Madison Wisconsin. Experimental farm.

Experiments in amber cane and the ensilage of fodders at the Experimental farm online

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In compliance with Jt. Res. No. 4, S.— 6,000 copies ordered printed.







MADISON, WIS., i88i.

S.J^./M^^iL^ ^^o




In.compliance with Jt. Res. No. 4, S.— 5,000 copies ordered printed.







MADISON, WIS., 1881.





To His Excellency, J. M. Eusk, Governor:

In conformity to chapter 211 of the general laws of 1881, I
herewith present a report of the experiments in amber cane and
ensilage of fodders, conducted upon the university experimental
farm during the past season.

Most fortunately, Mr. Magnug Swenson was secured as chemist
in these experiments, and too much credit cannot be given him
for his untiring zeal in the difficult task to which he was assigned.
Such an experiment as securing sugar from amber cane in any-
thing like a practical way is a most difficult undertaking. Every
step in the process is along an unknown road, and the many fail-
ures in past years show that scores of persons who thought they
were certain of success, only attained defeat.

Fortunately Mr. Swenson understands machinery as well as
chemistry, and was enabled to design and superintend the con-
struction of the machinery used. By this means a great saving
was effected in the cost of machinery needed. Had it been other-
wise, the funds would not have been sufficient for the work.

I present Mr. Swenson's report as handed to me, believing that
in it, those intei'ested in amber cane will find information that
cannot but prove of great value to them. The fact that good
marketable sugar can be obtained from amber cane at the rate of
1,000 pounds to the acre, by methods even more practicable when
used on a large scale than in the present case, is a cause for grati-
fication, I think.

It is proposed to distribute samples of syrup and sugar obtained
in the experiments, in such a way that they can be seen at all the
agricultural gatherings held this winter, throughout the state.

Having experimented but a single season, it is needless to say
that much remains to be done yet, and many problems are still
awaiting solution.

In addition to the experiments, I have tried to learn the con-
dition of the industry throughout the state and have taken steps
to familiarize our farmers with what we are trying to do.

In April last a twelve-page circular relative to amber cane was
prepared and 3,000 copies Jistributed.

This fall 1,500 copies of a circular letter, making inquiries re-
garding the cane crop, were prepared and sent to all whom I
thought could aid us. In answer to these circulars I have replies
from 180 manufacturers of amber cane syrup, who report having
made about 850,000 gallons of syrup this year. A list of these
manufacturers, together with amount of syrup made by each, is
herewith given. Other valuable information from these reports
is given in its proper place.

In regard to the second experiment, the ensilage of fodders,
permit me to say that a silo was built and filled last summer, and
experiments are now in progress to determine the value of the en-
silage. So far the indications are very favorable, but it is too
soon to make any definite statements. As complete a report as
possible is herewith presented. It is planned that Mr. Swensoa
investigate the subject, from the chemical side, this winter, and
upon this point much remains yet to be known.

As required by the act above named, I have made a detailed
statement of the moneys expended up to the present. It will be
seen that we have not yet expended the sum granted.
Most respectfully submitted,

Prof. Agriculture^ University of Wisconsin.

Experimental Farm, University of Wisconsin, Madison,
Wis., December 81, 1881.

By Magnus Swenson.
The cbief object of the experiments conducted during the past
season has been to demonstrate the practicability of making
sugar from cane grown in this state. For this reason the work
has been carried on in a thoroughly practical manner. My re-
sults are not based on theory ; they do not show what might be
obtained, but what has actually been done. The amount of
sugar obtained is not deduced from the amount present in the
cane or syrup, but represents what has actually been crystallized
and separated as sugar.


The apparatus used consisted of one horizontal mill, made by
the Madison Manufacturing Company ; one ten horse-power steam
boiler ; one defecator of galvanized sheet iron, 3 feet high, 2.5
feet in diameter, and heated by a steam coil, made of 1-inch gas
pipe ; two galvanized iron evaporating pans, the larger 6 feet
long, 3 feet wide, 1 foot deep ; the smaller 4 feet long, 2 feet wide,
8 inches deep, both heated by steam coils ; one globular vacuum
pan 30 inches in diameter ; one wet air pump for exhausting the
vacuum pan ; one centrifugal machine for separating the sugar
from the syrup, 1^ feet in diameter, and 4 inches deep ; one small
steam pump for feeding the boiler, and running the vacuum pan
and centrifugal machine.


