Silica 1.78 Phosphate of lime 3.41 Red oxide of iron and clay .17 Carbonate of potash 1.46 Sulphate of potash .15 Carbonate of magnesia .43 Sulphate of lime 6 —— 7.46
The following is the quantative analysis of a portion of soil taken from the surface of a cane field, on the Diamond estate, in St. Vincent, West Indies: —
Alumina soluble in acids 12.87 Organic matter 11.26 Gypsum .23 Carbonate of lime 12.52 —— of magnesia .71 Oxide of iron 8.51 Oxide of manganese .33 Insoluble silicious and aluminous matter 53.57 ——— 100.00
The sugar of the cane and grape sugar are distinguished by the following difference in their elements, as proved by analysis:—
Cane sugar. Grape sugar. Carbon 12 12 Hydrogen 10 12 Oxygen 10 12 Water 1 2
There is a remarkable difference, however, between their fermentable properties. When a solution is made of the same quantities of these two sugars, in equal proportions of distilled water, it will be necessary to add eight times as much of the same ferment to induce alcoholic fermentation in the solution of cane sugar, as in that of grape sugar. Under the action of a larger quantity of ferment, cane sugar is transformed into grape sugar.
If you cut a sugar cane in two, and examine the interior part of it with a magnifying glass, you perceive the crystals of sugar as distinct and as white as those of double-refined sugar. The object of the operator should be then either to extract those crystals without altering their color, or, if that be found impracticable, to separate them from the impurities mixed with them, while the juice is in its natural state, and yet contains but little coloring matter. Instead of this, the juice is limed while all the impurities are in it. In separating the feculencies from the juice and uniting them in large flakes, lime dissolves a portion of them and forms with them coloring matter, which we all know at once discolors the juice, when lime is used in excess. Afterwards heat is applied, either in clarifiers or in the grand copper, but most of the impurities found in the juice will decompose, and burn at a degree of heat far below the boiling point, say at 120 deg. of Fahrenheit. This is shown by the thick scales continually forming in the grande. From that degree of heat the decomposition goes on in the clarifier till the juice is drawn, and continues in the grande so long as there are feculencies left. This decomposition greatly increases the quantity of coloring matter, so that, as the juice is being clarified, it loses in color what it gains in purity. And here let me show the relative value of the "grande" and of clarifiers as agents of clarification. In the grande, if it is well attended to, the scummings are taken up as soon as they rise. A portion of them is removed before they begin to decompose, and the process goes on, so that before the juice reaches the boiling point nearly all the feculencies are removed, and the source of coloring matter is removed with them. Clarifiers reach the boiling point much quicker, and cannot easily be scummed. The general practice is to bring them to that point without scumming, to let the feculencies separate from the juice by cooling and by rest, and to wash out the clarifiers every second or third time they are filled. Heat and alkalies acting in them upon the accumulated feculencies of one, two, or three charges, dissolve a much larger portion of those feculencies than they can possibly do in the grande. The formation of coloring matter continues during the time of rest, and accordingly planters, after repeated trials, generally agree that juice well clarified in the grande, has a lighter and brighter color, and makes better sugar than that obtained from clarifiers.
The first object of research should be to find means of clarifying the juice without creating coloring matter. It is said that presses something like those used to press cotton, have lately been successfully employed in the West Indies, instead of rollers; that the juice obtained is much purer, and that a much larger quantity of it is extracted from the cane. If so, this will be a great improvement, and the first step of the process I should recommend. From juice thus obtained, I have no doubt that all impurities less soluble than itself may be separated by mechanical means before heat and alkalies are applied, or at least with a very small quantity of alkalies. All other liquids, all fatty substances and oils, except cotton seed oil, are clarified by a very rapid process. Cane juice can no doubt be clarified by similar means, and if this were accomplished the process of sugar making would be very much simplified.
The clarified juice might then be placed in an evaporator, heated by the waste steam of the engine; then be limed and scummed if necessary, and concentrated to fifteen or sixteen of the prese sirop; then purified by filtration through animal charcoal, if white sugar was wanted, or by rest for other qualities; and finally concentrated in vacuum pans of great power, such pans as Mr. Thomas A. Morgan, of Louisiana, now uses, and which, I am informed, are only made in America.
The superiority of the vacuum pan is not universally admitted, and we are told that in France it is superseded by open pans, similar to those called in America "Mape's Evaporators." However this may be, I cannot help believing that the vacuum pan has many decided advantages over all others. One is manifest; the sugar may be grained in the pan, and the granulation is completely under the control of the operator. He may accelerate or retard it at pleasure; he may carry it so far that sugar will not run from the pan, and will have to be taken out of it; he may so conduct the operation as to increase, almost at will, the size and hardness of the crystals. This last is an indispensable requisite if the practice of draining sugar in pneumatic pans should be adopted.
The atmospheric pressure is made too powerful for sugars boiled in any other manner; it breaks and destroys the crystals, and in a very few days sets the sugar to fermenting.
The pneumatic draining of sugar has many things to recommend it—the usual loss by drainage is avoided, sugar is got ready for market day by day, as it is made, and it may be bleached by pouring white syrup over it and forcing it through the mass. It is said that the process is attended with considerable loss in weight, but as all that drains from the pan may be boiled over once or twice, it is not easy to conceive how the loss can occur.
Cane juice contains many ingredients besides sugar, the principal of which are albumen, gluten, gum, starch, resin, wax, coloring matter, and certain salts, all of which, either collectively or individually, have the power of preventing granulation, as may be proved by their addition to a syrup of pure sugar, which will then defy all attempts to make it crystallise. If, therefore, we want to make good sugar, we must endeavour to free our cane juice as much as possible from those substances.
Now, cane juice is no more the sap of the cane, than apple juice is that of the apple tree; it is the natural product of the cane, and, in all probability, would contain but a small proportion of these foreign matters if it could be expressed without being accompanied by the sap, they being the natural constituents of the last-named fluid. A patent has, I believe, been lately taken out for separating the cane juice without the sap. However, in the absence of such an improvement, much may be done by care and attention at the mill; the green bands and trash which usually accompany the canes from the field, should, therefore, be carefully removed before they are passed through, as they contain no saccharine matter, abound in the deleterious substances already mentioned, and communicate a bad color to the juice; therefore, the ripe cane only should pass through the mill. There are but few planters who have not had to contend with sour juice, and they attribute the difficulty they experience in making sugar therefrom, to the presence of acetic acid, or vinegar; but this is quite an erroneous idea, as the acetic acid is very volatile, and evaporates quickly on the application of heat, which may be proved by throwing a gallon of strong vinegar into a pan of liquor; it will do no harm, provided it be boiled before tempering; on the contrary, the effect, if it be properly done, will be beneficial, as it will promote the coagulation of the albumen; it is the gum which is always formed during the acetous fermentation of sugar that prevents granulation; hence, then, acidity is strictly to be guarded against, as fermentation once commenced, it will be impossible to make good sugar, it will continue throughout the process, and even in the hogshead; so that canes should be ground as soon as possible after they are cut, and all rat-eaten and broken ones carefully excluded. Canes may, however, be kept some days without fermenting, provided they be not broken or damaged, it being, as we said before, the mixture of the sap and the cane juice that makes the liquid so prone to fermentation; and the mill, gutters, and everything with which the juice is likely to come in contact, should be kept carefully clean, and whitewashed immediately after, and the whitewash removed before use, as acetate of lime being an exceedingly soluble and deliquescent salt, will not improve the quality of the sugar; whilst the gutter should be short, and sheltered from the sun's rays, they having the effect of greatly expediting chemical action.
I shall say no more on this subject, but will proceed to consider the mode of tempering and clarifying cane juice, and the action of lime on the various substances contained therein. The expression "tempering" has, I presume, been, adopted in consequence of the use of tempered lime for the purpose of precipitating the feculencies, held in solution in the cane juice, into a state of suspension; and clarification is the process by which we afterwards clear the liquor of these and other foreign matter. Now, as I before observed, "fermentation should be most strictly guarded against;" our first efforts should be directed to free the cane juice from those substances most conducive to that process; and on inquiry we find these to be albumen and gluten; so far, however, from getting rid of them in cold tempering, we adopt a course which retains them permanently in solution, as lime has the power of rendering them permanently soluble, and of forming soapy compounds with resin, wax, and chlorophyle, or the green coloring matter of leaves, forming an insoluble compound with and precipitating only the starch, and converting at the same time the green color of the chlorophyle (which is, in all probability, attached to the resin), into a dark brown, of a greater or less intensity, according to the composition of the cane juice, and, consequently, the quantity of lime required; it follows, therefore, as a matter of course, that if juice be tempered before these substances have been removed, they must be permanently retained, and they have all the power of preventing granulation.
