Type of sugar cane

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Co 0238 – The Wonder Variety of Sugarcane

Sugarcane is an important cash crop of the country cultivated over about 5 million ha area including both sub-tropical and tropical regions. Sub-tropical region contributes more than 55% area of the sugarcane, however, cane yield and sugar recovery (%) are lower in comparison with tropical India.

Co 0238 (Karan 4) is a high yielding and high sugar content variety, derived from the cross Co LK 8102 x Co 775. This variety was evolved at the Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Regional Centre, Karnal and released by the Central Sub-committee on Crop Standards, Notification and Release of Varieties during 2009 as an early maturing variety for commercial cultivation in North-West Zone (NWZ) comprising the states of Haryana, Punjab, Western and Central Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan.

Co 0238 was evaluated at 7 locations under the AICRP (Sugarcane) during 2006-08 in NWZ. It ranked 1st for cane yield (81 ton/ha), 2nd for sugar yield and 5th for sucrose content (%). In comparison to CoJ 64, a well known early maturing variety of NWZ, it showed 19.96, 15.83 and 0.50% improvement in cane yield, sugar yield and sucrose % respectively. The jaggery of Co 0238 is of A1 quality with light yellow colour. This variety is moderately resistant to the prevalent races of red rot pathogen.

This variety has spread in the field at a much faster rate as it combines both high cane yield and better juice quality and hence is being preferred by both farmers and sugar industry. Since 2009-10, the area under Co 0238 has been increasing at a faster rate in all the five major sugarcane growing states, viz. Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, UP and Bihar in subtropical India. Though, this variety was released and notified for NWZ, however, it has crossed the boundaries of the zone to reach Eastern UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. During 2015-16, about 20.5% of the total cane area (21,77,802 ha) in North India was covered by Co 0238 (4,47,459 ha). Punjab had the maximum coverage (70% area) followed by Haryana (29%), UP (19.6%), Bihar (6%) and Uttarakhand (8.4%).

There was higher cane yield and sugar recovery (%) in 20 districts of UP due to increase in area under Co 0238 from 72,623 ha (3.1%) during 2013-14 to 1,76,763 ha (8.3%) during 2014-15. The mean cane yield of these 20 districts was higher by 2.7 t/ha in comparison with mean cane yield of 24 districts with negligible area of Co 0238. This resulted in additional cane production of 4.77 lakh tons (2.7 x 1,76,763). As a result, farmers of the UP state would have got an additional amount of 133.56 crores (4.77 lakh tonnes x 2800) as cane price. Hence per hectare profitability of farmers, who cultivated Co 0238, was higher by about 7500/-. Improved sugar recovery of 20 districts due to cultivation of Co 0238 would have led to production of additional 1,575 tonnes (4.77 x 0.33) (approx.) of sugar by the sugar mills in UP. In the process, sugar mills in the state earned additional amount of 3.94 crores (1,575 x 25,000).

Hence in the present scenario, the variety has helped in reducing the losses of sugar mills up to some extent. During 2014-15, Co 0238 has resulted in an additional return of 137.5 crores to the farmers and sugar mills in the UP state alone.

During 2015-16 season, one mill in Sitapur district of UP has recorded the highest sugar recovery (12.1%) on 21st December, 2015, which is the highest ever recorded in sub-tropical India. With the spread of this news of historic impact of Co 0238 on sugar recovery in UP, the ICAR – Sugarcane Breeding Institute is flooded with demands of seed of Co 0238 from many states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. This is a reversal of trend i.e. demand of a sub-tropical sugarcane variety in tropical India, observed for the first time in the history of sugarcane industry in the country.

Common Sugarcane Varieties: Learn About Different Sugarcane Plants

Growing sugarcane is most often a commercial affair, but home gardeners can also enjoy this sweet ornamental grass. If you live in a warm climate, you can grow sugarcane varieties in your garden beds to enjoy both the decorative look and for the sugar you can get at harvest time. Know the differences between sugarcanes so you can make the right choice for your backyard.

