The information below is from "Georgia, Historical and Industrial" ©1901
Sugar-Cane.—Sugar-cane yields a handsome profit. A steadily increasing demand for sugar and molasses in the United State makes it certain that there will always be a ready sale for the product of the sugar-cane. Over large areas of the United States sugar and various syrups are being extracted from the beet cultivated for that purpose. But no other known plant equals the sugar or ribbon-cane in its capacity for supplying those two articles of universal consumption. When we consider that from 1880 to 1895 the United States produced only onetenth of the sugar consumed in this country, and paid out $1,500,000,000 for imported sugar, it can be readily seen that there is no immediate danger of overstocking the market. The 20,000 acres in Georgia devoted to the sugar-cane in 1890 produced 1,307,625 pounds of sugar and 3,223,194 gallons of molasses. Some of the best yields were: 700 gallons of syrup to the acre in Bulloch county; 695 gallons in Thomas county; 600 gallons in Brooks county, and 480 gallons in Burke county. Of these counties Burke and Bulloch are in the northern part of the Southern Georgia belt, while Brooks and Thomas are in the extreme south on the Florida line. In Rockdale county in Middle Georgia 600 gallons of cane syrup were the product of one acre of the farm of Hon. W. L. Peek. The growing of sugar-cane and manufacture of syrup in South. Georgia has doubled in two years. Twenty-five thousand barrels of syrup have been sold in one year from a small section of the extreme southern part of Georgia. In the fall of 1899 a gentleman in Tennessee sold 150 barrels of Georgia syrup in six days. A great deal of it has been sold to people in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Boston, who, after mixing it with glucose, put the blended article upon the market as Georgia White Syrup.
The planters are finding out every year that no country on the face of the globe can make as good syrup as Southwest Georgia, and are increasing their acreage. Before many years this industry will equal that of cotton. Pittsburg, Pa., is getting to be a strong market for Georgia syrup. The present estimate is that the sales of Georgia syrup in Pittsburg for the year will amount to 10,000 barrels. A sample of Georgia cane tested by Professor Wm. C. Stubbs of New Orleans, in 1899 showed 16£ per cent, sugar content and not quite one per cent, glucose, with a purity coefficient of nearly 90 per cent. Another sample contained 13J per cent, sucrose (cane sugar), and only 1 and four one-hundredths per cent, of glucose, with a purity coefficient of 81 per cent. This means more than 12 per cent, of sugar available in ordinary mills, and upon a 75 per cent, extraction would be equivalent to 180 pounds of C. P. sugar to the ton of cane, or nearly 200 pounds of commercial sugar as usually made in Louisiana sugar-houses from firsts, seconds and thirds. The better grade of lands with ordinary cultivation and fertilization will yield from twenty to twenty-five tons to the acre, and the same land under the best methods will yield from thirty-five to forty tons to the acre.
Professor Stubbs, already mentioned, is authority for the statement that the price per ton of sugar-cane in Louisiana will average about 80 cents for each cent that prime yellow clarified sugar is worth on the New Orleans market.
Hence, if prime yellow clarified sugar is worth five cents a pound, the price for a ton of cane will be five times eighty cents, or four dollars a ton.
The number of gallons of syrup that can be obtained from a ton of Louisiana cane will depend entirely upon the extraction of the mill and density of juice. A mill getting as high as 75 per cent, extraction, or fifteen hundred pounds of juice to a ton of cane, will give from twentyfive to thirty-five gallons of syrup cooked to a density of 34 degrees Baume. The variation is due to the "total solids" contained in the cane juice. The same statement will apply to Georgia cane.
A complete plant for making syrup can be obtained at several places in the United States. But probably the most improved machinery can be better obtained in New Orleans, where every manufacturer is familiar with its practical use. For an up-to-date factory there is needed a first-class mill with filter presses, clarifiers and evaporators. There are also needed settling tanks, juice tanks and syrup tanks.
Any one who contemplatee embarking in the business of syrup-making, should study the question of sterilization of syrup, which can now be easily dona The syrup, after being sterilized, must be put into sterilized vessels, where it will keep indefinitely, if the work has been well performed.
Soils adapted to cane are those naturally rich and fertile, though upon soils of very moderate fertility, well prepared and fertilized, remunerative crops can be grown. In cane culture climate, rainfall and manures are more important factors than soils. In sandy soils without manures the cane is small. Calcareous soils develop a superior cane, rich in saccharine matter. On rich alluvial soils, not properly drained, the canes are poor in sugar produce, and though they yield a large quantity of syrup, it is not a first-class article.