Albumen, and gluten are both coagulable by heat; if, therefore, we raise the liquor to the boiling point prior to applying the lime, taking care to remove the scum as soon as it shows signs of breaking, and continuing the boiling until the scum thrown to the surface becomes inconsiderable, we shall find that the albumen and gluten, in coagulating and rising, have carried with them the small particles of woody fibre, the wax, and a large proportion of the coloring matter, and that the lime will now throw down the starch, and any other little impurities remaining in suspension in the liquor, leaving it perfectly clear and bright. Tempering is an exceedingly delicate chemical operation, and I have no hesitation in saying, that on its proper performance depends the quality of the produce. The following simple experiments, which all have it in their power to try, will, if they give themselves the trouble, fully satisfy them of two important points—the superiority of the hot over the cold mode, and the necessity for great attention to the operation of tempering. Let them take a tumbler of cane-juice and a bottle containing lime water, add the latter to the former by drops, pausing and stirring between each, and they will find that, after the addition of a certain quantity, the opaque gummy appearance of the liquor undergoes a change, and the impurities contained in it separate into flakes, which increase in size with each drop of lime added, until they become extinct, and the supernatant liquor perfectly transparent; this is the precise point at which the liquor is tempered, and each drop of lime added after this, causes the flakes to diminish rapidly in size, at last entirely to disappear (being re-dissolved), and the liquor to resume its former gummy appearance; it is, therefore, evident that there should be no such expressions as tempering high or low.
The reason why some liquor is so difficult to clean is, that it is either tempered high or low; if it be exactly tempered, the impurities contained in it being entirely separated and thrown out of solution, rise to the surface immediately on the application of heat, and are easily removed; but if there be too little lime, a great portion remains in solution, and if too much, a proportional quantity is re-dissolved; and in either case cannot be removed by any mechanical means. It is, therefore, necessary to have some precise test for the application of lime.
As regards the superiority of the hot over the cold tempering, let any one take, in separate vessels, two gallons of cane-juice, and temper one, adding the lime in small quantities—say, of three grains at a time—and keeping an account of the quantity used; he will find that the first portions produce no effect whatever, and that it is only after the addition of a considerable quantity that the desired precipitation of the impurities manifest itself. Why is this? Because albumen, gluten, resin, and chlorophyle, being soluble in lime, lime is equally so in them, and they must first be saturated before it will produce any other effect. Let the liquor thus tempered, be then placed on one side. Put the other gallon over a fire, and boil it, removing the scum just before, and during, ebullition; let it then be taken off the fire, and tempered in the same way as the other. The very first quantity of lime added causes the appearance of the floccy precipitate; and if the addition of the lime be continued until it be precisely tempered, it will be found that the hot possesses the following advantages over the cold-tempered liquor:—In a quarter of an hour its impurities will have subsided to a sixteenth of its bulk, leaving the supernatant liquor as bright and clear as pale brandy; while those in the other have only sunk to one-quarter of its bulk. The color of the former clear liquor will not be less than one-half the intensity of that of the latter. The lime used in the hot has been less by one-third than the quantity used in the cold tempering.
Of course, on level estates there is little difficulty in tempering liquor, but on hilly properties scarcely two pans will require the same quantity.
It is generally believed that the object of adding lime to cane-juice is for the purpose of neutralising an acid, and it is to the reception of this fallacious idea that it is indebted for its long and continued use, and the present backward state of sugar manufacture is attributable: I unhesitatingly assert that, if there be an acid present in the cane-juice, the addition of lime to it will be injurious instead of beneficial. There are only four acids that we could expect to find in cane juice—mucous, saccholactic or saclactic, oxalic, and acetic acids. The three first named of these, however, have never been traced, even in the most minute quantities; and if the latter be present, which, unfortunately, is but too often the case, the addition of lime would only result in the formation of acetate of lime, which is, as I have already observed, an exceedingly difficult crystallisable, very soluble, and deliquescent salt. It has a bitter, saline taste; 100 parts consist of 64.5 acid, 35.5 lime, and it is easily recognisable by its taste in the molasses made from sour cane-juice: so that, supposing the cane-juice sour, every pint of acid present would require nearly half a pound of lime for its neutralisation, independent of the quantity required for the tempering or precipitation of the feculencies contained in it, and would result in the formation of one-and-a-half pound of the above mentioned highly deleterious salt.
Suppose we boil the cane-juice prior to tempering it, we then drive off a great portion of acetic acid, much less lime will be required, and if we could, by filtration or subsidence, get rid of the precipitated feculencies, we should make a tolerably good sugar; but as, under the present plan, we have no means of so doing, the acetic acid, which is forming during the whole process of evaporation (as fermentation still goes on), unites with the lime before it can be dissipated by the heat, and thus not only forms acetate of lime, but causes the re-solution of the precipitated feculencies, thus rendering it necessary to add a fresh portion of lime in the tache, a proceeding always to be avoided, if possible, but generally necessary in boiling down sour liquor. Take a small portion of cane-juice (hot or cold) in a tumbler, and temper it with lime until the feculencies are precipitated and the flakes perfectly visible, then add vinegar by drops, and it will be found that the flakes will speedily disappear and be re-dissolved, showing that lime has a greater affinity for acetic acid than starch, and that, although when added to sour cane-juice, it neutralises the acidity, still that result is a consequence, not the cause, of the application, and is highly injurious. Lime is one of the greatest known solvents of vegetable matter; it dissolves albumen, gluten, gum and lignin, or woody fibre, forming soapy compounds with wax, resin, and, chlorophyle. Ordinary cane-juice contains about three parts of resin to every 100 of sugar, and the projection of a small piece of soap into a tache full of granulating syrup will soon convince any one of the effect likely to result from the presence of that material. Although, by tempering hot, we get rid of a very great quantity of the substances on which lime acts injuriously, a considerable portion of them remain in suspension, the quantity of albumen contained in the cane-juice not being sufficient to carry them all off by coagulation; on the addition of the lime, however, they are entirely dissolved and as the impurities left behind consist chiefly of gluten, the liability of the liquor to ferment is greatly increased by its retention, that being the fermenting principle contained in wheat and other vegetable productions prone to that process.
One hundred parts of Albumen consist of Carbon, 52.88; Oxygen, 23.88; Hydrogen, 7-54; Nitrogen, 15.70. Gluten, nearly same as Albumen.
-+ -+ -+ -+ -+ -+ + 100 parts Excess! Excess consist of Carbon. Oxygen. Hydro- Carbon. Water. of of gen. Oxygen Hydrogen -+ -+ -+ -+ -+ -+ + Lignin, or Woody Fibre 51.45 42.73 5.82 or51.45 48.55 Starch 43.55 49.63 6.77 43.55 56.45 Sugar 42.47 50.63 6.90 42.47 57.53 Gum 42.23 50.84 6.93 42.23 57.77 Alcohol 51.98 34.32 13.70 51.98 38.99 9.03 Acetic Acid 50.22 44.15 5.63 50.22 46.91 2.87 Resin 75.94 13.34 10.72 75.94 15.16 8.90 Wax 81.79 5.54 12.76 81.79 6.30 11.01 -+ -+ -+ -+ -+ -+ +
By a reference to the foregoing table it will be easily understood how slight a change in the proportion of the ingredients of any one of the substances contained therein will convert it into an entirely different one. In chemistry we are able, to a certain extent, to imitate the operations of nature; but we must follow in the same course laid down by her; thus, we can convert woody fibre, or sawdust and starch, into sugar, gum, alcohol, and acetic acid; but we cannot convert alcohol, acetic acid, or gum into sugar, starch or woody fibre; and of such importance is a slight alteration of the proportions of these elements—carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen—that the abstraction of carbon from sugar, and the addition of a portion of the prime support of life, vegetation and combustion, oxygen, changes the harmless sugar into the most violent of poisons, oxalic acid, which consists of 26.57 carbon, 70.69 oxygen, and 2.74 hydrogen.
Let us now examine the action of lime on sugar, and we shall find it equally, if not more, injurious than on the other substances. Sugar is capable of dissolving half its weight of lime, by which its sweet taste is destroyed, and it becomes converted into gum; the lime abstracting carbonic acid from it to form a carbonate of lime or chalk. It will be seen by the above table that—
100 parts of sugar contain 42.47 carbon. 100 parts of gum contain 42.23 ditto. ——- Difference 24
So that, if we extract 24-100ths of a grain of carbon from 100 grains of sugar, we convert them into gum. Let us suppose that about two ounces of lime, or say 1,000 grains, remain in solution in a pan, (say 200 gallons of liquor,) those 1,000 grains of lime will require 761 of carbonic acid to convert them into carbonate of lime or chalk, 100 grains of which consist of 56.2 lime and 43.8 carbonic acid. So that 1,761 grains of chalk consist of 1,000 lime and 761 carbonic acid. Now 100 grains of carbonic add consist of 27.53 carbon and 72.47 oxygen; therefore 761 grains will consist of 209.50 carbon and 551.53 oxygen.
Consequently, 1,000 grains of lime will require 209.50 grains of carbon to convert them into carbonate of lime; and as we have seen that the abstraction of 24 from 100 grains of sugar convert them into gum, it follows, that the abstraction of 209.50 grains would have a similar effect on 87,000 grains, or about 15 lbs. of sugar, which, being converted into gum, would prevent the crystallisation of several times its weight of sugar; and this is the cause of the formation of molasses. The loss of sugar is not the only bad consequence of the use of lime, as the greater the quantity of gum in the liquor, the more it must be boiled—the more it is boiled the darker it gets—and the higher the temperature at which the skip is struck, the smaller the grain. The following is a good proof that lime dissolves albumen, and becomes converted into chalk:—Take a spoonful of syrup out of the tache of any estate on which the liquor is tempered cold; it will be found filled with small flakes; these are albumen set free from its solution in the lime by the conversion of the latter into carbonate of lime, and coagulated by heat. It is perfectly possible to temper liquor, so that scarcely any uncrystallisable sugar will remain; but planters do not like this; they must have molasses for the still-house; they could, however, boil low, by which the grain and color would be improved, and plenty of uncrystallised, although not uncrystallisable, syrup would be left to take the place of molasses.
