‘Si Samrong 1’: New & Worthy Alternative Cane for Thai Farmers and Health Drink Market

Sugar cane, or cane in short, is a major economic crop of Thailand. Thanks to its economic worth of over 100,000 million Baht, cane is useful is various aspects. However, due to current unstable climate in the country, long-time cane plantation in the same area and a lot of diseases result in local Thai farmers’ income shortage. Consequently, ‘Si Samrong 1’ cane is an interesting alternative for local farmers right now. Besides, planting cane for sugar mills, on-line media encourages farmers to sell the crop for juice extraction because income for the latter is as high as 55,410-92,350 Baht, an equivalent to 5,647 liters per a Rai land of cane or 40-50 Baht of cane juice per liter.

Cane juice extraction is an interesting and quickly expanding industry since Thai people are increasingly favoring fresh cane juice. Undeniably, fresh cane juice is sold almost everywhere to serve the needs of consumers, thus enabling Thai farmers to earn income daily. Also, selling cane juice makes more money than sending cane to factories because the former’s income is 3-4 times more than the latter’s. Such business is moving forward in terms of farmers and consumers. ‘Si Samrong 1’, under the research of Raweewan Chuakittisak, an Agricultural Research Officer Senior Professional Level of Khon Kaen Field Crops Research Center and Field and Renewable Energy Crops Research Institute (FCRI), is now becoming an important alternative for cane juice extraction.

Raweewan Chuakittisak, an Agricultural Research Officer Senior Professional Level of Khon Kaen Field Crops Research Center and Field and Renewable Energy Crops Research Institute (FCRI)
Mr. Raweewan are discussing with the former director general of Department of Agriculture, Suwit Chaikiattiyos, and Nirun Sookjan, The former director Office of Agricultural Research and Development Region 3 during plan an event of Pre Congress Tour 2016 (29th ISSCT 2016 Thailand).

The Dawn of Si Samrong

According to Raweewan, research on Si Samrong 1started on 2000 where pollination at Suphan buri Field Crops Research Center. Seedlings selection and evaluation on preliminary trail and standard trail at Sukhothai Agricultural and Development Center, the former name of which was Si Samrong Field Crops Experimental Station. A new breed of sugar cane which passed the selection was entitled Si Samrong 1 following a district in Sukhothai, where the center is located.

Si Samrong 1 was then farm trail in Lower-Northern, Central and East region and evaluate farmers accepted from 2002 to 2019. During the period, the researcher found that the crop could be extracted to make some juice. She noticed that the yellow green color of the stalk of Si Samrong 1 resembled the Suphan Buri 50’s, but the former provided more juice and higher percentage of extraction than the latter. Moreover, Si Samrong 1 juice is sweet, although lower than Suphanburi 50’s. The Suphanburi 50’s juice does not change its color and does not precipitate even when we leave it in room temperature for up to 4 hours.

Land should be a good management, which can produced whole a year. Sugarcane juice of this type is derived from open breeding of RT96-018 or KWT07 canes. It has erect stool growth habit, erect leaf shape, curved tip, very sloping narrow triangular-ligulae dewlap, yellow green dewlap, tumescent internode shape, internode is yellow green where exposed to sun and green yellow where not exposed to sun, internode expression of absent and depth of growth crack is shallow, oval shape of bud, bud tip clearly below growth ring, absent bud groove, root primordia is not organized, short lanceolate overlapping auricle and short unciform underlapping auricle.

Thai Cane Juice Industry Expands, Enabling Farmers to Earn More

At present, a lot of people drink cane juice and purchasing it is ubiquitous in the country, especially at major tourist attractions. Juice cane is a crop that yields a lot of income, enabling local farmers to earn daily. Besides, cane juice is high in nutrients as 28.35 grams of juice consists of 26.56 kilocalories of energy, 27.51 grams of carbo hydrate, 26.98 grams of sugar, 0.27 gram of protein, 11.23 milligrams of calcium, 0.37 milligram of iron, 41.96 milligrams of potassium and 17.01 milligrams of sodium.

“Local farmers like to make some juice from Si Samrong 1 and sell it because income from selling juice is higher than sending cane to sugar mills or middlemen. A kilogram of cane juice is 3-5 Baht. 18.47 tons of cane per a Rai land worth 55,410-92,350 Baht, an equivalent to 5,647 liters per a Rai land of cane or 40-50 Baht of cane juice per liter. The price varies as a kilogram of cane costs 5-7 Baht, a cane eye 2-20 Baht or a seedling 15-140 Baht,” explained Weerawan.

From Cane for Extraction to Cane Juice and Processed Cane Product

Thanks to its high amount of juice, high percentage of extraction and sweetness, Si Samrong 1 can also be chewed easily and its fiber is not pervous. Moreoevr, in the lower part of northern Thailand, namely in Sukhothai, Tak, Phetchabun, Nakhon Sawan and U-Thai Thani, the cane can be processed into a lot of products like tube sugar cane, cane with coconut milk and sticky chewey cane, for 27-30 Baht per kilo. The sticky chewey cane can cost up to 100 Baht per kilo. 18.47 tons of cane with sweetness of 13.69 CCS can produce around 2.52 tons of sugar, worth 68,040-75,600 Baht. However, the process costs a lot.

Planting and Caring for Si Samrong 1

Raweewan said that ways to care for Si Samrong 1 was not different from Suphanburi 50, but the cost of seedlings might be higher because the seedlings of Si Samrong 1 are still rare and expensive. It is easy to plant Si Samrong 1 in a shallow hole becausetillering is better than growing in a long row and will save seedlings. Fertilizer used should be 15-15-15 grades of 50 kilograms per rai for sandy soil or 25 kilograms per rai for loam or clay soil. The crop needs regular watering. When it is around 2-3 months old with regular watering systems, the rate of fertilizer should not be high because the stalk will break. Since cane for juice extraction can be sold throughout the year.

Speculating New Juice Extraction Cane for 2021

Farmers interested in selling and buying Si Samrong 1 cane are presently doing business from various on-line channels because they need additional income apart from sending the crop to sugar mills. Raweewan added that Department of Agriculture had been developing cane continually, particularly cane for factory, juice extraction and alternative energy. In terms of cane for juice extraction, the Department has an office responsible for developing it, namely Suphan Buri Field Crops Research Center, Khon Kaen Field Crops Research Center and Songkhla Field Crops Research Center. Each of them will improve the crop to suit a specific area. It is therefore expected that in 2021 at least 1 cane for juice extraction from Suphan Buri will be released. Now, a proposal is being made to certify it.

Si Samrong 1 is an ideal for farmers who need various usefulness of the crop apart from the existing Suphanburi 50 as it can be extracted for juice and made for other products. It can be sent to sugar mills or produce ethanol, thus adding more values to it. Although Si Samrong 1 has lately been approved, it will play a key role to mobilize industries of cane for juice extraction in Thailand for sure.