Cold-resistant sugar cane plants: Can sugar cane be grown in winter?

Sugar cane is an incredibly useful crop. Native to tropical and subtropical climates, it generally fails to adapt to cold temperatures. So what should a gardener do when he wants to grow sugar cane in temperate zones? Is there a way to avoid it? What about sugar cane for cold climates? Read on to learn more about selecting low-temperature sugarcane varieties and growing cold-resistant sugarcane.

Can sugar cane be grown in winter?

Sugar cane is the common name for the genus Saccharum which grows almost entirely in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. In general, sugar cane does not tolerate freezing temperatures, even the coldest. However, there is a variety of cold-resistant sugar cane called Saccharum arundinaceum or cold-resistant cane.

This variety has been reported to be cold-resistant up to USDA zone 6a. It is grown as an ornamental grass and is not harvested for its canes like other species of the genus.

Other cold weather sugar canes

Although it is possible to grow commercial sugar cane in the southernmost regions of Spain, scientists are working hard to develop varieties capable of surviving in colder climates and shorter growing seasons, in the hope of expanding production further north.

The crossing of sugarcane species ( Saccharum ) with Miscanthus species, an ornamental grass much more resistant to cold, was successful. These hybrids, known as Miscanos, are very promising with two different aspects of cold tolerance.

Firstly, they are able to withstand much lower temperatures without frost damage. Second, and equally important, they continue to grow and photosynthesize at much lower temperatures than traditional canes. This greatly lengthens their productive growing season, even in climates where they must be grown as annuals.

The development of cold-resistant sugarcane is a hot topic at the moment, and we can expect great changes in the coming years.

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