I think I have now fully proved the following facts, viz.:—That the use of lime in sugar-making is not to neutralise an acid; that if acidity be present, the application of lime is injurious; that its action on gluten, albumen, wax, resin, and chlorophyle is equally so; that by decomposing the sugar and forming gum, the quantity of molasses or uncrystallisable sugar is much increased, whereby high boiling is rendered necessary, with its consequent heightening of color and injury to the grain of the produce, and that therefore it is perfectly unfit for the purpose of tempering cane-juice.
Messrs. Thomas Begg and Co., of London, have procured from E.F. Telchemacher and J. Denham Smith, an analysis of one gallon of ordinary plantain juice, and one gallon of Ramos' prepared plantain juice "for the purpose of ascertaining whether any substance can be used which, in conjunction with water, will answer as a substitute for the plantain juice in the receipt which accompanied the samples." The chemists say they find that one gallon of ordinary plantain juice holds in solution;—
Extract similar to tannin 25.60 grains Vegetable extract and fatty matter 57.70 " Carbonate of potash 150.40 " Muriate of potash 33.60 " Muriate of soda 2.00 " Silica 1.20 " ——————- Contents of one imperial gallon 270.50 grains
—whilst one gallon of "Ramos' prepared plantain juice" contains, besides vegetable extract, 226 grains of solid matter, consisting of sulphuret and potash, in the following proportions:—
Sulphur 40 grains Lime 156 " Potash 30 " ————— 226 grains
They do not think it likely that the potash exists in fresh plantain juice as carbonate, but rather that this salt is the product of decomposition, arising from a compound of potash and a vegetable acid, such as tartaric or oxalic acid present in the fresh juice; be this as it may, any utility derivable from the plantain juice is evidently owing to the potash it contains.
They then give as a substitute for Ramos' liquid, and to be used in a similar way, the following—
Take of subcarbonate of potash 2 ounces, avoirdupois; sulphur, 21/4 ounces; best British lime slaked, 11/2 lb.; mix them into a paste in an earthen pan or wooden tub, with one quart of water (warm) and when thoroughly mixed, pour in ten gallons of boiling water—rain water is the best to use—and stir from time to time until it has cooled, when it may be drawn off from the sediment and kept for use. If rain water cannot be obtained, the purest water obtainable may be used.
One of the causes most fatal to West Indian prosperity, is that exuberance of advantages which they enjoy from serenity of climate and fertility of soil—causes which, in the absence of proper stimulus to industry and improvement, have led to an improvident system of cultivation, and to a blind and ignorant adherence to wasteful methods of manufacture.
The cane is believed to contain from 90 to 95 per cent. of its own weight of saccharine juice; and yet (as Mr. Fownes, a Professor of Practical Chemistry in University College, London, informs us, in an excellent paper "On the Manufacture of Sugar in Barbados," from which much of what follows has been borrowed) owing to the defective construction of the mills, hardly so much as 50 per cent. is obtained, although he believes it practicable, by an improvement in the mills, to obtain from 70 to 75 per cent.; and of the remaining 10 or 15 per cent. which he regards it as impossible to extract, much, if not the whole, might, I conceive, be obtained, by macerating the pressed canes or megass, as it issues from the mill, and repassing it through the rollers; and, be it remembered, that from 40 to 45 per cent. of saccharine juice is nearly, if not altogether, equivalent to a similar per centage of sugar; so that by these initiatory improvements alone, and with little additional trouble, the produce of sugar might be nearly doubled from any given quantity of canes.
From the action of lime-water when added in a slight excess to the cane juice or raw liquor, as it is vernacularly termed, immediately on issuing from the mill, as well as from the effect produced by ammonia or potash, this liquid appears to contain a considerable quantity of cane sugar, mixed with much glucose, or that saccharine matter which is found in fruits; gum or dextrine, phosphates, and probably malates of lime and magnesia, with sulphates and chlorides, potash and soda, and a peculiar azotised matter, allied to albumen, which forms an insoluble compound with lime, is not coagulable by heat or acids, and runs readily into putrefactive fermentation.
To free it from these constituents, and enable it to yield pure and crystallisable sugar, the liquor, on entering the boiling-house, is received into the first of three clarifiers, of the capacity of from three hundred to a thousand gallons each. Here it is subjected to the action of lime-water, which checks the tendency to fermentation, and neutralises any free acid which it may contain. "The common defection process," says Mr. Fownes, "in careful hands, seems susceptible of little improvement. Many other substances than lime have been proposed and tried with more or less success, some of which, in particular states of the cane juice, may prove very useful; but, for general purposes, nothing seems to answer so well as neutralisation by lime, either in the form of lime-water or milk of lime, added until the slightest possible tendency to alkalinity, as ascertained by delicate reddened litmus paper, is perceived. The juice should be somewhat heated before the lime is added, and afterwards raised quite to the boiling point. The fire is then to be withdrawn, and the whole allowed to rest a short time." Such is Mr. Fownes' description of the process of clarification; to which I will venture to add, upon the authority of those who have experienced its good effects, the joint use of the mucilage of the Guazuma ulmifolia, or gun-stock tree, as it is popularly termed in Nevis from the use to which its timber has been applied. This is the bastard cedar of Jamaica, or Orme d'Amerique, and Bois d'Orme of the French, which may be found described by Lunan, in the first volume of his "Hortus Jamaicensis," page 59, under the name of Bubroma Guazuma.
This tree presents in the interval between its outer bark of sap-wood, a mass of fibrous matter about half an inch in thickness, richly impregnated with mucilage, which is obtained by macerating the fibrous mass, conveniently divided into small shreds, for about twelve hours, in warm water, in the proportion of about two handsful to eight gallons of water. Of this solution, which is of a light, straw color, and somewhat thickened, one gallon is to be added for every hundred gallons of cane juice, after the clarifier has been charged with the proper quantity of lime-water, and has become lukewarm. The mixture should then be stirred, and afterwards allowed to settle till the scum has risen to the surface. The fire must next be cautiously and gradually raised to the point of boiling, when it must again be slackened, and the whole left to stand for about forty minutes, by which time the mass of feculencies will have risen to the surface, when the clear liquor underneath may either be drawn off by a siphon or cock; the whole may be filtered as Mr. Fownes recommends, by which means the liquor would be more effectually clarified, and much, if not all, the subsequent labour of skimming dispensed with. The matter remaining on the filter may be employed, either as a ferment in the still-house, or added to the manure heap. Much of the beneficial effect of the mucilage of the guazuma arises probably from an admixture of tannin, or some other astringent; for I have often been struck with the peculiar whiteness of the potted sugar in the curing-house, in the immediate vicinity of the Banana stalks, resulting, no doubt, from their powerful astringency; and tannin has already been found useful in the manufacture of sugar from beet-root in France, and is no doubt equally applicable to cane-sugar.
The liquor, when clarified in the manner described, must be concentrated, by regulated evaporation, to the degree requisite for crystallisation. This Mr. Fownes advises to be done by steam of a moderate pressure circulating in a spiral of copper-pipe laid at the bottom of the evaporating vessels, which should be large and shallow, and wholly unlike those in present use. Here it may be rapidly boiled down till the heat rises to about 225 deg., without risk of burning. When cold, it should have a density of about 1.38, and mark the 38th degree of Baume's hydrometer; beyond which point of inspissation it would be dangerous to go. The remaining concentration will be most safely conducted in the vacuum pan, where a scarcity of water does not, as in Barbados, militate against its use.
Mr. Fownes exposes the absurdity of using shallow coolers, exposing a large surface, and producing a rapid evaporation, for the process of crystallisation. By the use of the shallow coolers formerly, and, I believe, yet to be found on most estates, from the rapidity of the evaporation, the sugar is obtained in a mass of confused and imperfectly-formed crystals, entangling in their interstices a considerable quantity of molasses, which impairs the color of the product, and escaping slowly, and with difficulty, is, to a considerable extent, lost on the homeward voyage by drainage into the hold, occasioning much positive loss to the owner, and giving the bilge-water a most offensive odor. He therefore recommends the use of deep vessels, and avoidance of all agitation in this part of the process, so as to enable the crystallisable portion of the syrup to effect a more complete separation from the uncrystallisable portion or the molasses. By this simple method, not only sugar of a finer and whiter quality would be obtained, but a large per centage of loss both of crystallisable and uncrystallisable sugar at present caused by the leakage of the hogshead into the hold, would be prevented, not only to the great advantage of the planter, but to the great comfort of the captain, passengers, and crew of the vessel freighted with it.
It is not improbable that, by re-boiling the molasses in the vacuum-pan, and employing tannin in the manner adopted in the process for making sugar from beet-root, from one to five per cent. of crystallisable sugar could be recovered from it, and this per centage might possibly even be found to admit of increase by the further treatment with lime-water and the gun-stock tree s already suggested, for the first clarification of the liquor received from the mill. With this view, Mr. Fownes recommends the substitution of puncheons, or casks, for the molasses cisterns ordinarily employed in the curing-house, to receive the molasses as it drains from the new sugar, and thus retaining it until after the busy period of crop time has closed.