Before passing on to the actual experiments, a few pages will
be devoted to the general properties of cane sugar, and the sub-
stances 03curring with it in the cane juice. The average cane
contains about 85 per cent, of juice and 15 per cent, of dry
bagasse. The juice from the average cane obtained on the farm
consisted of 9.5 per cent, cane sugar, 3.2 per cent, glucose, 2.3
per cent, organic acid and vegetable matter, and 8.5 per cent
water. Cane sugar is a compound substance composed of 12 parts
carbon, 22 parts hydrogen, 11 parts oxygen; or since 1 part

oxygen and 2 parts hydrogen form water, we may consider cane
sugar to be made up of 12 parts carbon and 11 parts water.

Glucose, or grape sugar as it is also called, is composed of 12
parts carbon, 24 parts of hydrogen, 12 parts of oxygen, or 12
parts carbon and 12 parts water. The only difference between
the two is 1 part of water. If a solution of cane sugar in water
is heated with a small quantity of almost any acid, it takes up
one more part of water, and thus becomes changed to glucose.
Almost the same thing takes place when a solution of cane sugar
is acted upon by a ferment, such as yeast, or even by simply
heating for some time, large quantities of the crystallizable cane
sugar are changed. The one important thing in the boiling down
of cane juice is to guard against this change. As seen before,
the destruction of cane sugar may be induced in three different
ways : 1st. By the presence of an acid. 2d. By the presence of
a ferment. 3d. By high and prolonged heat. We will discuss
them in order.


All cane juice contains a considerable proportion of free or-
ganic acids. If, therefore, the juice be boiled down without first
neutralizing these acids, a large part of the cane sugar will be
changed into glucose. The amount of cane sugar destroyed may
be seen from the following experiment : Six hundred pounds
juice, containing 9.96 per cent, cane sugar and 3.45 per cent.- glu-
cose, was taken directly from the mill and boiled down to syrup.
The syrup was found to contain 22.4 per cent, cane sugar and
56.3 per cent, glucose. If no inversion had taken place, the
syrup should have contained 58.3 per cent, cane sugar ; so we see
that 61.6 per cent, of all the cane sugar originally in the juice
had been changed into glucose. Glucose has only one-third the
sweetening power of cane sugar, and its presence prevents, to a
large extent, the crystallization of cane sugar. The light-colored,
putty-like deposit in amber syrup, which is often mistaken for
cane sugar, is glucose.


If lime is added to the juice it will combine with and neutral-
ize the acid, and this union of the lime and acid forms a new

substance, which becomes, to a large extent, insoluble, and is re-
moved with the scum, what remains in the solution having no
effect whatever on the cane sugar. But here we meet with
another difficulty. If more lime than is necessary to neutralize
the acid has been added, although the excess has no effect what-
ever on the cane sugar, it will at once begin to decompose the
glucose, changing it into a series of very dark and bitter products,
which will impart a dark color, and a bitter, burnt taste to the
syrup. Fortunately we are in the possession of a very simple
test which tells when lime enough has been added. If a piece of
blue litmus paper is dipped into water containing a small quantity
of acid, it at once turns red ; and if a piece of red litmus paper
is dipped into water made slightly alkaline by the addition of a
little lime water, it at once turns blue. If, now, to a portion of
the acidified water we add gradually some lime water, we will
soon arrive at a point when the solution will have no effect on
the color of either red or blue litmus ; in other words, it is
neither alkaline nor acid, but neutral. This will be treated of
again under the head of defecation.


