There are two planting seasons: Rabi or fall sowing in September - November and spring sowing in February - March. Fall planting starts from the first week of September and continuous to mid-October in the Punjab and Sindh, while in the KPK. planting is done in October and November. Spring planting starts from mid-February and lasts until the end of March in the Punjab and Sindh. These planting times are strictly observed because late planting can reduce the yield by as much as 30 percent.
September planted crop usually produces 25 to 35 % higher yield. In Pakistan Planting time of sugarcane planting is usually carried out in autumn and spring seasons. Autumn planting is of high yield and high sugar recovery compared to spring planting. In fact, September planting gives very luxuriant growth, which is mostly vulnerable to lodging. The crop gives good appearance till June-July but is subject to lodging in July or even earlier if there are wind storms or excessive rains.
SUGARCANE SOWING PICTURES
Appropriate seed rate and spacing are often ignored by farmers with the result that the optimum plant population which is the key factor in sugarcane production is not achieved in the field. The seed rate and spacing between rows differ with variety. Thick-cane cultivars like BL - 4, and PR - 1000 require a higher seed rate and more space between the rows than thin and medium-cane varieties. 80 - 90 maunds of stripped cane per acre for thick varieties and 60 - 70 maunds for medium to thin varieties are sufficient to produce a desired plant population about 60000 canes per acre.
Sets should be selected only from new cultivated immature crop as an over mature crop will have a large number of dry scale buds. In the case of dry scale buds it should be treated with lime solution. All sets should be equal in length with 2-3 buds. Sets should be cut with a sharp tool sickle or axe.
Method of Planting
Spacing between the rows should be 3 feet of thick varieties and 2 – 2.5 feet for thin to medium varieties allows sufficient space for operations like intercultural and earthing up. It is also observed that planting sugarcane in furrows 4 feet apart in double row, spaced at 9 inches. It gives much better crop stand, and ultimately more yield than traditional methods. This method of sowing is called “2 in 1” means two sugarcane setts rows in a single trench with about 9 inches space between them.
Depth of Planting
Double-cut sets are placed end to end in furrows at a depth of 8 – 12 cm and covered with 5 – 6 cm soil. In the dry method immediate irrigation is essential and subsequent irrigations at short intervals.
Hot Water Seed Treatment
Seed may be treated with hot water at 52 °C for 30 minutes and with fungicide. This will help in better germination and the control of many cane diseases.
Amount of Soil Cover Over Seed Cane
Research on depth of soil cover over seed cane indicates that soil cover in excess of 4 inches can cause yield losses even if the excess is removed in the spring following planting. Heat-treated cane should be covered with 2 inches of packed soil. After the cane is up to a good stand and before freezing weather occurs, add an additional 2 inches of soil to protect from freeze damage. Do not cover heat-treated cane with more than 2 inches of packed soil at planting.
Use healthy seed of improved varieties of sugarcane. This can increase cane yield from 20 to 25 per cent. Sugarcane varieties recommended for various provinces are given below.