Should sugar of a whiter quality than the ordinary muscovado of commerce be desired, this advantage may be readily obtained, as Mr. Fownes judiciously observes, by filtering the thin syrup, ready for the vacuum-pan, through a bed of fine charcoal, as is done by the sugar refiners, and afterwards washing the crystals of sugar with white syrup, when the molasses has thoroughly drained from them. By this process, which, however, is attended with some increase of expense, and may not, in consequence, be always advisable, muscovado sugar may be obtained, of a quality hardly inferior to that of refined sugar. Mr. Fownes thus sums up the principal points to which he is desirous of calling the attention of the intelligent and enterprising planter.
1. "To obtain, by the use of a properly-constructed mill, the greatest possible amount of juice from the cane."
By this, according to Mr. Fownes, a gain of from 20 to 30 per cent., equivalent to as much marketable sugar, may be obtained without any additional expense; but as, from Mr. Fownes' own showing, there is a residuum of 10 to 15 per cent of liquor obstinately retained by the megass, or cane trash, after the most powerful pressure to which it can be subjected; much, if not all, even of this loss might be prevented by subjecting the megass, on issuing from between the rollers, to the action of water for a brief time, passing it once more through the mill, and adding the saccharine solution so obtained, or that obtained directly from the cane on its first crushing. The water thus employed would serve for many successive portions of megass, until at length it became so richly loaded with saccharine matter as to be worth attention in the boiling-house; or, at all events, it would be serviceable for the cattle, who would fatten rapidly upon it. By this additional process a further gain of at least five per cent. might be expected, raising the total gain from improvements in this first stage of the process, to from 25 to 35 per cent.
2. "To clarify and filter this juice with expedition, and to evaporate it rapidly, either over the open fire or by steam heat, as far as it can be done with safety."
By the use of steam, not only is a vast economy of fuel effected, but the temperature is maintained at a uniform and sufficient standard, and the liquor effectually guarded against the risks of carelessness or ignorance. Coal may be obtained on far cheaper terms, in exchange for produce, from the United States or from Cape Breton, than from England; and as colliers from those quarters would find it their interest to bring cargoes at their own risk, and take return cargoes of sugar, rum, or molasses, at the market price, the planter will be doubly a gainer by the system, obtaining his fuel at a reduced rate, and having his trash and megass left free as manure for the use of his cane fields.
3. "To complete the concentration in a vacuum pan, or by other means, at a moderate temperature, not hurtful to the sugar, and facilitate the natural process of crystallisation, so as to obtain sugar of a large and distinct grain."
4. "To drain and dry the sugar perfectly, and to save all the molasses."
The advantages to be anticipated from these improvements, superadded to an improvement in cultivation, cannot be estimated at less, upon a moderate calculation, than from 150 to 200 per cent. of increase in the production of sugar, with hardly an appreciable increase of labor or expense; for we have, in the first place, a gain by improved culture of, at least, two hogsheads an acre in sugar, equivalent to 100 per cent.; in the next, by employing improved mills and extracting the residuum, 30 per cent.; by conducting the process of manufacture more judiciously, 10 per cent.; and by the prevention of waste during the transit to market, 10 per cent., making a total of at least 150 per cent.
The common sugar-mill consists of three cylinders, tightened either by wedges, if in a wooden frame, or by screws in a cast-iron frame. If in an iron frame, the above-mentioned noise is obviated, but the friction and loss of power is the same, which is ascertainable by subsequent investigation. The cylinders or rollers, which are moving either horizontally or vertically, are from eighteen to twenty-four inches in diameter, with bearings or shafts of one fourth of their diameter. If the bearings or shafts of the cylinders were of less substance, they could not resist the great strain to which they are subjected when in operation. The whole of the prime mover (steam-engine, water-wheel, or animals), minus the friction of intermediate machinery, is transmitted to the plains of these rollers and resisted by their bearings; hence the action is equal to a weight moving on low wheels of eighteen or twenty-four inches in diameter, on axles of from four to six inches thickness, which weight is equal to the force applied; consequently, if the strain is greater than the resistance of the rollers or the bearings, they must be wrenched off, or if greater than the force applied, the mill will be stopped. The power necessary to move weights upon wheels, on a smooth and level surface, is in proportion to the respective diameters of wheels and axles. The same pull which moves one ton at a given velocity upon a wheel of two feet, with an axle of six inches, will move four tons, if on a wheel of four feet diameter, with an axle of six inches. Consequently, cylinders of small diameter, with strong and substantial bearings, are only admissible as working machines, if no other mechanical means are applicable, as, for instance, in rolling out metals, compressing the surface of various bodies for a glossy appearance, or, generally speaking, to produce a certain and equal form of the substance which is pressed and passed between them. They compress the atoms of bodies, and for this reason alone are ill suited to separate the fibres of the sugar canes, and to express effectively the saccharine matter between them. A practical proof of this demonstration is furnished by every sugar cane which has gone through the mill. Fresh megass is at present better suited for fattening animals than for fuel under the sugar pans.
The loss of material thus sustained, which is, on an average, equal in every mill, whether driven by steam, water, or animal power, is entirely chargeable to the construction of the mill, and amounts to about ten per cent. of the saccharine matter contained in the sugar canes.
M. Duprez, an agent of the French Government, having experimented on the canes in Guadaloupe, found the quantity of juice in every 100 lbs. crushed—
lbs. 1 By mills having horizontal rollers; the motive power not stated 61.2 2 By mills, motive power, steam 60.9 3 By mills, motive power, wind and steam 59.3 4 By mills, having vertical rollers 59.2 5 By mills, motive power, cattle 58.5 6 By mills, motive power, wind * 56.4
[* Dr. Evans' "Treatise on Sugar," p. 75.]
The average of all these experiments being 56 per cent. only. The result of M. Avequin, on Louisiana cane, was 50 per cent. Mr. Thompson, of Jamaica, states 50 per cent. as the average throughout the island of Martinique. Dr. Evans ventures 47 per cent. as the lowest, and 61 per cent. as the highest in the West Indies. A mill in Madeira gave 47.5 and 70.2 of juice—the larger yield being obtained by bracing the horizontal rollers more than usually tight, and introducing only a few canes at a time, the motive power being cattle.
The three roller mill has the disadvantage of re-absorbing a part of the cane juice in the spongy megass, (or trash as it is termed in the West Indies), and a loss of power.
Those with five rollers have been used in Cuba, Bourbon and the Mauritius, which gave 70 per cent., but a great increase of motive power is necessary. Four roller mills, two below and two above, requiring little more motive power than three rollers, have given 70 to 75 per cent of juice.
Some years since, the East India Company instituted inquiries relative to the cultivation of the sugar cane in Hindostan, and the information obtained was published in a large folio volume. The Reports furnished by their officers, from almost every district, concur in stating that there were three kinds cultivated:—1. The purple. 2. The white. 3. A variety of the white, requiring a large supply of water. The epitome of the Reports affords this information:—
1. The purple colored cane yields a sweeter, richer juice, than the yellow or light colored, but in less quantity, and is harder to press. Grows on dry lands. Scarce any other sort in Beerbhoom, much in Radnagore, some about Santipore, mixed with light colored cane. Grows also near Calcutta; in some fields separate, in others mixed with pooree or light colored cane. When eaten raw, is more dry and pithy in the mouth, but esteemed better sugar than the pooree, and appears to be the superior sort of cane. Persons who have been West Indian planters do not know it as a West Indian cane.
2. The light colored cane, yellow, inclining to white; deeper yellow when ripe, and on rich ground, it is the same sort as that which grows in the West India Islands; softer, more juicy than the Cadjoolee, but juice less rich, and produces sugar less strong; requires seven maunds of pooree juice to make as much goor or inspissated juice as is produced from six of the Cadjoolee. Much of this kind is brought to the Calcutta markets, and eaten raw.
3. The white variety, which grows in swampy, lands, is light colored, and grows to a great height. Its juice is more watery, and yields a weaker sugar than the Cadjoolee. However, as much of Bengal consists of low grounds, and as the upland canes are liable to suffer from drought, it may be advisable to encourage the cultivation of it, should the sugar it produces be approved, though in a less degree than other sugars, in order to guard against the effects of dry seasons. Experience alone can determine how far the idea of encouraging this sort may answer.
Besides the foregoing, several kinds are now known to the Indian planter. One of them, the China sugar cane, was considered by Dr. Roxburgh to be a distinct species, and distinguished by him as Saccharum sinensis. It was introduced into India in 1796, by Earl Cornwallis, as being superior to the native kinds. It is characterised by a hardness which effectually resists most of the country rude mills; but this hardness is importantly beneficial, inasmuch as that it withstands the attack of the white ants, hogs, and jackals, which destroy annually a large portion of the common cane. Dr. Buchanan found that four kinds are known in Mysore. Two of these are evidently the purple and white generally known; but as this is not distinctly stated, I have retained the form in which he notices them. Restali, the native sugar of the Mysore, can only be planted in the last two weeks of March and two first of April. It completes its growth in twelve months, and does not survive for a second crop. Its cultivation has been superseded by the other.