The next thing which tends to destroy the cane sugar is fer-
mentation. This process begins almost immediately after the
juice leaves the mill, and when the weather is warm large quan-
tities of sugar are lost in this way. Fermentation is at once
arrested by heating the juice to near the boiling point. Cane
juice should therefore never be allowed to remain standing any
length of time, but should be defecated as soon as possible after
coming from the mill.


High and prolonged heat is ^yery destructive to crystallizable
cane sugar. At first the temperature will not vary much from
that of boiling water, or 212*^ F., but as it becomes more and
more concentrated the boiling point gradually rises, until, when the
syrup is thick enough for sugar making, the boiling point is from
232° to 23i°. The destruction of sugar takes place long before
this point is reached. To 'get the best results the syrup should
not be boiled in an open pan after it reaches a density of 20'^ B.,

but should then be transferred to the vacuum pan. During the
first part of the boiling in this pan the temperature should not
exceed 170° R, and when the syrup becomes denser a more com-
plete vacuum should be maintained so as to boil it about 140** F.;
in fact, the lower the temperature the better.

The varieties of cane raised on the farm during the past season
were confined to the Early Amber, Early Orange and Honduras.
Of these the Early Amber is unquestionably the best for sugar
making, and our experiments were confined largely to this variety.
The total amount of juice in this cane is about 85 per cent, of
the total weight of the stalks, and the juice contained 9.20 per
cent cane sugar and 3.4 per cent, glucose. This content of sugar
represents the average of not less than 200 pounds of stalks
stripped and topped, the greater part of which were lodged.
Moreover, the land on which this cane was grown was quite low,
and the soil a cold, clay loam, not well adapted for cane growing.
Taking these facts in connection with the bad season, it must be
looked upon as below the average yield.


The development of the Early Amber cane raised on this farm
may to some extent be seen from the following analyses, which
have been made by me during the summer and fall :

August 10 ... .
August 20 ... .
September 6 . .
September 14 .
September 17 .
September 20 .
September 22 .
September 29 '
September 29 '
September 29 '
October 3

3 Cane sugar..

( Glucose

j Cane sugar..

} Glucose

j Cane sugar. .

I Glucose

] Cane sugar. .

I Glucose

j Cane sugar..

] Glucose

j Cane sugar. .

( Glucose

j Cane sugar. .
j Glucose . . . .
j Cane sugar. .

\ Glucose

j Cane sugar..

I Glucose

( Cane sugar..

} Glucose

] Cane sugar. .
I Glucose. . . .




















> This cane wm lodged by atorm.

From these we see that the cane sugar gradually and rapidly
increased, while the glucose slowly decreased, from the time of
flowering to the maturity of the seed. During the latter part of
September, most of the cane was lodged by a very violent wind
and rain storm. Tiae juice from the stalks that were lodged was
charged with a red coloring matter, the inside of the entire stalk
being in many cases of a bright red color. Several of the stalks
contained but a small portion of red coloring matter, but instead
had a peculiar yellow and watery appearance, and quite a disa-
greeable taste. The juices from these contained on an average
only 8 per cent, sugar, and 4.8 percent, glucose.


A number of stalks still in good condition, the juice of which
contained 9.50 cane, sugar and 3.25 glucose, were cut and left in
the field ten days, during almost constant rain. At the end of the
ten days the juice contained 5.98 cane sugar and 6.15 glucose.
Some Early Orange cane was also cut September 20, when the
juice contained 10.50 cane sugar and 4.95 glucose, and was left in
the field till November 2, when the juice contained 13.80 glucose,
while not a trace of cane sugar was present. These experiments
show conclusively that if cane is cut orginjured and left exposed
to rain, the destruction of cane sugar goes on very rapidly, being
in time entirely changed into glucose. The rapidity of the
change depends, of course, in great degree on the weather.