Types of Sugarcane

If you want to grow sugarcane and start to investigate how to go about it, you’ll find there are a lot of different sugarcane plants. It can be confusing, especially if you are reading information for farmers and commercial growing of sugarcane. To help narrow down your options, there are a few basic types of sugarcane:

  • Chewing canes. These are sugarcane varieties that have a soft, fibrous center which is good for chewing. The fibers tend to stick together as you chew so that spitting it out once the sugar is depleted is easier.
  • Syrup canes. Syrup canes have a variety of sugar types that don’t crystallize easily but are good for making sugar syrup. They are used commercially but also in the home garden.
  • Crystal canes. Crystal canes are largely commercial varieties with high concentrations of sucrose used to make crystallized table sugar.

Sugarcane Plant Types for the Home Garden

Most home garden sugarcanes are chewing or syrup varieties. Select the variety or varieties you want to grow based on how you want to use them. If you are only interested in an ornamental grass, choose based on appearance. There are some varieties that have interesting colors and patterns. ‘Pele’s Smoke’ has purple leaves and ‘Striped Ribbon’ has attractive stripes on the leaves and cane.

If you want a cane that you can chew, consider chewing canes. These are varieties with outer layers that are easy to peel off, sometimes just with your fingernails, so you can get to the pulp. Examples of good chewing varieties include:

  • ‘White Transparent’
  • ‘Georgia Red’
  • ‘Home Green’
  • ‘Yellow Gal’

‘Louisiana Ribbon,’ ‘Louisiana Striped,’ and ‘Green German’ are good varieties for making syrup.

The vast majority of sugarcane available is for commercial use. To find backyard varieties, search for heirloom sugarcane. There are a few organizations, based in the South and in Hawaii, that try to collect and preserve heirloom varieties. Farmer’s markets in southern regions may also have sugarcanes for sale for home gardeners.


Whether it’s labeled as-is or hiding under a name like evaporated cane juice or dried cane syrup, sugar is an ingredient in nearly every food category. But sugar is sugar, right? Actually no – all sugars are not created equal. There are many different types of sugar and some perform better in certain applications than others.

Beyond adding sweetness, sugar plays a key role in product color, texture and mouthfeel. Sugar is necessary for the mouth-watering flavor and color produced by browning or caramelizing foods like the golden top of a fresh-baked cookie or the caramelized edges of roasted vegetables. Sugar is also essential for fermentation in yogurt, bread and soy sauce. Sugar can even help prevent baked goods from becoming stale or dry and can preserve color in frozen fruit products.

When formulating food products, it’s important to consider different types of sugar to determine which is best for your needs. However, understanding the distinctions between types can become tedious and confusing. We created the following guide to help expand your knowledge of cane sugar sweeteners and their defining qualities. By the end of this article, you should have a better sense of which type(s) of sugar you need for your next hit product.

Crystalized Cane Sugar

Organic Cane Sugar

Measuring Color:
The color of sugar crystals can vary, especially with organic cane sugar. Color is measured and specified according to the International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis (ICUMSA). ICUMSA units range from 45 IU (refined white sugar) to 16,000 IU (very dark brown sugar).

To produce crystalized organic cane sugar, or organic granulated sugar, sugar cane stalks are first harvested and crushed. The resulting juice is clarified to remove solids, heated, and concentrated into a syrup. This syrup is made up of sugar and molasses. The syrup is seeded with sugar crystals to promote crystallization, boiled and put in a centrifuge to separate out some (but not all) of the molasses. Finally, it is dried and packaged.

Organic cane sugar is a single crystallization sugar, because it was only crystalized once. The ingredient some refer to as evaporated cane juice is also a single crystallization sugar (whether it is organic or conventional).

Because some molasses and trace minerals are retained inside the crystals, organic sugar crystals are golden in color and can have a mild, pleasant floral or fruity aroma and flavor. Organic cane sugar also tends to have slightly larger crystals than white sugar and size can vary by origin.

Conventional White Sugar

What about beet sugar?
This guide deals only with cane sugar but some sugar comes from sugar beets. Once made into white sugar, cane and beet sugar are indistinguishable. According to the USDA, 55% of the sugar produced in the US is beet sugar and 95% of the US sugar beet crops are genetically modified. Since organic certification prohibits GMOs, most organic sugar is cane sugar. Unlike beet sugar, cane sugar is always non-GMO because there are no commercially viable GMO sugar cane varieties.