Putta-putti.—This was introduced from Arcot, during the reign of Hyder Ali. It is the only one from which the natives can extract sugar; it also produces the best Bella or Jaggery. It can be planted at the same season as the other, as well as at the end of July and beginning of August. It is fourteen months in completing its growth; but the stools produce a second crop, like the ratoons of the West Indies, which ripen in twelve months.
Maracabo, Cuttaycabo.—These two are very small, seldom exceeding half an inch in diameter; yet in some districts of Mysore, as about Colar, the last-named is the variety usually cultivated; but this arises from its requiring less water than the larger varieties.
The best varieties are those introduced from the Islands of Otaheite and Bourbon. Hindostan is indebted for their introduction to Captain Sleeman, who brought them hither from the Mauritius in 1827. He committed them to Dr. Wallich, under whose care, at the Botanic Garden, they have flourished, and been the source from whence the benefit has been generally diffused. Their superiority over those which have been usually cultivated by the natives has been completely established. The largest of the Hindostan canes, ripe and trimmed ready for the mill, has never been found to exceed five pounds; but it is not uncommon for an Otaheite cane, under similar circumstances, to weigh seven pounds. The extra weight arises proportionately from an increased secretion of superior sap. The sugar is more abundant, granulates more readily, and has less scum. Other superior qualities are, that the canes ripen earlier, and are less injured by the occurrence of protracted dry weather.
Of the history of the sugar cane a popular tradition obtains amongst the natives, that, in very ancient times, a vessel belonging to their country chanced by accident to leave one of her crew, under a desperate fit of sickness, at a desert island, at a considerable distance in the Eastern Seas, and that, returning by the same route, curiosity prompted them to inquire after the fate of their companion, when, to their utter astonishment, the man presented himself to their view, completely recovered from his sickness, and even in a state of more than common health. With anxiety they inquired for the physic he had so successfully applied, and were conducted by him to the sugar cane, on which he acquainted them he had solely subsisted from the time of their departure. Attracted by such powerful recommendation, every care and attention was bestowed, we may suppose, to convey such an invaluable acquisition to their own lands, where the soil and climate have mutually since contributed to its present prosperity.
Soil.—The soil best suiting the sugar cane is aluminous rather than the contrary, tenacious without being heavy, readily allowing excessive moisture to drain away, yet not light. One gentleman, Mr. Ballard, has endeavoured to make this point clear by describing the most favorable soils about Gazepore as "light clays," called there Mootearee, or doansa, according as there is more or less sand in their composition.—Trans. Agri-Hort. Soc. i. 121.
Mr. Peddington seems to think that calcareous matter, and iron in the state of peroxide, are essential to be present in a soil for the production of the superior sugar cane. There can be no doubt that the calcareous matter is necessary, but experience is opposed to his opinion relative to the peroxide.
The soil preferred at Radnagore is there distinguished as the soil of "two qualities," being a mixture of rich clay and sand, and which Mr. Touchet believed to be known in England as a light brick mould.
About Rungpore, Dinajpoor, and other places where the ground is low, they raise the beds where the cane is to be planted four or five feet above the level of the land adjacent.
The experience of Dr. Roxburgh agrees with the preceding statements. He says, "The soil that suits the cane best in this climate is, a rich vegetable earth, which on exposure to the air readily crumbles down into very fine mould. It is also necessary for it to be of such a level as allows of its being watered from the river by simply damming it up (which almost the whole of the land adjoining to this river, the Godavery, admits of), and yet so high as to be easily drained during heavy rains. Such a soil, and in such a situation, having been well meliorated by various crops of leguminous plants, or fallowing, for two or three years, is slightly manured, or has had for some time cattle pent upon it. A favourite manure for the cane with the Hindoo farmer is the rotten straw of green and black pessaloo (Phaseolus Mungo max)." Many accordant opinions might be added to the preceding, but it seems only necessary to observe further, that "the sugar cane requires a soil sufficiently elevated to be entirely free from inundation, but not so high as to be deprived of moisture, or as to encourage the production of white ants (termes)."
The sugar cane is an exhausting crop, and it is seldom cultivated by the ryot more frequently than once in three or four years on the same land. During the intermediate period, such plants are grown as are found to improve the soil, of which, says Dr. Tennant, the Indian farmer is a perfect judge. They find the leguminous tribe the best for the purpose. Such long intervals of repose from the cane would not be requisite if a better system of manuring were adopted.
Mr. J. Prinsep has recorded the following analysis of three soils distinguished for producing sugar. They were all a soft, fine-grained alluvium, without pebbles. No. 1 was from a village called Mothe, on the Sarjee, about ten miles north of the Ganges, at Buxar, and the others from the south bank of the Ganges, near the same place. There is a substratum of kunkar throughout the whole of that part of the country, and to some mixture of this earth with the surface soil the fertility of the latter is ascribed:—
1 2 3 Hygrometric moisture, on drying at 212 deg. 2.5 2.1 3.6 Carbonaceous and vegetable matter, on calcination 1.8 2.1 4.0 Carbonate of lime (No. 3 effervesced) 1.6 0.6 3.9 Alkaline salt, soluble 1.0 1.1 0.3 Silex and alumina 94.1 94.1 88.2 ——- ——- ——- 100.0 100.0 100.0
The earths unfortunately were not separated. Mr. Prinsep says the two first were chiefly of sand, and the third somewhat argillaceous. The former required irrigation, but the other was sufficiently retentive of moisture to render it unnecessary.—(Journ. Asiatic Soc., ii. 435.)
Manures.—The sugar cane being one of the most valued crops of the ryot, he always devotes to it a portion of the fertilising matters he has at command, though in every instance this is too small.
In the Rajahmundry district, previously to planting, the soil is slightly manured, either by having cattle folded upon it, or by a light covering of the rotten straw of the green and black pessalloo, which is here a favourite fertiliser. In some parts of Mysore the mud from the bottom of tanks is employed, and this practice is more generally adopted in other places. Thus the fields being divided by deep ditches in Dinajpoor, the mud from which is enriched by the remains of decayed aquatic plants and animals, forms an excellent manure for the sugar cane, and of this the ryots make use, spreading it over the surface before the ploughing is commenced; and when that operation is completed, the soil is further fertilised by a dressing of oil-cake and ashes.
Crushed bones would unquestionably be of the greatest benefit if applied to the sugar cane crop. Not only would their animal matter serve as food for the plants, but the phosphate of lime of the bones is one of the chief saline constituents of the sugar cane.
Salt is another valuable manure for this crop. Dr. Nugent, in a Report made to the Agricultural Society of Antigua, observes that salt has been found a valuable auxiliary in cultivating the sugar cane. Many trials of it, he says, have been made during successive seasons, applied generally to the extent of about nine or ten bushels per acre. It destroys grubs and other insects, and gives the canes an increased vigor and ability to resist drought. It is a singular remark of the intelligent traveller, M. de Humboldt, while speaking of the practice adopted in the Missions of the Orinoco, when a coco-nut plantation is made, of throwing a certain quantity of salt into the hole which receives the nut; that of all the plants cultivated by man there are only the sugar cane, the plantain, the mammee, and the Avocado pear, which endure equally irrigation with fresh and salt water.
In the West Indies, when the cane is affected by what is called there the blast, which is a withering or drying up of the plants, an unfailing remedy is found to be watering them with an infusion of dung in salt water. Preparation of soil.—In the Rajahmundry district, during the months of April and May, the ground is frequently ploughed, until brought into a very fine tilth. About the end of May, or beginning of June, the rains usually commence, and the canes are then to be planted. If the rains do not set in so early, the land is flooded artificially, and when converted into a soft mud, whether by the rain or by flooding, the canes are planted.
In Mysore the ground is watered for three days, and then, after drying for the same period, ploughing commences, this operation being repeated five times during the following eight days. The clods during this time are broken small by an instrument called colkudali. The field is then manured and ploughed a sixth time. After fifteen days it is ploughed again, twice in the course of one or two days. After a lapse of eight days it is ploughed a ninth time. Altogether these operations occupy about forty-four days.
For planting, which is done six days, an implement called yella kudali is employed.
In Dinajpoor, "the field, from about the middle of October until about the 10th of January, receives ten or twelve double ploughings, and after each is smoothed with the moyi. During the last three months of this time it is manured with cow-dung and mud from ponds and ditches. On this account, the land fit for sugar cane is generally divided into fields by wide ditches, into which much mud is washed by the rain, and is again thrown on the fields when the country dries, and leaves it enriched by innumerable aquatic vegetables and animals that have died as the water left them. When the ploughing has been completed, the field is manured with ashes and oil-cake."
About Malda, "the land is first ploughed in the month of Cartick, length and breadth ways, and harrowed in like manner; four or five days after it is again ploughed and harrowed, as before, twice. In the month of Aghun, the whole land is covered with fresh earth, again twice ploughed, and harrowed in different directions, and then manured with dung. Fifteen or twenty days afterwards it is to be twice ploughed, as before; eight or ten days after which, it is to be slightly manured with dung, and the refuse of oil, mixed together; then twice ploughed and harrowed in different directions, so that the clods of earth brought be well mixed together with the land. This preparation continues until the 20th or 25th of the month Pows."
