Best Sugarcane Fertiliser to Increase Yields

Are you a disappointed sugaA farmer get a bountiful harvest after using the best sugercan fertiliser in the marketrcane farmer? Is your land productivity decreasing despite the heavy investment done to increase yields? We created this best sugarcane fertiliser guide to help farmers like you improve their yields, ultimately increasing their income.

Best Sugar Cane Fertilizer

Agronomically, the farmer has a lot of options for increasing their sugarcane yield. One crucial factor that can increase your sugarcane yield is nutrition. With proper nutrition, the sugarcane yield will increase and the sugar content and quality of the harvested crop.

Nitrogen: It is essential for high yielding crops. It promotes crop growth and development, which results in vigorous tillering.

Phosphorus is essential for root development, early shoot growth, and tillering. It also promotes early productivity and the lengthening of the internodes.

Potassium: Just like nitrogen, potassium promotes early crop growth, lengthening of the internodes, a wider cane girth, and increased yield. It is essential to note that the amount of potassium found in the soil needs to be balanced with nitrogen.

Magnesium, sulfur, and iron increase photosynthesis which is essential for high yields.

Calcium:  Promotes plant strength by safeguarding root, leaf, and stalk development, thereby preserving early crop architecture and yield.

 Boron and zinc assist in developing strong roots and early shoot development.

Sugarcane yields are highest on fertile soils with abundant water, especially during the tillering and growth stages.

How to Identify Nutrient Deficiency in Sugarcane Crops

Potassium Deficiency 

Potassium deficiency in sugarcane can be exhibited by necrosis and chlorosis of older leaves. Another symptom of potassium deficiency is dark stripes formed on the midrib. Potassium deficiency can be made worse by:

  • planting in acidic soils
  • Planting in areas with high rainfall
  • Drought condition
  • Heavy irrigation
  • Planting  in soils with low potassium reserves
  • Growing in soils rich in magnesium

Phosphorus Deficiency

The signs of phosphorus deficiency will vary from one sugarcane plant to the other. For example, there can be discolouration on the stem, while in some plants, the discolouration can be found on the tips of older leaves.

The purple discolouration found on the stem results from a weakened root system caused by several factors, one of them being poor soil structure, diseases, and salinity.  

Phosphorus deficiency can be caused by:

  • Planting in soils with low P reserves
  • Planting in iron-rich soils
  • Growing in soils with high phosphate levels 
  • Wet and cold conditions
  • Lower organic matter in the soil

Why is phosphorus essential:

  • Increases sugar yield
  • Increases tillers, root mass,  rate of canopy closure and stalk development

Nitrogen Deficiency

So how can you know That your sugar cane plantation is suffering from nitrogen deficiency?  The easiest way to tell is to look at the sugarcane leaves. If the leaves turn light green to yellow, you need to add nitrogen. 

Also, if you notice that the plants are not growing as they should {Have stunted growth}, then you need to consider adding more nitrogen to the soil.

However, always remember that the amount of nitrogen or nutrients you add to the soil must be a result of a soil test. So what are some of the most common causes of nitrogen deficiency;

  • High or low pH soils
  • Drought
  • Heavy irrigation
  • Low organic matter in the soil
  • Growing sugarcane in a land with high levels of non decomposed organic matter

Boron Deficiency

To identify boron deficiency, look at the leaf tips. If you spot necrotic leaf tips, you need to add more boron-based fertiliser to your sugarcane plantation. Boron deficiency is made worse by;

  • Alkaline soil
  • Growing sugarcane in sandy soil
  • Planting on land with high levels of Nitrogen
  • Drought 
  • Cold, wet weather

Most farmers tend to ignore the importance of boron despite its benefits. one main advantage of boron is that it improves cell integrity and help develop young shoots and roots. Also, it is important to note that boron helps the sugarcane plant effectively consume calcium, potassium and nitrogen. 

Sugarcane Growing and Best Practices

Sugarcane farming in Kenya is mostly done in the western region. Over the years, sugarcane farming in Kenya has been on a declining trend. This can be attributed to several factors: mismanagement by sugar companies and the other reason being over-exploitation of the agricultural land. 

This exploitation has resulted in low farm yields, resulting in low income for the farmer.

Ecological Requirements 

Sugarcane thrives best when planted in areas with a minimum rainfall of 1200mm -1500 mm. It should be planted in well-drained sandy soil. However, clay and loam are ideal. Sugarcane thrives best in soil with a pH of 6.5 though it can tolerate a more acidic environment.

Land preparation

Before you apply any sugarcane fertiliser, ensure you till the land with a tractor. Secondary preparation is preferred because it breaks remaining soil clods, refining the tilth further.

Sugarcane can be planted using the Ridge method and the Flat method. The best method is the Ridge method because it retains moisture. When planting sugarcane ensure, you do it before the onset of the rains. However, if you are irrigating your farm, you can grow it at any season.

 If using a commercial fertiliser, start with NPK and later top dress the soil after 30 to 45 days of planting. During the tillering stage,  sugarcane will require high amounts of nitrogen, which will help in canopy development.  

During the formative phase, add phosphorus fertiliser to promote good root development. A well-developed root system will help the sugarcane feed.

Pest Control

Apart from choosing the right sugarcane fertiliser, sugarcane farmers should identify and control pests before they cause havoc to their farms. Some of the pests that you need to know about are:

Early shoot borer: This pest attacks the shoot and feeds on the internal system of the stem. As a result, the sugarcane plant might suffer from stunt growth or even die.

Internode  Bore: As the name suggests, this plant attacks when the internodes start forming. If not controlled, the plant might die or suffer from stunt growth. 

Other pests and diseases that you need to be aware of include scale insects, termites, whiteflies and the red rot disease. 

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