
both effective and economical for its application. It may be scattered
lightly in the furrow at the time of cane planting ; or, if it is used in the
form of bat guano, and where it is probably in combination with valu-
able nitrates, a furrow may be opened close to the cane, and the fertilizer
scattered lightly and evenly along both furrow and furrow slice, and then
all harrowed down smoothly with a disc harrow. There are drills now in
common use that are adjusted to deliver commercial fertilizers directly
where required and in precise quantities; but careful hand sowing can
be made equally effective.
14 FARMERS' BULLETIN.
It should be remembered in the application of manures of this class
that they are exceedingly soluble., and the greatest benefit from their use
occurs at the time when light showers are prevalent. If applied at the
time when the heaviest and long-continued rains are anticipated, a very
large proportion of the valuable elements will be leached out of the land
and carried away in the middles and drains. For the rest, all the subse-
quent cultivation to be given until the rows are crowded with suckers,
and the cane ready to lay by and ripen, is a constant but superficial stir-
ring of the surface with either hoe or cultivator.
After every rain, or so soon thereafter as the soil will admit of working,
this cultivation should never cease. It is the keynote of the successful
issue of the crop, and all the careful soil preparation and soil amend-
ments that have been bestowed in previous months are largely nullified,
if a hard, compact crust is permitted to form and remain upon the sur-
face. When the rows are completely crowded with cane, and the ground
well shaded, this surface induration will no longer occur, and the planter
can await the ripening of his crop with the assurance that every hour of
toil expended upon cultivation wiii oe many times repaid.
(HARVESTING THE CROP.
When the cane is ripe, and this is easily determined by the cessation of
growth and a general deepening in color, it is ready for harvesting. It
should be cut very close, or even with the ground in this climate, and the
tops and leaves trimmed off, when it is ready for delivery to the mill.
The tops are then gathered and buried in trenches of moderately dry soil
until required for planting. The leaves and trash are gathered and
burned, or else covered deeply in a furrow made by a double-mold-board
plow and allowed to decay. Both processes have strong advocates among
expert sugar growers ; but the process to be most commended will depend
on circumstances. If there be the slightest evidence of fungus growth,
or the presence indicated of any sap-sucking or cane-boring insect what-
soever, there is no option. Every vestige of refuse should be burned. If
such is not the case and there is, on the other hand, difficulty in obtain-
ing stable manures or other humus-making ingredients, burying the trash
will goi a long way toward the maintenance of soil fertility, and is the
best solution of the question of its disposition.
MANAGEMENT OP STUBBLE.
At one time three-fourths of all the cane grown on these Islands was
from stubble crops. Now, by long-continued depletion of the land, in
many districts it has become necessary to lay down the land to new seed
cane every year, and this system, despite its wastefulness, seems to be the
only one that affords planters any assurance of even a half crop.
Where the lands are not hopelessly exhausted, or facilities are at hand
for their renovation, there is no excuse for this wasteful policy ; and vir-
CULTIVATION OF SUGAR CANE. 15
gin land, or land that is maintained in rotation, should be profitably
handled for the second, or even a third year. The rational method of
treating the plantation destined to be carried over a second season as
stubble cane would be as follows: In the process of harvesting, the soil
will be more or less compacted by the trampling of the cane cutters, by
the cleaners, and by the carabao used in hauling away the crop. A
thorough and deep plowing is, therefore, once more necessary, and to this
must be added a complete forking over of the land in the stubble row
itself. This may be effected by hand, although there is a machine now
in common use, known as a "stubble digger/' which has a revolving, cul-
tivator-toothed attachment that works up the soil effectively and with
remarkable speed directly in the row, and with a little care, rarely tears
out a stubble root. From this point on, the manurial treatment and culti-
vation of a stubble crop is a practical repetition of that given to the seed
cane crop. This, in fact, would be the outline indicated for continuous
succession of crops were it not for the difficulties that confront the Phil-
ippine planter in the procurement of complete fertilizers and which
imperatively call for a crop rotation, every third year, if he would pre-
serve the maximum sugar yield for an indefinite time.
There is no reason why the third or rotation year should be operated
at a loss, or be given up wholly to soil recuperation. The method prac-
ticed in Mauritius, Eeunion, and most of the French colonies, would
doubtless be successful and profitable here. The third year the same
stubble is grubbed out, the land laid down as usual, and planted to corn.