Conventional white sugar is also referred to as refined sugar, granulated sugar or table sugar. Besides the many agricultural differences between conventional and organic cane sugar, white cane sugar is made from re-melting conventionally grown single crystallization sugar (see “organic cane sugar” above). It is then refined further to remove all traces of molasses and minerals before being re-crystallized as pure sucrose. Since white sugar is crystallized twice, it is a double crystallization sugar. After that, it is whitened, using carbon filtration (sometimes bone char) and ion exchange (resin), before being dried and packaged. White sugar is available in many crystal sizes such as baker’s special, fine, ultrafine, caster and sanding sugar.

Demerara, Turbinado & “Sugar in the Raw”

The name Demerara refers to the area of British Guyana in which this type of sugar originated. Turbinado simply means “of the turbine,” or centrifuge. There is no official definition but it typically describes a sugar similar to Demerara. “Sugar in the raw” is a Turbinado style sugar.

Both Demerara and Turbinado are single crystallization sugars with large, well-formed crystals. While in the centrifuge the surface molasses is washed off with steam but the molasses inside each crystal remains intact. This results in a dry, free-flowing, pale golden sugar with a mild molasses flavor. The larger crystal size makes an excellent sanding sugar for bakery products and brings a smooth flavor and crunch as a topping.

Demerara and Turbinado sugar are sometimes lumped into the category of “brown sugar.” However, unlike the brown sugar described below, these are dryer, more free-flowing and have larger crystals.

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is a combination of crystalized sugar and molasses but every processor makes it slightly differently. This causes variations in size, color and stickiness. Purchasers should pay special attention to specs because of these differences. It is also important to get samples from multiple suppliers to find one that best suits your needs.

Two methods of processing brown sugar are as follows:

  1. First, it can be crystalized at origin where the molasses is not removed or is only partially removed. Muscovado, also known as Barbados sugar, is a type of brown sugar that fits into this category. While there is no official definition, the term muscovado usually refers to a dark, molasses-rich sugar that is only partially centrifuged. Muscovado is very sticky, moist, dark in color and has flavors of molasses and burnt sugar.
  2. The second method does not have to be completed at origin. Instead, molasses is added into conventional white or organic cane sugar after the sugar has been fully produced. Global Organics’ organic light and dark brown sugar are made this way using Native organic cane sugar. These moist sugars are slightly less sticky, have a fruity or floral aroma and a moderate molasses flavor.

Finally, there is the distinction between light and dark brown sugar. Dark brown sugar simply has more molasses than light brown sugar, so it is darker in color and has a stronger molasses flavor and aroma.

Confectioners Sugar

Also known as powdered sugar or icing sugar, confectioners sugar is made from very finely ground conventional white or organic cane sugar. Powdered sugar is available in several degrees of fineness, or particle sizes, ranging from 3X to 14X (the higher the number, the smaller the grain).

A small amount of starch is added to the ground sugar to prevent clumping. Conventional confectioners sugar is almost always made with cornstarch whereas organic confectioners sugar can be made with either organic cornstarch or organic tapioca starch. Because both starches are well refined and used in small amounts, they do not impact the flavor of the final product. However, sugar made with cornstarch and tapioca starch can behave differently when heated.

Liquid and Invert Sugar

Organic cane sugar or conventional white cane sugar can be used to create liquid or invert sugar. Liquid sugar is crystalized sugar that has been dissolved in water. This is helpful for use in applications where the sugar would need to be dissolved. Organic liquid sugar is available in regular or low color. To make the low color, the syrup goes through a carbon filtration process to remove impurities.

Liquid sugar is best for large-scale applications where an ingredient that can be pumped directly into the line increases efficiency. For some products like beverages or yogurt, this can be a faster option than unloading pallets or totes, opening bags and pouring the large quantities of dry sugar.

Invert sugar is produced when crystalized sugar (sucrose) is broken down into varying ratios of fructose and glucose. For full invert sugar, the ratio is 50/50 with equal amounts of fructose and glucose. Medium invert is typically 50% sucrose, 25% glucose and 25% fructose.

Since invert is a mixture of glucose and fructose, it’s less prone to crystallization and can therefore be made at a higher concentration (or higher brix) than liquid sugar. Less water in the solution means greater microbiological stability. In product applications, invert is often used to increase moisture retention and control crystallization to improve texture and mouthfeel in packaged foods like bars and baked goods. It may also be perceived as a clean label alternative to high fructose corn syrup.

