This article was published before in the "Hortus Magazine"
of the "Botanical Garden of Amsterdam"
by Fred Triep
has been known since antiquity and was probably originally from New
Guinea. Persians, Arabs and Crusaders spread it all over the world.
Sugar was long one of the main export products of the Dutch East
had in the nineteenth century hundreds of sugar cane refinery particles, which
went up in 1882 in the WSR, the “Wester Suiker Raffinaderij”. This was at the
Van Noordt Kade, near the IJ in Amsterdam. The factory was closed in 1965
because the production of sugar from sugar beet had become cheaper than those
from sugar cane. My childhood is linked to this plant, because my father worked
there all his life, until the closing of the factory. The Dutch were already
in the sixteenth century engaged in the cultivation of sugar cane and the
marketing of sugar, which was cultivated in the Indian archipelago. Sugar was
one of the products (in addition to indigo, coffee, tea and tobacco) from the
culture system, which was introduced in 1830: the native population had to use
twenty percent of the land for government products. The “Nederlandse Handels
Maatschappij” (NHM) has been made for the transportation and sale of the sugar
cane. After 1870 the sugar cane culture was privatized. In the early twentieth
century, Java was after Cuba the largest
sugar producer in the world.
sugar beet the sugar cane is the main supplier of sugar in the world. Sixty
percent of the world production of table sugar (sucrose) comes from sugar cane.
It is also the oldest known supplier, the beet was taken later in production.
Sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum) is
one of the four species of the genus
Saccharum that can deliver sugar. To the genus
Saccharum belong approximately thirty-seven plantspecies. Sugarcane is one
of the eight hundred species from the Grass Family (Poaceae).
The grasses arised about 55 million years ago and have enabled the life of the
large ungulates and the spread of modern humans (rice, wheat, corn, rye, oats).
Like other grasses sugarcane is pollinated by the wind. The noble sugarcane
is a collection of plant varieties which originate from the wild grass
Saccharum robustum and possibly two
other species, namely Saccharum spontaneum
and Saccharum sinense. The species
S. robustum is native to the area of
Borneo through New Guinea to the archipelago New Hebrides. The noble cane
S. officinarum has shorter and thicker
stems than the original S. robustum
and contains significantly more sucrose in the marrow. Sugarcane is a grass
that can be three to six meter tall, with stems from two to four and a half cm
thick. The up to six inches wide leaves can be seventy to one hundred and fifty
cm long. The inflorescence is a large plume, but the cultivated sugarcane does
not always seem to bloom. Now sugarcane grows, thanks to the spread by humans
in South-West Europe, Africa, temperate to tropical Asia, Australia, in areas in
the South Pacific, the southeastern US, Mexico and South America
Alexander the Great
could use sugar cane, he used honey as a sweetener.Sugarcane
is known from ancient times and is probably native to New Guinea. There one
chewed on the stems over eight thousand years ago. Probably sugarcane has been
spread from about the year 1000 BC through the Philippines and Indonesia to
India and China. The Hindus were the first to crush the stems and let evaporate
the juice to a brown substance, which they called sarkara. From that name the
word sugar has been derived.
The Crusaders took sugarcane to Europe, where it was long considered as
Through the Persians and the campaigns of
Alexander the Great sugarcane came to the Mediterranean, after which it was
further spread by the Arabs. The Crusaders took it to Europe, where it was for a
long time a scarce resource, which was regarded as a medicine. The species
designation officinarum recalls the use of pharmacists sugar. Sugarcane was then
also planted in subtropical regions around the Mediterranean. Only after
Columbus had brought the sugar cane culture to the West Indies, sugar was
produced and used in increasing quantities. Sugar cane was previously planted
by hand: stems of about fifty cm in length were put into a hole in the ground
and covered with sand. The labor-intensive sugar cane culture in South- and
North America have been strongly linked to slavery. Now a planting machine makes
in a single movement a hole in the ground, inserts the stem, adds fertilizers
and insecticides and covers the whole with the basis.
the past the stems used to cut by hand, now sugar cane are now increasingly
being harvested mechanically. From all
the plants crops sugarcane appeared to deliver the largest amount of calories
per surface land. In the sugar factory, the juice is pressed out, and
thereafter the sugar crystallized. For this purpose, the squeezed sugar cane
juice refined: cooking with clean water and again evaporated. The thick,
viscous sap which remains after the refining is called molasse and it is the
base for syrups and for the fermentation industry, inter alia for the production
of citric acid, lysine, and bio-ethanol / biobutanol. Through the distillation
of fermented molasse spirits like rum, grogue (Cape Verde Islands), cachaça
(Brazil) and arak (Indonesia) are made.
The fibrous material remaining after squeezing out the juice is called bagasse.
This is used for papermaking and as fuel for the refining process. The pith of
the stems is used as cattle feed. In Brazil, now the biggest sugar cane
producer in the world, now a large part of the sugar cane juice is fermented to
alcohol, which can be admixed at car gasoline.
In the Botanical garden of
Amsterdam the sugarcane can be found in the Educational greenhouse.