When this has made fair growth and begins to "tassel" out, the ground is
sown broadcast to vetches, cowpeas, or some other quick leguminous soil-
ing crop. A fair to good crop of corn is usually secured and the legu-
minous forage is pastured down till the season comes for plowing it under
and reseeding the land to cane. This pasturing can only be done without
injury during the dry season, and the farmer who turns carabao in to
pasture in wet cane lands is inflicting incalculable mischief that will
take years of reparative treatment to overcome.
DRAINAGE AND IRRIGATION.
There are two subjects pertinent to the matter under consideration,
that will be made the subject of future bulletins, and that can only be
briefly touched upon in this paper. They are drainage and irrigation.
The former is indispensable to attaining a maximum of success upon the
littoral lowlands of these Islands, and ultimately a comprehensive system
of drains will control every well-equipped and well-managed plantation
in the Archipelago. The evil effects of stagnant water have been already
pointed out, and the indispensable necessity of deep, broad, middle ditches
and laterals, for the rapid diversion of storm waters, has been insisted on
elsewhere. These middles and laterals, however, are but makeshifts
offered for the immediate amelioration of water-logged cane fields until
16 FARMERS' BULLETIN.
they can be otherwise properly reclaimed. Open drains, to be efficacious,
must be constantly kept clean and in repair. This entails constant labor
and a very considerable and unnecessary sacrifice of land. Stone-filled
drains made of broken stone of graduated sizes are expensive, and in time
are apt to become clogged with fine silt. Tile drains will be the final
recourse,, and the excellence and abundance of the clay and the skill
shown by the Filipinos in its manipulation are additional reasons for
advocating their use. The financial condition of the planters at this time
justifies a recourse to the expedients previously mentioned, and the hope
is expressed that the profits arising from a better scheme of cane growing
may eventually enable them to place their fields in the highest and most
It is well known that a perfect system of tile drainage is almost a guar-
antee against the evil effects of drought. To those who lack full compre-
hension of the subject it appears paradoxical that a system primarily
designed to dispose of surplus water in the soil will, at the same time, act
as an agent for its restoration. Such is the case, however, and, on the
principle that nature abhors a vacuum, there can be no evaporation of the
surface waters without a supply constantly being drawn from below to
replace it. Further, this, like ail ^ater that is in motion, is pure, sani-
tary, and drawn upwards through the cane roots in just such quantities
as they can appropriate with the greatest benefit, and in dry seasons,
unless in excess, never flows to waste in the drains. It is, in short, the
auxiliary to the planter in the valley, that irrigation is to the cane grower
on the uplands.
The uplands promise to be of long-enduring value, and, ultimately,
more profitable than the valleys. The abundant water supply that pre-
vails in all the districts where sugar is now grown, is available for the
reclamation of immense areas to this purpose. Here the planter has posi-
tive and complete control of the situation. He is free from the ever-
recurring possibility in tropical countries of disastrous flood or inunda-
tion, while the danger of protracted drought need not be considered as an
element of crop failure. His control, in short, is so perfect that he can
apply moisture at the times when it is most beneficial, and withhold it
completely as his crop approaches maturity, when continued rain or mois-
ture would increase the sap in the cane, at the sacrifice and loss of the
sucrose he has patiently striven to elaborate.
Large areas of these uplands are frequently quite level, or with a gentle
slope towards the sea, and consequently present ideal conditions for the
ready distribution of irrigating waters. Some of the most valuable lands
are, however, more or less undulating, and although susceptible to irri-
gation, the successful manipulation of the water requires attention to
some simple engineering problems, which are, however, too extensive for
treatment at this time.
CULTIVATION OF SUGAR CANE. 17
In conclusion, it may be said that the rational treatment of sugar cane
involves that it be forced, and forced constantly, from the day the cane
first sprouts till it is ready to lay by and ripen. This forcing process can
hardly be overdone, and involves an adequate water and food supply, and
such constant tillage and forcing as will enable it to assimilate every par-
ticle of the food and water given. A check of any kind is fatal to the
fullest measure of success, and the cessation of the functions of growth
for only a few days means the elaboration of starch and fiber in lieu of
the sucrose we are after.
In common with every other form of vegetable life, vigor and luxu-
riance of growth affords more general immunity from the attacks of pre-
dacious insects or fungoid growths, and a consequent saving from the
losses which these entail.
GROWING SUGAR CANE IN HAWAII.
[Extract from a report on the agricultural resources and capabilities of Hawaii, by William C.
Stubbs, Ph. D., published in Bulletin No. 95, United States Department of Agriculture, Office of
The dominant crop in Hawaii is sugar. * * * Few places in the islands
where cane can be grown at all will yield less than 30 to 40 tons per acre * * *.
