ki We show below the most ordinary and usual manner of planting the
sugar cane in Porto Rico.
Sj/iiilf planting. Is adopted when the land is hard to work, or wnen
it is sandy or compact, or when the soil is very deep, and when replant-
ings are made, and on dry, cleared land.
^ Holes or pits. On ground having a deep soil, no irrigation, where
the planting is to last several years, and where there are sufficient
"On l><i/tks. On land having a shallow soil, with much moisture,
no drainage: on plantations on a small scale, and where a sufficient
number of workmen can be procured.
" I will state here what each kind of planting of sugar cane consists
u This planting requires a small removal of earth and consists in dig-
ging rectangular holes of more or less depth, according to the moisture
and thickness of the vegetable coat.
" The holes are dug in straight lines and at equal distances from each
other; in each hole two, three, or even four stalks are placed, which
are laid at the bottom of the hole, or against one of the sides thereof,
in an almost vertical position for the purpose of throwing off the
humidity and for protection against the ravages of insects. The
stalks are covered with a coat of earth of 1 inch thickness."
PLANTING IN HOLES OR PITS.
"After tne ground has been cleared and prepared with the furrows
and ditches necessary, the places for the holes are indicated by means
of pegs, and the laborers, with spades, each take one line, digging holes
136 REPORT ON THE CENSUS OF PORTO RICO, 1899.
which are general^ square and of a depth varying between 15 and 30
centimeters, the greater depth being given to dry land or to land swept
by winds. The workmen in digging the holes place the earth dug up
at their feet near the edge of the hole, thus making small hills of from
35 to 40 centimeters in height. Sometimes this earth is thrown off to
the right of the holes, making a continuous hill in the center of the
street remaining between the holes. These hills receive the name of
banks, which are very different, however, from those made between
furrows and on which planting is done.
"In each hole between two and four cuttings are placed. The latter
number in general is too high and is only used when, on account of the
bad character of the cane which can be procured and the poverty of
the ground, the ravages of insects are feared, or other causes which
might destroy the shoots, by which the expense of replanting is avoided.
"The cane stalks placed in the holes may be placed in different posi-
tions; they may be laid down on the bottom or on the sides of the
holes. In the first case they may be placed parallel to each other and
at equal distances, or some parallel and others crossing the same, or
leaning against the corners of the hole and allowing them to meet in
the center of the bottom, or crossing the corners and leaving an open
space in the bottom, etc. In the second case all the stalks are placed
against the same side, or half on one side and half on the other, or,
finally, one on each side.
" Before placing the stalks in the hole, it is customary to throw some
loose earth at the bottom to serve as a bed. After the stalks have been
placed in position, they are covered with earth, taken from the hills
adjacent thereto, but not more than 1 inch in thickness.
"This is the general character of the planting done in Porto Rico,
where the land is prepared in an excellent manner; but as it is never
fertilized nor irrigated, the returns are very meager."
PLANTING ON BANKS.
"This kind of planting is convenient or advisable in the cast's we have
mentioned in the classification above, and consists in laying off the
ground and raising banks over the ordinary level of the ground,
taking ground from the furrows which are to separate the same. The
planting is made on these banks, according to the rules mentioned, in
such manner that each bank does not contain more than two lines of
u The manner of preparing the land is the same as we have mentioned
in speaking of the preparation thereof, and is adopted in many plan-
tations on a small scale, as when the cane is to be sold in towns for
chewing or for the purpose of making beverages.
"Afterwards the cane requires the following care:
CULTIVATION OF SUGAR CANE. 137
"Not all the stalks having germs which are placed in the ground give
good results, sometimes on account of a mistake in the character of the
planting adopted, or on account of the bad condition of the shoots, or
of lack of humidity in the ground, which paralyzes the progress of the
growth, or sometimes on account of an excessive degree of moisture
which causes the roots to rot, and finalty by reason of other accidents,
such as the ravages of animals, insects, etc., to such an extent that
there often remain in the plantation empty spaces without any cane
"Whatever be the number of stalks or shoots lost, replanting is
necessary; to what extent may be seen after the planting begins to
"The stalks used in the replanting are to be of proper condition and
have the germs perfectly developed, in order that they may soon
germinate and reach the height of the preceding cane. Should there
be a great difference between the development of one and the other,
when the cutting period arrives, the cane will have a different state of
maturity, reducing the degree of sugar.