In order to ascertain the effect of leaving cane under cover,
two tons of Early Amber cane were cut, the juice containing 10.02
per cent, of cane sugar and 3.23 per cent, of glucose. One-half
was topped and stripped and both lots were placed on the floor of
the baro. The change taking place may be seen from the follow-
ing table:

September 20

The cane freshly cut

October 4.
After two weeks:



October 19.
After four weeks :



November 2.
After 6 weeks :


December 20.
After 13 weeks:







To judge by the table the cane changes very slowly, but in
reality the loss of sugar is quite rapid. If no loss of sugar took
place, the juice would of course become richer in sugar, on ac-
count of the evaporation of part of the water. In reality this is
not the case. The cane sugar becomes gradually changed to glu-
cose, which in turn is destroyed by fermentation. In this way
the juice may become even richer in sugar, but the quantity of
juice is greatly diminished. The juice becomes also very acid. The
effect produced by shocking the cane in the field was tried, with
very unsatisfactory results, the cine sugar being destroyed very



One part of a patch of Minnesota Early Amber cane was
stripped of leaves and left standing in the field from September
15 to September 22. It was then cut, and the juice, together with
some that had not been stripped, was analyzed, with the following
result :


Cane stripped for one week ,, 11.05 3.25

Same cane not stripped 13.98 2.78

The diminution of sugar is undoubtedly due to the fact that
the latent leaf buds found under each leaf begin to develop into
new leaves. These new leaves are formed partly at the expense
of the sugar in the cane.


The juice after it leaves the mill has a more or less green color,
due to the presence of large quantities of chlorophyl and other
vegetable substances, which must be removed. This process is
known as defecation. The defecator, or the vessel in which this
operation is conducted, may be of wood. Copper is perhaps the
best material, but is much more expensive. The vessel should
be furnished with a steam coil, with sufficient capacity to heat the
juice to the boiling point, in a short time. As soon as the juice
is expressed it should be removed to the defecator, where it should
be heated at once to about 175° F., or just about hot enough to
enable h, man to hold his hand in the juice without being scalded.
Milk of lime, freed from all coarse particles by straining, should
then be added until a slip of red litmus paper becomes changed
to a faint purple when dipped into the juice. The lime should be
added in small portions, the jaice being vigorously stirred with a
paddle after each addition. When the right quantity has been
added, the juice must be heated as quickly as possible. A thick
green scum will soon come to the surface. When the boiling


point is reached, — which is shown by the swelling and breaking
up of the scum, — the heat should be stopped and the juice left
quiet for about five minutes. The scum will then be quite hard,
and may be easily removed from the surface of the clear liquid.
Much will depend on a good defecation. If the defecation has
been properly conducted, the liquid will be clear, free from par-
ticles, and of a pale yellow color. If the S3um is of a light color
and thin, while the liquid below is opaque and has a greenish
color, it shows that too little lime has been added ; while if the
juice is very dark, too much lime has been used. Much nicety of
judgment is required to make a good defecation, which can onlj
be obtained by experience.


The clear juice from the defecator is now tolerably pure, most
of the impurities having been eliminated. It contains, however^
considerable lime, which if allowed tD remain will give us a dark
syrup, and if present in sufficient quantities will impart a more or
less bitter taste to the syrup. To avoid this we must neutralize
the lime, just as before we neutralized the acid. For this purpose
sulphurous acid is much us3d. Tbis acid may be added to the
juice in the defecator after removing the scum, or it may be added
to the juice in the evaporating pan. A sufficient quantity should
be added to give to the juice a distinct acid reaction, or until a
slip of blue litmus paper, dipped into the juice, is reddened. To
accomplish the same result, many preparations have been sold to-
the farmers and other syrup manufacturers by agents and peddlers.
I would here advise every one to leave all such preparations alone.
Most of them are either harmful or good for nothing, while others
are but modifications of the methods which I have des3ribed and
for which the buyer pays an exorbitant price. As long as I
remain at the university inquiries as to any method will be an-
swered. Before closing this report we will des3ribe methods by
which sulphurous acid may be made at syrup works.