Non-Crystalized Cane Sugar (Non-Centrifugal Sugar)

Whole Cane Sugar

Also called evaporated sugar or whole cane sugar, non-crystallized sugars are not put in a centrifuge and the molasses is not separated out of the crystal. Instead, the juice from crushed sugar cane stalks is clarified and the liquid is evaporated until the sugar spontaneously crystallizes. Usually this forms a solid block after cooling to room temperature.

The resulting sweetener, which retains all molasses and minerals, can be chipped off in chunks or ground into brown granules. Because of its high molasses content and affinity to absorb water, whole cane sugars are typically not free flowing and are very difficult to handle in large, industrial-scale applications. For this reason, they are primarily sold in retail stores for direct consumption.

Depending on the country of origin, whole cane sugar goes by many different names including panela (Latin America), rapadura (Brazil), jaggery (India), kokuto (Japan) etc.

All Global Organics cane sugar ingredients are certified organic and non-GMO. If you would like a sample of any of our organic cane sugar sweeteners, contact your account manager or email [email protected]



Sugarcane is propagated primarily by the planting of cuttings. The sections of the stalk of immature cane used for planting are known as seed cane, or cane sets, and have two or more buds (eyes), usually three. Seed cane is planted in well-worked fields. Mechanical planters that open the furrow, fertilize, drop the seed cane, and cover it with soil are widely used.

sugarcane fieldField of sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) in St. George Parish, Barbados.© patpitchaya/Fotolia

Seed cane is spaced 1.4 to 1.8 metres (4.5 to 6 feet) apart at densities 10,000 to 25,000 per hectare (4,000 to 10,000 per acre). Under favourable conditions, each bud germinates and produces a primary shoot. Root bands adjacent to each bud give rise to a large number of roots, and each young shoot develops its own root system. Tillering, or sprouting at the base of the plant, takes place, and each original seed cane develops into a number of growing canes, forming a stool. The plant crop is obtained from these stools.

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Another method of cane propagation is by ratooning, in which, when the cane is harvested, a portion of stalk is left underground to give rise to a succeeding growth of cane, the ratoon or stubble crop. The ratooning process is usually repeated three times so that three economical crops are taken from one original planting. The yield of ratoon crops decreases after each cycle, and at the end of the last economical cycle all stumps are plowed out and the field is replanted.

Sugarcane is grown in various kinds of soils, such as red volcanic soils and alluvial soils of rivers. The ideal soil is a mixture of sand, silt, and clay particles, with a measure of organic material. The land is plowed and left to weather for a time before subsoiling (stirring up the subsoil) is carried out. The crop demands a well-drained soil, and drains—on the surface, underground, or both—are provided according to the topographic conditions of the fields.

To attain good yields, sugarcane requires 2,000 to 2,300 mm (80 to 90 inches) of water during the growing period. When precipitation is deficient, irrigation, either by spraying or by applying water in furrows, can make up for the deficiency. The growth period for cane crops varies considerably according to the region: 8–9 months in Louisiana, U.S.; 15 months in Australia and Taiwan; 18–22 months in Hawaii, South Africa, and Peru. The lowest temperature for good cane-plant growth is about 20 °C (68 °F). Continuous cooler temperature promotes the maturation of cane, as does withholding water. Harvesting and milling begin in the dry, relatively cool season of the year and last for five to six months.

Fertilizers are applied to sugarcane from the beginning of planting through the whole growth cycle but not during the ripening period. Optimum amounts of fertilizers (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) vary greatly with soil types, climatic conditions, and the kind and length of the growing cycle.

To secure a good crop, weeds in the cane fields must be attacked until the cane stools develop a good canopy, which checks weed growth. Weeding, still largely manual, is done with a hoe, though mechanical cane weeders with attached rakes have been developed. Chemical herbicides are widely used.

sugarcaneSugarcane harvesting and processing in BrazilEncyclopædia Britannica, Inc.See all videos for this article

The mature cane is harvested by both manual and mechanical means. Some mechanical harvesters are able to sever and discard the tops of erect crops and cut cane stalks, which are delivered into a bin trailer for transport to the mill by tractor or light railway wagon.

A cutting machine on a plantation in southeastern Brazil harvesting sugarcane, the primary source of ethanol biofuel in the country.© alffoto/iStock.com

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