"For replanting, the spade system is generally used. Sometimes,
but not very often, new holes have to be dug and the disposition of
the ground changed, which will give rise to new expenses. "
"This operation consists in tearing out of the ground the weeds
which grow in the plantation.
"In cane countries spontaneous vegetation is excessive to such an
extent that it constitutes the principal enemy of all cultivation, and if
it is not frequently and tenaciously combatted, no cultivation of any
kind would be possible in these countries.
"Generally one month after the cane has sprung up the first weeding
must be done, which is done with a hoe or spade, tearing up by the
roots the weeds which exist between the lines or in the streets, and
with the hands those growing between the cane. The first weeding is
sometimes confined to this only, when there is not a sufficient personnel,
or when other work is to be done on the plantation.
"The weeds torn up by their roots are gathered together, and after
the earth has been shaken from them they are placed on the hills of
earth for the purpose of rotting and fertilizing the ground, or to serve
as a bed for the cane when it develops and falls.
"The weeding must be repeated at frequent intervals until the cane,
when about five or six months old, has grown to a sufficient height to
cross and for its foliage to cast a shadow on the ground, after which
hardly any weeds grow and injure the cane.
138 REPORT ON THE CENSUS OF PORTO RICO, 1899.
"The number of weedings during this period must not be less than
two or more than five, depending on the fecundity of the ground, the
character of the climate, the previous condition of the land, the pre-
paratory labors, and even the kind of fertilizer used.
"Thus the rules for weeding are reduced to the following:
" 1. To extirpate the roots of weeds with a hoe or by hand, taking
care not to injure the roots of the cane.
"2. To deposit the weeds uprooted on the edges, hills, or bunks, where
they are not in the way and where they can serve as a bed for the cane.
"3. To repeat the operation whenever there is an abundance of weeds
covering the soil, or which injure the plantings."
"This is the operation of covering the foot of the plants with earth.
" The sugar cane, the same as corn, tobacco, and many other plants of
active vegetation, has the faculty of throwing out visible roots at the
level of the ground. They appear to rise from the ground, tind if they
were not protected by cultivation their economical rendition would
suffer to a high degree.
"According to the class and form of planting adopted, the hilling is
done before or after the same. In plantings with buds in the air the
hilling must be done within thirty days after the shoots have sprung
up; in deeper plantings it is done at a later period.
"This operation is done from one to three times, according to circum-
stances, because if the lack of earth at the foot of the cane is great, an
excess thereof is injurious. Its object is to give a greater basis to the
plant from which to derive nutrition; it favors the development of the
shoots and prepares the bunch for the subsequent crops.
"This explains the necessity of hilling, which should not be very great.
as several coats of earth would prevent the germs of the shoots at a
certain depth from germinating on account of a lack of air or of energy
to surmount the obstacle, thus endangering the subsequent crops.
*" Therefore a little hilling is necessary and sufficient; too much is
expensive and injurious for the future life of the cane tield."
BREAKING OFF SUCKERS OR SHOOTS.
"Cane planted under normal conditions is all the time producing
shoots, and if this were permitted it is understood that when the cut-
ting period arrives there would be cane of all kinds in the plantation,
some ripe and others half ripe, and it would require a considerable
expense to separate it. If not separated they would go together to the
mill, and while the ripe cane would give a sirup heavily charged with
sugar, the green cane would give it charged with glucose, thus giving
together a sirup having a reduced amount of sugar, requiring more com-
bustion to secure evaporation, and rendering less sugar.
SUGAR MILL IN MANATI.
CULTIVATION OF SUGAR CANE. 139
"Therefore, when the third or fourth weeding takes place, the shoots
which have not reached the proper stage are torn out, especially those
which it is known will not reach a mature state at the time for cutting,
and which if left would deprive the principal plants of nutritious
elements. This operation is done by hand, and a slight effort upward
is sufficient to remove them."
