Characteristics of mineral nutrition


General information

1. Nitrogen

2. Phosphorus

3. Potassium

General information

  • During vegetation the sugarcane consumes many nutrients.
  • Where yields of 100 ton per hectare are received:


Yields of 100 ton per hectare




120 kg

70 kg

200 kg.


  • For every ton of stems , the average amount of elements removed is :


Every ton of stems




0.7-1.5 kg

0.4-1.0 kg

1-3 kg.


  • During ripening the percentage of nitrogen and ash substances in the vegetative organs of sugarcane plants declined.
  • By harvest time the content of major nutrients in commercial stems of sugarcane is as follows (in %)


Commercial stems




0.1 %

0.3 %

1.4 %


  • The upper part of the runner is rich in nitrogen and ash substances.
    • The most active uptake of nutrients is observed during the early stage of the sugarcane plant, during tillering (from the third to the sixth months after planting).

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     1.   Nitrogen


-Deficiency of nitrogen 

  •  When there is a deficiency of nitrogen, particularly during the first half of vegetation , the leaves change their color from pale-green to yellow-green and later on they become violet-red and rapidly dry
  • Thus the sugarcane yield considerably diminishes.

               -Excess in nitrogen

  • Tillering increases
  • The leaves grow in size
  • The period of tillering lengthens.
  • The old and the youngest runners quickly die off.


  • To a certain extent, a shortage of nitrogen at the end of vegetation, due to which the plant growth retarded and sugar content in the stems increased, is favourable.
  • During tillering, when new runners are formed, nitrogen uptake reaches a maximum.
  • After the rows contact (sixth-seventh months of vegetation) the plants accumulate up to 50% of total nitrogen consumed during vegetation.
  • Also, during last period, the tillering of sugarcane is delayed and nitrogen uptake is stabilized.
  • In the first half of vegetation  (up to sixth month) nitrogen chiefly accumulates in the leaves and internodes of sugarcane stems.

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        2.     Phosphorus


  • Phosphorus in the sugarcane plants is found in the mineral form (calcium, magnesium, potassium salts) and organic compounds (phosphatides, nucleoproteins, nucleic acids).
  • Compounds of phosphorus and sugar are easily transported in plants, and take part in various biochemical processes.

  -Deficiency of Phosphorus

      With acute phosphorus deficit

  • The old leaves of sugarcane become grayish-green
  • And the young ones become darker.
  • A lack of phosphorus during the early vegetation period when the root system is formed cannot be compensated by phosphorus fertilization later.


  • Phosphorus uptake in the sugar plant is more evenly-distributed and more time-lengthy as compared with nitrogen uptake.
  • During the vegetation of sugarcane accumulation phosphorus is as follow:



% Total accumulation phosphorus

During the first months of vegetation

Up to 27 %

In the next three to six months

Up to 50 %

In nine months

 72 %

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       4. Potassium


               -Deficiency of Potassium

      Potassium starvation of sugarcane plants becomes evident in the early age of the plant (the second-third months of vegetation)

  • The stems get thinner,
  • The leaf margins become yellow and then completely white
  •  Red spots appear in the center of the leaf blade.
  •  Potassium deficit is most frequently observed
  • On light-textured sandy loams
  • and on strongly carboniferous soils.


  • The maximum amount of potassium is absorbed in the first six months of vegetation and before harvesting.

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