The table-lands surrounding the Islands at elevations of from 20 to 500 feet con-
stitute the chief sugar areas. * There are about 60 plantations on the
Islands, which yielded in 1898-1899 about 300,000 tons of sugar. These planta-
tions have about 100,000 acres in cane, one-half of which is harvested every year.
Under irrigation as much as lO 1 ^ tons of sugar per acre has been the
average of one plantation * * .
Table showing expenses per ton of sugar yroivn, and per acre.
Mule and steam plowing _
Cutting and hauling seed _ _
Preparing and planting
Watering _ _
Hoeing and weeding
Cutting and hauling cane
Pumping expense _ __ _
Sundry accounts (rent, interest, and all other expenses)
Manufacture _ _
Plant cane :
Total yield of cane (tons) 117,835
Yield of cane per acre (tons) 78.9
Purity of juice (per cent) 87.07
Amount of cane required to produce 1 ton of sugar (tons) 7.71
Total production of sugar (tons) 15,289.5
Yield sugar per acre (tons) 10.24
On the leeward side of the Islands, where irrigation is practiced, the land is
broken with steam plows to a great depth. Rows are laid off at 5-foot intervals
with very deep double-mold-board plows. Into these deep furrows the tops of the
cane are dropped in a continuous row, the soil is drawn in lightly with hoes, and
a shallow stream of water sent over the buried tops. In six to seven days a con-
tinuous stand of young canes is obtained. For the purpose of economizing water
the rows are laid off as nearly on a level as possible, and an open furrow for irri-
gating is maintained during, growth. After each irrigation, hoes draw in from the
adjoining ridges small quantities of soil in order to conserve the moisture applied.
Save irrigation and its incident hoe work and the trashing of cane, no other cul-
tivation is given. A contract is usually made with a head Chinaman to irrigate
and trash the cane from planting to harvest at so much per ton of cane harvested.
The contract is usually for 100 acres, the company furnishing the water. Con-
tracts are also made by the ton for the cutting and delivery of the cane at the
sugar house, the company furnishing the cars and engines. The breaking of the
land and the planting of the cane is usually done with hired labor.
On the rainy or windward side of the islands the conditions require entirely
different methods from those just described. The lands are broken in a similar ,
manner but less deeply, and the tops are planted in an open furrow and covered. I
When the plants are large enough, the work of cultivation begins, which is usually
done with plows, cultivators and hoes. This cultivation is continued until the
CULTIVATION OF SUGAR CANE. 19
canes are sufficiently advanced to "lay by." Every operation is similar to the best
practice in the cornfields of the West. Here reliance is placed entirely upon the
rainfall for furnishing the needed moisture to canes. Sometimes the rainfall is
excessive, at others deficient. Severe and protracted droughts which occasion great
loss to the planters occur at rare intervals. As a rule, however, the rainfall is
ample for good crops, and the extra expense of irrigation is avoided. Hence fre-
quently the windward plantations are just as good dividend payers as the leeward
estates, though the yields per acre are much less. Trashing of cane is practiced
here as on the leeward side. In both instances the dead leaves are piled up between
the rows, where they remain until after harvest, when they are burned. "Ratoon-
ing" or "stubbling" is not largely practiced. Only first-year ratoons or stubbles
are cultivated. Whenever, in the judgment of the manager, these will not produce
30 tons of cane per acre they are plowed up and the land replanted. Just here is
one of the secrets of the large success attending sugar growing on these islands.
Two-thirds, if not three-fourths, of the area each year is in plant cane. In Cuba,
Porto Rico, and other tropical islands cane is permitted to run for six to even six-
teen years, with the unavoidable result of annually diminished acre yields, and a
low average sugar output. Sugar planters elsewhere are disposed to doubt the
accuracy of the large published yields of Hawaii. Let them consider their own
enormous yields from plant cane, and then apply such results to their entire plan-
tations before they begin to question outputs obtained in these islands. It is true
that irrigation upon fresh lands, upon the warmer leeward sides, in a climate
almost perfect for maximum growth, has greatly increased the average output of
Hawaii, but the carrying of the largest portion of the crop as plant cane is unques-
tionably the main cause of the large yields. This is evidenced by the yield obtained
on the rainy or windward side of the Islands, which are much larger than those
obtained in Cuba and other tropical countries, even though much below the returns
of the irrigated plantations on the lee side of the same islands.
The cane when harvested is delivered to the sugar mills by wagons drawn by
oxen or mules, by rail, with horses or steam, by water flumes sometimes crossing
deep gulches, and by trolleys. Plantations use either one of the above methods, to
suit their peculiar environments.
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