Sugarcane farming

Hi All !

I have taken an acre of land on lease and started sugarcane cultivation.
See the photos here:

Comments are welcome.

Looks great, kudos to your patience.
Keep us posted how it goes!

Dear Varaahan,
Harveting is already over now.
What was the yield of crops?
What was the rate per tonne sold?
Don’t think you may used for making joggery.

What is the status now of the sugarcane plot?
2nd crops is good?

Hello Varaahan,

I am planning to start Sugarcane farming this season (January) on 3-4 acres, can you please share your plantation costing details (per acre if possible).

Thank you,

The cost depends on the method used , spacing of crops and cost of labour in your area.

I prefer the SSI method in which a simple machine is used to cut the single buds . Theses single buds are used to grow saplings. I used small tea cups with two holes punched at the bottom . A mixture of soil , compost and a little river sand is filled upto 3/4 th of the cups and sugarcane buds are buried in the soil mixture . A little soil mixture is sprayed on the buds leaving just the bud to be visible. Using a spray , water is sprayed thrice a day so as to keep the soil moist but not soggy. The cups are to be kept under shade as the young saplings can not survive in hot sun . You will be surprised to see the shoots coming up in just a single day which is not possible in direct planting. Before burying the buds in soil mixture , dip them in Jivamrutha for a few minutes. The cups are to be kept in diffused sunlight for which you can use green shade net. The saplings are transplanted in to the main field in about a month.

In the conventional method , people use about 2.5 tons of sugarcane per acre but in SSI method just 0.5 ton of sugarcane in enough . This is with a row to row distance of 6 feet and plant to plant distance of 2 feet. If you change the measurements , the need may differ.

Don’t use any chemicals .

A nice link is here : … UcqprPDxSw

Good luck .

Thanks a lot for the reply :slight_smile:

I have seen this link and I think I would follow most except the sowing technique. I agree that the required cane is reduced by 80% and the mortality rate is slightly lower but compared to the current labour prices (around Rs.150 per Manday), the startup cost would be almost the same in both techniques. Can you please think about anymore advantages with the sowing technigue proposed in SSI manual, which makes this technique preferable.


The start up cost is never the same. The SSI method gives scope for selection of good saplings which results in higher production.

The required seed rate is much less and so is the cost of sowing .

I remember paying Rs. 1000/= for half a ton of sugarcane. For seeding two men were hired for 2 days which , at your rate , comes to Rs. 1200/= . The bud cutting work may be entrusted to male labourer while the seeding work may be done by female labourers. I prepared 4000 seedlings ( 500 above the required 3500 to allow for bad growth ).

The tea cups cost Rs.20/= per 100.

The transplanting work was done by 4 people for 2 days which results in an expenditure of Rs. 12000/= at the rate specified by you. So the total comes to Rs. 2400/= . Allow a margin of 100 % and it comes to Rs. 4800/= or say Rs.5000/= . So the total expenditure comes to around Rs. 6000/= per acre which is way lower than the current rates.

Besides , in SSI method there is uniformity of plants which results in the plants getting sufficient sunlight and air , reduced water needs , fertiliser application etc.

The six feet gap between rows ensures machine cutting of sugarcane which results in reduced labour costs . Even weeding , earthing up can be done by power tillers in SSI method.

So the advantages in SSI are many.

If you still are apprehensive of this sowing technique , I’d suggest you to chip the bud and sow them directly on the wet field and cover them immediately with sugarcane leaves or other mulch material , as the young saplings can not withstand the heat of sun ( at least that was the case in my trial ) . In the initial period of one month , it is necessary to keep the moisture level at the root zone.

Dear Mr Varahan
what is the tool that you used to cut the sugarcane?
R Vasudevan

Thanks Varaahan, I see the value even with the start up costs. Can you give me the details on the tool used for bud-cutting.

The tool was lent by the sugar cane inspector of a private sugar mill .

See this video :

These links may be useful : … emove-buds … rvest.html

The machine costs less than Rs. 1000/= . Usually the sugarcane companies provide such cutting machines free of charges for use for a short duration , say a week or so.
Hope this helps.

