Sugarcane, or Sugar cane, is any of six to 37 species (depending on which taxonomic system is used) of tall perennial true grasses of the genus Saccharum, tribe Andropogoneae, native to the warm temperate to tropical regions of South Asia.
They have stout jointed fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar, and measure two to six metres (6 to 19 feet) tall. All sugar cane species interbreed, and the major commercial cultivars are complex hybrids.
Sugarcane belongs to the grass family (Poaceae), an economically important seed plant family that includes maize, wheat, rice, and sorghum and many forage crops. The main product of sugarcane is sucrose, which accumulates in the stalk internodes. Sucrose, extracted and purified in specialized mill factories, is used as raw material in human food industries or is fermented to produce ethanol. Ethanol is produced on a large scale by the Brazilian sugarcane industry.
Sugarcane is the world's largest crop. In 2010, FAO estimates it was cultivated on about 23.8 million hectares, in more than 90 countries, with a worldwide harvest of 1.69 billion tons. Brazil was the largest producer of sugar cane in the world. The next five major producers, in decreasing amounts of production, were India, China, Thailand, Pakistan and Mexico.
The world demand for sugar is the primary driver of sugarcane agriculture. Cane accounts for 80% of sugar produced; most of the rest is made from sugar beets. Sugarcane predominantly grows in the tropical and subtropical regions, and sugar beet predominantly grows in colder temperate regions of the world. Other than sugar, products derived from sugarcane include falernum, molasses, rum, cachaça (a traditional spirit from Brazil), bagasse and ethanol. In some regions, people use sugarcane reeds to make pens, mats, screens, and thatch. The young unexpanded inflorescence of tebu telor is eaten raw, steamed or toasted, and prepared in various ways in certain island communities of Indonesia.