STRIPPING OFF LEAVES.
''As the sugar cane grows and approaches maturity, its internodes
develop in proportion, reaching such a stage that they shed the pro-
tecting leaves that envelop them.
"The spontaneous shedding of leaves begins on the lowest internode,
and continues ascending, in proportion as the plant reaches maturity,
until the foliage is reduced to the cane top, which is also shed after
blooming, when the plant dies, first in the economical order and then
in the physiological.
"In stripping the leaves it may easily be ascertained when the opera-
tion is to take place. A leaf which is still green does not detach itself
easily and must not be touched until it is dry.
"The first stripping takes place after four months, and from this time
until the cutting the operation must be repeated two or three times.
"The stripping must not be made during very warm weather and
intense sun, because it somewhat dries the tender portions of the plants.
".The stripping, besides avoiding the injuries which we have men-
tioned and increasing the degree of sweetness of the juice of the cane,
has also the object of retarding the blooming."
CUTTING THE CANE.
"The sugarcane has a critical moment of maturity which it is neces-
sary to take advantage of for cutting. Maturity is reached when the
cane blooms, or ceases to grow and develop. At this period the cane
contains the largest amount possible of sugar.
"The cane, before reaching maturity, in its green condition, has not
had time fully to elaborate its juices that is to say, to transform the
glucose into sucrose and the cutting, therefore, at this stage would
be disastrous, because as much sugar would be lost as there is glucose
in the cane, and furthermore rendering the operation of elaborating
much more difficult.
' 4 On the other hand, if maturity is reached a long period of time
should be allowed to elapse other evils would originate. Rains on ripe
cane make it green again, as is the case with indigo and other indus-
trial plants. The juice of the cane is reduced; the saccharine matter
turns into glucose. In addition, the ripe cane has fulfilled its mission,
and from this moment it begins to die. It leans over until it touches
the ground, roots sprouting from the internodes which touch the
REPORT ON THE CENSUS OF PORTO RICO, 1S99.
ground, and the respective germs develop shoots, all of them develop-
ing at the expense of the juice of the cane that is, f rorn the saccharine,
which diminishes and becomes transformed into glucose until it i>
exhausted. On the other hand, old cane becomes hard, increasing the
cost of the cutting and rendering the operation of grinding much more
difficult. From all this it may be seen that green cane, as well as over-
ripe cane, can not well be used for industrial purposes.
"The age of the cane and the condition of the weather determine the
time for cutting; when these two factors do not concur with each
other, the right moment has not arrived.
"Cane ready for cutting changes color and becomes lighter; the
leaves, excepting those of the cane top, are dry, the stalk becomes
brilliant or shiny. The characteristic signs of the cane- ready for
cutting when once seen can never be mistaken.
"I state below, according to the analysis made by M. Deitell at the
agricultural station on Reunion Island, the composition of cane at the
different stages of maturity:
Age of cane in months.
The following statement of cost of planting and caring for 1 cuerda
of sugar cane from date of planting to time of cutting was prepared
by Senor Badrena, supervisor of the department of Mayaguez:
" When the soil is sandy and loose it will need
Plowing three times, cost $7. 50
Ditching 6. 00
Holes for planting the shoots, 2,500 to every cuerda 5. 00
Cost of shoots, 7, 500 to every cuerda 9. 37
Planting the same 3. 12
Cleaning the ground from weeds four times during the growth 8. 00
Clearing the plant from dry leaves 2. 00
Total cost of 1 cuerda :
Porto Rican currency $40. 99
United States currency 24. 59
1 When the soil is hard it will need
Plowing four times, cost $12. 00
Making the ditches 8. 75
Making the holes 7. 50
Planting the shoots . 13. 12
CULTIVATION OF TOBACCO. 141
" When the soil is hard it will need
Cleaning the ground from weeds $10. 00
Clearing the plant from dry leaves 2. 00
Total cost of 1 cuerda :
Porto Rican currency 53. 37
United States currency 31. 02
Cutting 1 cuerda of cane costs ?>4=$2.40 United States currency.