Dear All,

Varahaan has not calculate many other expenses in SSI method like tray, machine, transportation of each material. If you do it practically it will cost more than the traditional method and also it requires lot of care and for that you will need technical people.

Technique is good but need a lot of experience and technical knowledge. Also if you do not have waste management services the cost of seed will be equal to the traditional method. Secondly the chip can be grown in coco-pit only others medium will not give good results.


This is not true .

I used plastic tea cups instead of egg / plastic trays.
I used a portion of my main field for growing saplings and so there was no transportation cost involved .
The only machine used was the bud chipper which was lent free of charge for a week by the sugar cane company .

I have given a detailed account of the expenses involved right from my own experience and still some people are suspicious , that too even without providing any kind of calculations .
Such generic statements hold no water .

With traditional method, you need around 2.5 to 3 MT per acre and this turns out to be itself 6-7 K, Using the SSI method - the cost of sugarcane required is 1-1.5 K max. Transporting Cane to farm is needed in both methods anyways almost, the only difference is labour requirement and advantages that SSI method gives :slight_smile: 

The quantity of sugarcane needed for sowing depends on the sowing pattern too.

It differs in

  1. single row seeding with three budded setts with row to row distance of 3 feet
  2. single row seeding with two budded setts with row to row distance of 3 feet
  3. paired row sowing in which the setts are sown on the opposite ridges of a furrow.
  4. ring pit method in which 3 feet wide pits are dug at a distance of 5 feet and each pit used 32 to 40 two budded setts.
  5. SSI method with plant to plant distance of 2 feet and row to row distance of 6 feet .

Actually you can calculate the exact requirement of sugarcane setts needed allowing a 10 % extra margin to compensate for the bad growth of some saplings.
Another advantage is while chipping the buds itself you can eliminate deformed buds and you can be sure of getting good germination percentage.
Again you can reject badly grown saplings at the time of transplanting .
This helps in getting almost uniform growth rate and higher returns .

For an acre it is enough if you have 0.75 ( max) tonnes of sugarcane .

And How are you irrigating your Sugarcane - Drip or Flood? I have just enquired about the Drip for an acre and is coming around 35 K per acre, so I do not think this to be a good proposition for me with current Subsidy schemes in AP.I am travelling to the farm tomorrow to start the preparation work - firstly checking for the bud-chipping tool.

Commercial drip systems use elaborate systems but they come with subsidy.
One good option is to contact ide people.
They provide cheap drip systems but you won’t get subsidy .
you can browse this site :

Drip irrigation is a good water saving alternative, though I have not used one.

Good link - though KB Drip was not available in AP. I just located another vendor and the cost they promise is 12K, which is way below the branded ones - which are selling via the Govt. of AP via the subsidy scheme. Looks like in the name of subsidy, farmers are being forced to buy drip systems at considerably higer costs…


You are right.
There is always a collaboration between the govt. and industrialists to loot public money in the name of various schemes. Drip irrigation is one such.

Drip tech eliminates the emitter tubes and rely on the punched holes so that water forces out of the holes like a small jet.

Please see this link too : … teral-tape

Even with drip irrigation I’d like to suggest heavy mulching of the farm so that water evaporation is minimized .

Also beware of rat menace in drip irrigation.

What kind of Intercropping are you performing in Sugarcane, smaller crops are quite regional but just wanted to have some insight. I expect the plantation to be ready by January end, thinking about Maize as Intercrop.

How many times have you removed the grass and weeds from your farm, and was using Heavy Mulch during rainy season helpful in controlling the weeds?

What was your average yeild this year, could you get average profit around 2000-2200 INR per MT?

Sorry for too many questions but you are a good source of information for me :slight_smile:

Thanks for the compliment ! :slight_smile:

I’d like to know your plan about the distance between the crops.
If the row to row distance is big , you can grow multiple intercrops.
I’d suggest groundnut , cowpea , Uradh dhal, Thoor dhal , onion etc. as these plants mature within 3 to four months and also they are helpful in nitrogen fixation .
These can be used as mulch material after harvest .

Before spreading the mulch , do weeding once and use the weeded plants as mulch.

I have read some people cultivating rice as intercrop with furrow irrigation but this does not give the nitrogen fixing advantage.

Good luck !