As to whether the entire cane should be planted or only that portion which is the least fitted for making sugar Dr. W. C. Stubbs of Louisiana says: "It can be positively asserted that the upper third of our canes can be profitably used for planting our crop, and we can send the lower two thirds of our entire crop to the sugar-house, thus increasing largely our sugar yields and diminishing our heavy outlay annually for seed."
Before planting all soils should be well-prepared, properly fertilized, and perfectly drained. It is best to break or flush the land, then bed into rows from five to six feet wide; then open the bed and in this furrow plant the cane. The part of the stalk selected for seed should be deposited in an open furrow and well covered. In the fall this covering should be several inches thick. Remove the extra soil in early spring to secure early germination. The cultivation best for corn land is generally good for sugar-cane. Let there be thorough and deep preparation of the soil; then cultivate rapidly and as shallow as the soil will permit, and "lay by" when canes shade the ground.
The fertilizers for cane should contain enough nitrogenous matter to insure a large growth by September 1st Phosphoric acid is very beneficial to cane. Potash may be demanded upon light sandy soils. Experiments have shown that the limits of prifit in the use of fertilizers are between forty and fifty pounds of nitrogen obtained from cottonseed-meal, and from forty to eighty pounds of phosphoric acid.
If under favorable conditions the above formula is used on our best cane lands in South Georgia, we should obtain from twenty to thirty tons of cane to the acre.
It should be remembered that Georgia was the original cane-growing State of the Union. In 1825 she gave to Louisiana the seed of the ribbon-cane, thus bequeathing to that State a mine of wealth. And now the genial soil of Southern and Middle Georgia offers this same source of wealth to her own people or to the stranger seeking a home within her gates.
The establishing of sugar refineries will greatly promote the interests of the cane growers. There will be no scarcity of capital for such enterprises if sufficient quantities of cane are grown. We predict for the near future the establishment of a number of sugar refineries in South Georgia.
Syrup-making in Georgia commences about the last of October or the first of November, and continues until Christmas. At this season the traveler journeying on a country road will see on almost every farm the smoke issuing from the syrup furnace, an invitation to either neighbor or stranger to enter the home and share the hospitalities to which every one is made to feel welcome in cane-grinding time. Here youths and maidens, with those of riper years, engage in the sports of the holiday season, or seated near the cheerful fire regale themselves with the healthful and delightful beverage extracted from the sugar-cane. At this season of cane-grinding and syrup-making, the sick and feeble recuperate and often find their health again. The negroes, too, both young and old, have their part in the good cheer, and even the stock upon the farm share in the general glee.
The stalks of the cane shredded are worth more as forage than cornstalk or cottonseed-hulls. •
The little, old-time sugar mill on each man's farm ought, in this progressive day, to give place to well equipped, up-to-date syrup mills and sugar refineries. This would transfer the syrup-boiling and sugar-making to the mill, just as cotton is taken to the factory, and not spun upon each farm.
If the most improved methods are used, the cost of extracting the juice from the stalks and converting it into syrup is a mere fraction of a cent per gallon.
It has been estimated that the average farmer can count on getting $120 gross to the acre for syrup, at a general average product of 600 gallons to the acre.
In 1890 the area devoted to sugar-cane in Georgia was 20,238 acres, which produced 1,307,625 pounds of sugar and 3,223,194 gallons of molasses.
In 1890 the area devoted to sorghum in Georgia was 22,089 acres, which produced 1,342,803 gallons of molasses.
Recent experiments go to prove that cassava will make a profitable I crop for South Georgia. The species of this plant recommended for Georgia, is the sweet cassava, which does not, like the bitter cassava, require boiling to drive out poisonous juices, but can be fed to stock in its natural state without risk of harm. It also makes a very paltable table vegetable. But its chief excellence consists in the fact that it yields abundance of the best starch. One acre of South Georgia land planted in sweet cassava will yield 4,000 pounds of starch, while the best corn or potato lands in Illinois or Michigan can produce only 1,200 pounds of starch from these vegetables.
Cassava is easily propagated by cuttings of the stem and grows rapidly, attaining maturity in six months. The production is at least sixteen times that of wheat.
When the farmers of South Georgia become thoroughly convinced of its worth and embark extensively in its cultivation, starch factories will be started on every hand. It has been estimated that these will pay five dollars a ton on the cars, at any station within one hundred miles of their factory.
With sugar-cane and sugar refineries, cassava and starch factories, South Georgia possesses grand opportunities for profitable farming.