Average cost of manufacturing 1 hogshead of sugar, 10 pesos; equal to $6 United
Net weight of 1 hogshead of sugar in shipping condition is 1,200 pounds.
Tare that is usually deducted from gross weight of cask, 12 per cent.
Loss of weight during transportation to ports of the United States by steamships,
6 per cent; by sail, 10 to 12 per cent.
Cost of putting 1 hogshead on board ship, 25 cents, Porto Rico.
Bonoflcation, usually paid to planters for lighterage from the plantation to market,
$1, or $0. 60 United States currency, per cask."
According to Fray Inigo Abbad and Col. George D. Flinter, of the
general staff of the Spanish army, and for many years a resident of
Porto Rico, the production of sugar in 1775 was 273,750 pounds; in
1803, 176,341 pounds; in 1810, 2,544,923 pounds; in 1828, 12,251,662
pounds, and in 1830, 31,514,388 pounds. According to Senor Coll y
Toste, the production for and since 1850 was as follows, viz:
112 129 432
3 910 167 38
116, 015, 181
1870 . .
191 649 670
5 749 492 10
221, 220, 894
128 021 904
3 782 465 50
126 827 472
4 007 992 08
1 132, 000, 000
As in Cuba, the tendency is toward large plantations, with central
mills for grinding. Comparatively few of the sugar estates are pro-
vided with steam vacuum machinery for making sugar, and nearly
one-half of the cane-grinding machines are worked by oxen. The
hurricane of August 8, 1899, damaged the sugar mills considerably,
and the financial straits of the planters have made it impossible to
restore the plants. Larger plantations or colonias, unproved methods
of cultivation, and central mills with improved machinery will in time
no doubt add enormous!}' to the output of sugar.
Report by Senor PLANELLA.
"It may be said that the cultivation of tobacco prior to the 3'ear 1870
was limited in some parts of this island to small plantings for domestic
consumption in cigarettes, cigars, and fine cut tobacco.
' * In the year above mentioned exportation to Cuba commenced and
tobacco growing received a groat stimulus and development.
"The increase of tobacco factories, which demanded a constant supply
of leaf tobacco, suitable for being worked into cigars, had a tendency
to increase the cultivation in those localities which were adapted to
produce the most select product for the manufacturer.
"The establishment of new factories has made the Porto Rican prod-
uct known in the various markets of Europe and America. The demand
and consumption stimulate the manufacturer to a regular production
in those factories which employ the select stock raised in good localities.
" It must be confessed, however, that up to the present time the cul-
tivation of tobacco has not kept pace with the demand of the manufac-
turer, who is obliged by the demands of his buyers to seek tirst-class
stock which has the quality, flavor, style, and workmanship desired by
the consumer. The cultivation of tobacco has responded to none of
these demands, because the quality of the tobacco depends more on the
land than the cultivation, which has not produced a marked improve-
ment in the product.
"A careful selection of seed has not been made, and to this fact is due
the varieties of tobacco cultivated. The grower has given his atten-
tion to the raising of plants that produce beautiful leaves that will
look well in the market and that have good weight, the only qualities
he looks for in order to obtain remuneration for his labor. At the
present time, however, the manufacturer requires of the tobacco
grower a product that will satisfy the demands of manufacture and
also the demand for the product. This advancement in the industry
calls for an advance in the cultivation which constitutes a specialty,
and has produced among tobacco cultivators a real revolution, destroy-
ing known methods in order to establish others which will produce
qualities called for both by taste and manufacturing. It is not suffi-
cient any more that the tobacco should have a good flavor and burn
well. It must also have a light, clear color, a fine aroma, be elastic
both in the leaf and intercostal spaces, which must also present a large
44 The grower must have as a principal factor special land, rich in
salts of potash, on which to grow the plant under the proper condi-
tions, in order that the tobacco may acquire the aroma, a certain
special flavor, richness of nicotine, which should not exceed 2 per
cent, and good burning qualities; all these being essentials looked for
by the manufacturer and demanded by the consumer. This is the
reason why the regions recognized as producers of good tobacco
are so appreciated. Cayey, for the quality of tobacco produced, is in
Porto Rico, what Vuelta Abajo is in Cuba.