In the vicinity of Dacca, during "Cautic or Augun (October, November) the Ryots begin to prepare their ground. They first dig a trench round their fields, and raise a mound of about three feet in height. If the ground to be cultivated is waste, about nine inches of the surface are taken off, and thrown without the enclosure. The ground is ploughed to the depth of nine inches more. The clods are broken, and the earth made fine. In Maug or Faugun (January, February) the sugar cane is planted; a month afterwards earth is raised about the plants; after another month this is repeated. The crop is cut in Poous and Maug (December, January). If the ground be not waste, but cultivated, the surface is not taken off. After cutting the crop, it is not usual again to grow sugar cane on the same ground for eighteen months, on account of the indifferent produce afforded by a more early planting.
In the Zillah, North Mooradabad, the land is broken up at the end of June. After the rains have ceased it is manured, and has eight or ten ploughings. This clears it of weeds. In February it is again manured and ploughed four or five times, and just before the sets are planted, some dung, four cart-loads to each cutcha beegah of low land, and five cart-loads to high land, are added. The land is well rolled after the four last ploughings, and again after the cuttings are set.
About Benares and the neighbouring districts, Mr. Haines says, that owing to the hot winds which prevail "from March until the setting in of the annual rains in June or July, the lands remain fallow till that period. In the mean time, those fields that are selected for sugar cane are partially manured by throwing upon them all manner of rubbish they can collect, and by herding their buffaloes and cattle upon them at night, though most of the manure from the latter source is again collected and dried for fuel.
When the annual rains have fairly set in, and the Assarree crops sown (in some instances I have seen an Assarree crop taken from the lands intended for sugar cane), they commence ploughing the cane lands, and continue to do so four or five times monthly (as they consider the greater number of times the fields are turned up at this period of the season, the better the crop of cane will be), till the end of October, continuing to throw on the little manure they can collect.
Towards the end of October, and in November, their ploughs are much engaged in sowing their winter (or rubbee) crops of wheat, barley, grain, &c.; and at this period they make arrangements with the shepherds who have large flocks of sheep, to fold them upon the fields at night, for which they pay so much per beegah in grain.
During the latter part of November, and early in December, the fields are again ploughed well, and all grass, weeds, &c., removed with the hoe; then the surface of the field is made as smooth as possible by putting the hengah (a piece of wood eight to ten feet in length, and five to six inches in breadth, and three or four inches in thickness, drawn by two pairs of bullocks, and the man standing upon the wood to give it weight), over several times for three or four days in succession. This makes the surface of the field very even and somewhat hard, which prevents the sun and dry west wind from abstracting the moisture, which is of great importance at this period of the season, for, should there be no rain, there would not be sufficient moisture at the time of planting the cane to cause vegetation.
In this state the land remains till the time of planting the cane cuttings, which is generally the 1st to the 15th of February; but should there have been a fall of rain in the mean time, or excess of moisture appear, the field is again ploughed, and the hengah put over as before.
A day or two previous to planting the cane, the field is ploughed and the hengah lightly put over."—(Trans. Agri-Hort. Soc. vi. 4, 5.)
Sets.—When the canes are cut at harvest time, twelve or eighteen inches of their tops are usually taken off, and stored, to be employed for sets. Each top has several joints, from each of which a shoot rises, but seldom more than one or two arrive at a proper growth.
When first cut from the stem, the tops intended for plants are tied in bundles of forty or fifty each, and are carefully kept moist. In a few days they put forth new leaves: they are then cleared of the old leaves, and separately dipped into a mixture of cow-dung, pressed mustard seed, and water. A dry spot is prepared, and rich loose mould and a small quantity of pressed mustard-seed; the plants are separately placed therein, a small quantity of earth strewed amongst them, and then covered with leaves and grass to preserve them from heat. Ten or twelve days afterwards they are planted in the fields.
In Burdwan, the tops, before they are planted, are cut into pieces from four to six inches long, so that there are not more than four knots in each. Two or three of these plant tops are put together in the ground, and a beegah requires from 7,500 to 10,240 plants.
In Rungpore and Dinajpoor, about 9,000 plants are required for a beegah, each being about a foot in length.
In Beerbhoom, 3,000 plants are said to be requisite for a beegah, each cane top being about fifteen inches long.
Near Calcutta, from 3,000 to 8,000 plants are required for a beegah, according to the goodness of the soil, the worst soil needing most plants. In Mysore an acre contains 2,420 stools, and yields about 11,000 ripe canes.
Near Rajahmundry, about 400 cuttings are planted on a cutcha beegah (one-eighth of an acre). In Zilla, North Mooradabad, 4,200 sets, each eight inches long, are inserted upon each cutcha beegah of low land, and 5,250 upon high land.
In the district of Gollagore the Ryots cut a ripe cane into several pieces, preserving two or three joints to each, and put them into a small bed of rich mould, dung, and mustard-seed from which the oil has been expressed. At Radnagore, when the time of cutting the canes arrives, their tops are taken off, and these are placed upright in a bed of mud for thirty or forty days, and covered with leaves or straw. The leaves are then stripped from them, and they are cut into pieces, not having less than two nor more than four joints each. These sets are kept for ten or fifteen days in a bed prepared for them, from whence they are taken and planted in rows two or three together, eighteen inches or two feet intervening between each stool.
Planting.—The time and mode of planting vary. In the Rajahmundry Circar, Dr. Roxburgh says, that "during the months of April and May the land is repeatedly ploughed with the common Hindoo plough, which soon brings the loose rich soil (speaking of the Delta of the Godavery) into very excellent order. About the end of May and beginning of June, the rains generally set in, in frequent heavy showers. Now is the time to plant the cane; but should the rains hold back, the prepared field is watered or flooded from the river, and, while perfectly wet, like soft mud, the cane is planted.
"The method is most simple. Laborers with baskets of the cuttings, of one or two joints each, arrange themselves along one side of the field. They walk side by side, in as straight a line as their eye and judgment enable them, dropping the sets at the distance of about eighteen inches asunder in rows, and about four feet from row to row. Other laborers follow, and with the foot press the set about two inches into the soft, mud-like soil, which, with a sweep or two with the sole of the foot, they most easily and readily cover."—(Roxburgh on the Culture of Sugar.)
About Malda, in the month of Maug (January, February), the land is to be twice ploughed, and harrowed repeatedly, length and breadth ways; after which it is furrowed, the furrows half a cubit apart, in which the plants are to be set at about four fingers' distance from each other, when the furrows are filled up with the land that lay upon its ridges. The plants being thus set, the land is harrowed twice in different directions; fifteen or twenty days afterwards the cane begins to grow, when the weeds which appear with it must be taken up; ten or twelve days after this the weeds will again appear. They must again be taken up, and the earth at the roots of the canes be removed, when all the plants which have grown will appear.
At Ghazepore the rains set in at the beginning of March, and planting then commences. Near Calcutta the planting takes place in May and June. In Dinajpoor and Rungpore the planting time is February.
About Commercolly it is performed in January. The field is divided into beds six cubits broad, separated from each other by small trenches fourteen inches wide and eight inches deep. In every second trench are small wells, about two feet deep. The irrigating water flowing along the trenches fills the wells, and is taken thence and applied to the canes by hand.
Each bed has five rows of canes. The sets are planted in holes about six inches in diameter, and three deep; two sets, each having three joints, are laid horizontally in every hole, covered slightly with earth, and over this is a little dung.
When, the canes are planted in the spring, the trenches must be filled with water, and some poured into every hole. At the other season of planting the trenches are full, it being rainy weather; but even then the sets must be watered for the first month.
Mr. Haines says that in Mirzapore and the neighbouring districts, "in planting the cane they commence a furrow round the field, in which they drop the cuttings. The second furrow is left empty; cuttings again in the third; so they continue dropping cuttings in every second furrow till the whole field is completed, finishing in the centre of the field. The field remains in this state till the second or third day, when for two or three days in succession it is made even and hard upon the surface with the hengah, as before stated."—(Trans. Agri-Hort. Soc. vi. 5.)
Mr. Vaupell, in describing the most successful mode of cultivating the Mauritius sugar cane in Bombay, says, that "after the ground is levelled with the small plough, called 'paur,' in the manner of the cultivators, pits of two feet in diameter, and two feet in depth, should be dug throughout the field at the distance of five feet apart, and filled with manure and soil to about three inches of the surface. Set in these pits your canes, cut in pieces about a foot and a half long, laying them down in a triangular from, thus /. Keep as much of the eyes or shoots of the cane uppermost as you can; then cover them with manure and soil; beds should next be formed to retain water, having four pits in each bed, leaving passages for watering them. The cutting should be watered every third day during hot weather, and the field should always be kept in a moist state."—(Ibid. iii. 43.)
About Benares, the sets require, after planting, from four to six waterings, until the rains commence, and as many hoeings to loosen the surface, which becomes caked after every watering. The moister nature of the soil renders these operations generally unnecessary in Bengal.