"Several varieties of the nicotian plant are cultivated in the
country that called Guacharo, which is believed to be a native of
CULTIVATION OF TOBACCO. 143
Venezuela, the Virginia blanca, the Corazon de Vaca, the Cubano,
and others. As yet the selection of the variety best suited for the pur-
poses of the manufacturer has not been made. He prefers a leaf with
color, elasticity, large intercostal spaces, and small ribs, which are the
best for the manufacture of the different kinds of cigars which the
consumer demands essential qualities which oblige the maker to seek
the locality productive of good tobacco, indeed the only selection that
is now made.
"The cultivation of tobacco presents three principal phases: First,
the seed; second, the general cultivation in all its details; third, the
cutting and curing of the leaf.
"In order to obtain good seed, as a general rule forest land or that
next to rivers is selected. When the land is property prepared, the
seed is irrigated from the 30th of August until the end of September,
special attention being given to germination until the plant is suffi-
ciently developed to be transplanted to the field where it is to be
' ' Some months before the seed is sown the land is prepared, the plow-
ing being done in the months of June and July. If the ground is full
of weeds, they are turned under, so that as they decay they may serve
as a fertilizer. In August the ground is plowed again, and as a final
preparation it is harrowed so as to be kept loose. The months of
October, November, December, and January are the months in which
tobacco is sown, October being the month in which it is most likely to
secure good results, because the plants grow during the season of light
showers. The hard rains of April injure many leaves.
"Tobacco fields require careful cultivation and constant attention in
order to overcome the many insects that attack the plant. The culti-
vator must persecute them morning, noon, and night.
"The tobacco grower, as the plant develops, separates the leaf from
the plant, which should not be done until said plant is three months old.
The leaves are cut off with the proper instrument in handfuls. which
the laborer places on his arm, in order to deposit them with much
care on wooden frames, and carries them to the curing house, where
they HIV placed with the proper spaces between them.
" From 16,000 to 20,000 plants should be set out on each cuerda
* ' The leaves are cured in houses covered in such a manner that the
aii- does not penetrate, and never the rays of the sun nor the rains.
"When the leaf is cured it is taken from the curing house, and after
cutting off a small piece of the stem attached it is put through the first
'sweat,' or. rather, a slight fermentation.
"When the tobacco is sorted the leaves are united in bunches of 15
or 20, tied together at the base, and this bunch is known as a manilla.
These manittas are then arranged according to classes, forming large
144 REPORT ON THE CENSUS OF PORTO RICO, 1899.
piles, so that they undergo the second fermentation, which should be
watched and brought to an end at the proper time. Finally the
mcmittas are packed in yaguas (palm bark), being in this form ready to
be stored in the warehouses.
"The tobacco leaves undergo three fermentations or sweatings in
the months of April, June, and August.
"There is much tobacco which, after undergoing the three fermen-
tations, loses its strength and becomes in this manner of poor quality
for the manufacture of cigars. In Latin America this is called tubano.
"The manufacturer, jealous for the reputation of his factory, always
keeps this fact in mind, and therefore it is necessary to have a good
knowledge of the place of production and the importance which a good
producing zone acquires.
' ' The tobacco produced on the coast, in forests, and other places, not
suited to be made into cigars, is employed in the manufacture of fine
cut chewing tobacco. This is prepared in the following manner: A
given number of leaves are twisted together, and to this twist is added
another equal to the former, and this process is continued until a cord
or rope some' 80 yards long is produced, which is then rolled like
thread on a spool, forming a roll a yard in diameter, covered with
"In order to cut or thread the tobacco, it is moistened with salt water
or an infusion of coffee, for the purpose of developing a sufficient
quantity of nicotine and acquiring greater strength when it ferments.
Many of these rolls are lost after the last sweat, which is in August,
owing to the poor quality of the tobacco, which fact the merchant
keeps in mind and buys with the proviso that he will pay 10 or more