After-culture.—In Mysore, the surface of the earth in the hollows in which the sets are planted is stirred with a stick as soon as the shoots appear, and a little dung is added. Next month the daily watering is continued, and then the whole field dug over with the hoe, a cavity being made round each stool, and a little dung added. In the third month water is given every second day: at its close, if the canes are luxuriant, the ground is again dug; but if weakly, the watering is continued during the fourth month, before the digging is given. At this time the earth is drawn up about the canes, so as to leave the hollows between the rows at right angles with the trenches. No more water is given to the plants, but the trenches between the beds are kept full for three days. It is then left off for a week, and if rain occurs, no further water is requisite; but if the weather is dry, water is admitted once a week during the next month. The digging is then repeated, and the earth levelled with the hand about the stools.
The stems of each stool are ten or twelve in number, which are reduced to five or six by the most weakly of them being now removed. The healthy canes are to be tied with one of their own leaves, two or three together, to check their spreading; and this binding is repeated as required by their increased growth.
In the absence of rain, the trenches are filled with water once a fortnight.
When the Putta-putti is to be kept for a second crop, the dry leaves cut off in the crop season are burnt upon the field, and this is dug over, and trenches filled with water, and during six weeks the plants watered once in every six or eight days (unless rain falls), and the digging repeated three times, dung being added at each digging. The after-culture is the same as for the first crop.
In the Upper Provinces, Dr. Tennant says, if moderate showers occur after planting, nothing more is done until the shoots from the sets have attained a height of two or three inches. The soil immediately around them is then loosened with a small weeding iron, something like a chisel; but if the season should prove dry, the field is occasionally watered; the weeding is also continued, and the soil occasionally loosened about the plants.
In August, small trenches are cut through the field, with small intervals between them, for the purpose of draining off the water, if the season is too wet. This is very requisite, for if the canes are now supplied with too much moisture, the juice is rendered watery and unprofitable. If the season happens to be dry, the same dikes serve to conduct the irrigating water through the field, and to carry off what does not soak into the earth in a few hours. Stagnant water they consider very injurious to the cane, and on the drains being well contrived depends in a great measure the future hope of profit. Immediately after the field is trenched, the canes are propped. They are now about three feet high, and each set has produced from three to six canes. The lower leaves of each are first carefully wrapt up around it, so as to cover it completely in every part; a small strong bamboo, eight or ten feet long, is then inserted firmly in the middle of each stool, and the canes tied to it. This secures them in an erect position, and facilitates the circulation of the air.
Hoeing cannot be repeated too frequently. This is demonstrated by the practice of the most successful cultivators. In Zilla, N. Mooradabad, in April, about six weeks after planting, the earth on each side of the cane-rows is loosened by a sharp-pointed hoe, shaped somewhat like a bricklayer's trowel. This is repeated six times before the field is laid out in beds and channels for irrigation. There, likewise, if the season is unusually dry, the fields in the low ground are watered in May and June. This supposes there are either nullahs, or ancient pucka wells, otherwise the canes are allowed to take their chance, for the cost of making a well on the uplands is from ten to twenty rupees—an expense too heavy for an individual cultivator, and not many would dig in partnership, for they would fight for the water.
In the vicinity of Benares, as the canes advance in growth, they continue to wrap the leaves as they begin to wither up round the advancing stem, and to tie this to the bamboo higher up. If the weather continue wet, the trenches are carefully kept open; and, on the other hand, if dry weather occurs, water is occasionally supplied. Hoeing is also performed every five or six weeks. Wrapping the leaves around the cane is found to prevent them cracking by the heat of the sun, and hinders their throwing out lateral branches.
In January and February the canes are ready for cutting. The average height of the cane is about nine feet, foliage included, and the naked cane from one inch to one inch and a quarter in diameter.
Near Maduna, the hand-watering is facilitated by cutting a small trench down the centre of each bed. The beds are there a cubit wide, but only four rows of canes are planted in each.
It is deserving of notice, that the eastern and north-eastern parts of Bengal are more subject to rain at every season of the year, but especially in the hot months, than the western; which accounts for the land being prepared and the plants set so much earlier in Rungpore than in Beerbhoom. This latter country has also a dryer soil generally; for this reason, so much is said in the report from thence of the necessity of watering.
The Benares country is also dryer than Bengal, therefore more waterings are requisite.
At Malda, ten or fifteen days after the earth has been removed from the roots of the canes and the plants have appeared, the land is to be slightly manured, well cleared of weeds, and the earth that was removed again laid about the canes; after which, ten or fifteen days, it must be well weeded, and again twenty or twenty-five days afterwards. This mode of cultivation it is necessary to follow until the month of Joystee. The land must be ploughed and manured between the rows of canes in the month of Assaar; after which, fifteen or twenty days, the canes are to be tied two or three together with the leaves, the earth about them well cleaned, and the earth that was ploughed up laid about the roots of the canes something raised. In the month of Saubun, twenty or twenty-five days from the preceding operation, the canes are tied as before, and again ten or fifteen days afterwards; which done, nine or ten clumps are then to be tied together.
In the Rojahmundry Circar, on the Delta of the Godavery, Dr. Roxburgh states, "that nothing more is done after the cane is planted, if the weather be moderately showery, till the young shoots are some two or three inches high; the earth is then loosened for a few inches round them with the weeding iron. Should the season prove dry, the field is occasionally watered from the river, continuing to weed and to keep the ground loose round the stools. In August, two or three months from the time of planting, small trenches are cut through the field at short distances, and so contrived as to serve to drain off the water, should the season prove too wet for the canes, which is often the case, and would render their juices weak and unprofitable. The farmer, therefore, never fails to have his field plentifully and judiciously intersected with drains while the cane is small, and before the usual time for the violent rains. Immediately after the field is trenched, the canes are all propped; this is an operation which seems peculiar to these parts.
In Dinajpoor, in about a month after planting, "the young plants are two or three inches high; the earth is then raised from the cuttings by means of a spade, and the dry leaves by which they are surrounded are removed. For a day or two they remain exposed to the air, and are then manured with ashes and oil-cake, and covered with earth. Weeds must be removed as they spring; and when the plants are about a cubit high, the field must be ploughed. When they have grown a cubit higher, which is between the 13th of June and 14th of July, they are tied together in bundles of three or four, by wrapping them round with their own leaves. This is done partly to prevent them from being laid down by the wind, and partly to prevent them from being eaten by jackals. During the next month three or four of these bunches are tied together; and about the end of September, when the canes grow rank, they are supported by bamboo stakes driven in the ground. They are cut between the middle of December and the end of March."
If the canes grow too vigorously, developing a superabundance of leaves, it is a good practice to remove those leaves which are decayed, that the stems may be exposed fully to the sun. In the West Indies, this is called trashing the canes. It requires discretion; for in dry soils or seasons, or if the leaves are removed before sufficiently dead, more injury than benefit will be occasioned.
Harvesting.—The season in which the canes become ripe in various districts has already been noticed when considering their cultivation. In addition I may state, that in the Rajahmundry Circar, about the mouth of the Godavery, Dr. Roxburgh adds, "that in January and February the canes begin to be ready to cut, which is about nine months from the time of planting. This operation is the same as in other sugar countries—of course I need not describe it. Their height, when standing on the field, will be from eight to ten feet (foliage included), and the naked cane from an inch to an inch and a quarter in diameter."
In Malda, the canes are cut in January and February. In N. Mooradabad, upon the low land, the canes are ripe in October, and upon the high lands a month later. The fitness of the cane for cutting may be ascertained by making an incision across the cane, and observing the internal grain. If it is soft and moist, like a turnip, it is not yet ripe; but if the face of the cut is dry, and white particles appear, it is fit for harvesting.—(Fitzmaurice on the Culture of the Sugar Cane.)
Injuries.—1. A wet season, either during the very early or in the concluding period of the cane's vegetation, is one of the worst causes of injury. In such a season, the absence of the usual intensity of light and heat causes the sap to be very materially deficient in saccharine matter. But, on the other hand,
2. A very dry season, immediately after the sets are planted, though the want of rain may in some degree be supplied by artificial means, causes the produce to be but indifferent. These inconveniences are of a general nature, and irremediable.
3. Animals.—In India not only the incursions of domesticated animals, but in some districts of the wild elephant, buffalo, and hog, are frequent sources of injury. Almost every plantation is liable, also, to the attack of the jackal, and rats are destructive enemies.
4. White Ants.—The sets of the sugar cane have to be carefully watched, to preserve them from the white ant (Termes fatalis), to attacks from which they are liable until they have begun to shoot. To prevent this injury, the following mixture has been recommended:—
Asafoetida (hing), 8 chittacks. Mustard-seed cake (sarsum ki khalli), 8 seers. Putrid fish, 4 seers. Bruised butch root, 2 seers; or muddur, 2 seers.
Mix the above together in a large vessel, with water sufficient to make them into the thickness of curds; then steep each slip of cane in it for half an hour after planting; and, lastly, water the lines three times previous to setting the cane, by irrigating the water-course with water mixed up with bruised butch root, or muddur if the former be not procurable. A very effectual mode of destroying the white ant, is by mixing a small quantity of arsenic with a few ounces of burned bread, pulverised flour, or oatmeal, moistened with molasses, and placing pieces of the dough thus made, each about the size of a turkey's egg, on a flat board, and covered over with a wooden bowl, in several parts of the plantation. The ants soon take possession of these, and the poison has a continuous effect, for the ants which die are eaten by those which succeed them. They are said to be driven from a soil by frequently hoeing it. They are found to prevail most upon newly broken-up lands.
In Central India, the penetration of the white ants into the interior of the sets, and the consequent destruction of the latter, is prevented by dipping each end into buttermilk, asafoetida, and powdered mustard-seed, mixed into a thick compound.
5. Storms.—Unless they are very violent, Dr. Roxburgh observes, "they do no great harm, because the canes are propped. However, if they are once laid down, which sometimes happens, they become branchy and thin, yielding a poor, watery juice."
6. The Worm "is another evil, which generally visits them every few years. A beetle deposits its eggs in the young canes; the caterpillars of these remain in the cane, living on its medullary parts, till they are ready to be metamorphosed into the chrysalis state. Sometimes this evil is so great as to injure a sixth or an eighth part of the field; but, what is worse, the disease is commonly general when it happens—few fields escaping."
7. The Flowering "is the last accident they reckon upon, although it scarce deserves the name, for it rarely happens, and never but to a very small proportion of some few fields. Those canes that flower have very little juice left, and it is by no means so sweet as that of the rest."
In the Brazils, the fact of the slave trade being at an end must influence the future produce of sugar, and attention has been lately chiefly directed to coffee, cotton, and other staples. The exports of that empire in 1842, were 59,000 tons; in 1843, 54,500; in 1844, 76,400; in 1845, 91,000; average of these four years 69,720. The exports in the next four years averaged 96,150 tons, viz:—76,100, in 1846; 96,300, in 1847; 112,500, in 1848; and 99,700, in 1849.
Mode of Cultivation in Brazil.—The lands in Brazil are never grubbed up, either for planting the sugar cane, or for any other agricultural purposes. The inconveniences of this custom are perceivable more particularly in high lands; because all of these that are of any value are naturally covered with thick woods. The cane is planted amongst the numerous stumps of trees, by which means much ground is lost, and as the sprouts from these stumps almost immediately spring forth (such is the rapidity of vegetation) the cleanings are rendered very laborious. These shoots require to be cut down sometimes, even before the cane has found its way to the surface of the ground. The labor likewise is great every time a piece of land is to be put under cultivation, for the wood must be cut down afresh; and although it cannot have reached the same size which the original timber had attained, still as several years are allowed to pass between each period at which the ground is planted, the trees are generally of considerable thickness. The wood is suffered to remain upon the land until the leaves become dry; then it is set on fire, and these are destroyed with the brush wood and the smaller branches of the trees. Heaps are now made of the remaining timber, which is likewise burnt. This process is universally practised in preparing land for the cultivation of any plant. I have often heard the method much censured as being injurious in the main to the soil, though the crop immediately succeeding the operation may be rendered more luxuriant by it. I have observed that the canes which grew upon the spots where the heaps of timber and large branches of trees had been burnt, were of a darker and richer green than those around them, and that they likewise over-topped them. After the plant-canes, or those of the first year's growth, are taken from the lands, the field-trash, that is the dried leaves and stems of the canes which remain upon the ground, are set fire to, with the idea that the ratoons,—that is, the sprouts from the old roots of the canes,—spring forth with more luxuriance, and attain a greater size by means of this practice. The ratoons of the first year are called in Brazil, socas; those of the second year, resocas; those of the third year, terceiras socas, and so forth. After the roots are left unencumbered by burning the field-trash, the mould is raised round about them; indeed, if this was neglected, many of those roots would remain too much exposed to the heat of the sun, and would not continue to vegetate.
Some lands will continue to give ratoons for five, or even seven years; but an average may be made at one crop of good ratoons fit for grinding, another of inferior ratoons fit for planting, or for making molasses to be used in the still-house, and a third which affords but a trifling profit, in return for the trouble which the cleanings give.
I have above spoken more particularly of high lands. The low and marshy grounds, called in Brazil, varzeas, are, however, those which are the best adapted to the cane; and, indeed, upon the plantations that do not possess some portions of this description of soil the crops are very unequal, and sometimes almost entirely fail, according to the greater or less quantity of rain, which may chance to fall in the course of the year. The varzeas are usually covered with short and close brushwood, and as these admit, from their rank nature, of frequent cultivation, they soon become easy to work. The soil of these, when it is new, receives the name of paul; it trembles under the pressure of the feet, and easily admits of a pointed stick being thrust into it; and though dry to appearance requires draining. The macape marl is often to be met with in all situations; it is of a greenish white color, and if at all wet, it sticks very much to the hoe; it becomes soon dry at the surface, but the canes which have been planted upon it seldom fail to revive after rain, even though a want of it should have been much felt. The white marl, barro branco, is less frequently found; it is accounted extremely productive. This clay is used in making bricks and coarse earthenware, and also for claying the sugar. Red earth is occasionally met with upon sides of hills near to the coast; but this description of soil belongs properly to the cotton districts. Black mould is common, and likewise a loose brownish soil, in which a less or greater proportion of sand is intermixed. It is, I believe, generally acknowledged that no land can be too rich for the growth of the sugar cane. One disadvantage, however, attends soil that is low and quite new, which is, that the canes run up to a great height without sufficient thickness, and are thus often lodged (or blown down) before the season for cutting them arrives. I have seen rice planted upon lands of this kind on the first year to decrease their rankness, and render them better adapted to the cane on the succeeding season. Some attempts have been made to plant cane upon the lands which reach down to the edge of the mangroves, and in a few instances pieces of land heretofore covered by the salt water at the flow of the tide, have been laid dry by means of draining for the same purpose; but the desired success has not attended the plan, for the canes have been found to be unfit for making sugar; the syrup does not coagulate, or at least does not attain that consistence which is requisite, and therefore it can only be used for the distilleries.
The general mode of preparing the land for the cane is by holing it with hoes. The negroes stand in a row, and each man strikes his hoe into the ground immediately before him, and forms a trench of five or six inches in depth; he then falls back, the whole row doing the same, and they continue this operation from one side of the cleared land to the other, or from the top of a hill to the bottom. The earth which is thrown out of the trench remains on the lower side of it. In the British West India colonies this work is done in a manner nearly similar, but more systematically. The lands in Brazil are not measured, and everything is done by the eye. The quantity of cane which a piece will require for planting is estimated by so many cart-loads; and nothing can be more vague than this mode of computation, for the load which a cart can carry depends upon the condition of the oxen, upon the nature of the road, and upon the length of the cane. Such is the awkward make of these vehicles, that much nicety is necessary in packing them, and if two canes will about fit into a cart lengthways, much more will be conveyed than if the canes are longer and they double over each other.
The plough is sometimes used in low lands, upon which draining has not been found necessary; but such is the clumsy construction of the machine of which they make use, that six oxen are yoked to it. A plough drawn by two oxen, constructed after a model which was brought from Cayenne, has been introduced in one or two instances. Upon high lands the stumps of the trees almost preclude the possibility of thus relieving the laborers. The trenches being prepared, the cuttings are laid longitudinally in the bottom of them, and are covered with the greatest part of the mould which had been taken out of the trench. The shoots begin to rise above the surface of the ground in the course of twelve or fourteen days. The canes undergo three cleanings from the weeds and the sprouts proceeding from the stumps of the trees; and when the land is poor, and produces a greater quantity of the former, and contains fewer of the latter, the canes require to be cleaned a fourth time. The cuttings are usually 12 to 18 inches in length, but it is judged that the shorter they are the better. If they are short, and one piece of cane rots, the space which remains vacant is not so large as when the cuttings are long, and they by any accident fail. The canes which are used for planting are generally ratoons, if any exist upon the plantation; but if there are none of these, the inferior plant canes supply their places. It is accounted more economical to make use of the ratoons for this purpose; and many persons say that they are less liable to rot than the plant canes. In the British sugar islands the cuttings for planting are commonly the tops of the canes which have been ground for sugar. But in Brazil the tops of the canes are all thrown to the cattle, for there is usually a want of grass during the season that the mills are at work. In the British colonies, the canes are at first covered with only a small portion of mould, and yet they are as long in forcing their way to the surface as in Brazil, though in the latter a more considerable quantity of earth is laid upon them. I suppose that the superior richness of the Brazilian soil accounts for this. Upon rich soils the cuttings are laid at a greater distance, and the trenches are dug farther from each other, than upon those which have undergone more frequent cultivation, or which are known to possess less power from their natural composition. The canes which are planted upon the former throw out great numbers of sprouts, which spread each way; and, although when they are young, the land may appear to promise but a scanty crop, they soon close, and no opening is to be seen. It is often judged proper to thin the canes, by removing some of the suckers at the time that the last cleaning is given; and some persons recommend that a portion of the dry leaves should also be stripped off at the same period, but on other plantations this is not practised.
The proper season for planting is from the middle of July to the middle of September, upon high lands, and from September to the middle of November in low lands. Occasionally, the great moisture of the soil induces the planter to continue his work until the beginning of December, if his people are sufficiently numerous to answer all the necessary purposes. The first of the canes are ready to be cut for the mill in September of the following year, and the crop is finished usually in January or February. In the British sugar islands the canes are planted from August to November, and are ripe for the mill in the beginning of the second year. Thus this plant in Brazil requires from thirteen to fifteen months to attain its proper state for the mill; and in the West India islands it remains standing sixteen or seventeen months.