The juice should be boiled down as rapidly as possible, the
scum which comes to the surface being skimmed off. If con-


<3ucted entirely in an open train, it should be concentrated till it
boils at about 234° F., whicb corresponds to about 45° B. If a
vacuum pan is used, the syrup should be transferred to it when
it has a density of about 20° B. It should then be concentrated
to about 44° B , at as low a temperature and as quickly as pos-
sible. If the syrup is made too thick, the crystals of sugar will
be small and difficqlt to separate; while if to:> thin the crystalli-
zation will tike place very slowly. After the syrup has been
boiled down to the proper density, it should be placed in a room
where the temperature may bs maintained at about 90° F. to
crystallize. The crystallization usually begins in a few hours,
and in live or six days the sugar may be separated. The syrup
may be boiled down a second time, and a secDud crop of crystals
equal to about one-half the quantity of the first may be obtained
in a couple of weeks. A good yield of sugar may be obtained it
the following rules are strictly adhered to :

1. Do not cut the cane until the seed begins to harden.

2. Do not allow the cane to stand stripped in the field.

3. Work up the cane as soon as possible after being cut.

4. Defecate the juice as soon as possible after leaving the mill.

5. For defecation use milk of lime, freed from coarse particles
"by straining ; add it gradually to the juice with vigorous stirring,
until a piece of red litmus paper is turned to a pale purple.

6. Heat the juice quickly to the boiling point, as shown by the
swelling and breaking of the scum.

7. Remove the scum after allowing the juic3 to remain quiet
for five minutes.

8. Draw off the clear juice, through an aperture near the
bottom of the defacator, into the evaporating pan.

9. Add sulphurous acid to the clear juice until a piece of blue
litmus paper is reddened.'

10. Evaporate down until it reaches a density of 45° B., or if
boiled in an open pan, to a boiling temperature of 284° F.

11. Place in a warm room to crystallize, and in about a week
it will be ready to separate.

' This step may be omitted if no excess of lime has been added during def-
ecation. It will have no efiect on the quantity of sugar obtained, but will
make a lighter colored molasses.



Below will be found a table containing the summary of the re-
sults obtained from two plots. Plot A was planted with seed ob-
tained from Mr. Seth Kinney, of Morristown, Minnesota. Plot
B was planted with seed from Mr. Charles Eastis, of Port Atkin-
son, Wisconsin. Plot A was very much exposed and a great deal
of the cane was lodged, while Plot B was more sheltered and the
cane was in better condition.

Area of plots in acres

Total weight of cane

Total weight of j uice in cane

Weight of juice expressed

Weight of juice left in bagasse

Per cent, of cane sugar in juice

Per cent, of glucose in juice

Total weight of cane sugar in cane. . . .
Weight of cane sugar in expressed j uice.

Weight of cane sugar in bagasse

Weight of syrup obtained

Weight of cane sugar separated

Weight of molasses

Bushels of seed


03 m


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2 S3 S a,






































Ti u a o
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A glance at the table will show at once the wastefulness of the
present mode of extracting the juice. Out of 85 per cent, in the
cane, only 60 per cent, was obtained, or nearly 80 per cent, of
the sugar in the cane was left in the bagasse. This loss is un-
undoubtedly smaller than that sustained in the majority of cases,
as 60 per cent, of juice is larger than the average per cent, ob-
tained by the small mills usually employed. The absurd theory
that if too much juice is expressed, it will cause the whole to
"sour," make a poor syrup, etc., is entirely false.


The diflfusion process for extracting the sugar from both beets
and cane is now employed in nearly all of the principal factories.
The cane is cut into thin slices by rapidly revolving cutting ma-


chines, the sugar being extracted from these by the use of water.
If the pieces of cane are placed in a vessel, and a quantity of
water equal to the quantity of juice in them be added, part of the
sugar will at once pass through the cell walls into the surround-
ing water, while part of the water will enter the cells. This
will continue until the liquids inside and outside of the cell walls
are of the same density. If this water be drained off, it will
contain half the sugar. If, now, this same cane be treated with
equal and successive portions of water, each portion, when
drained off, will contain one-half of the sugar contained in the
cane at the time when it was added. In other words, the cane
■will retain after each draining, one-half, one-fourth, one-eighth,
one-sixteenth, one-thirty-second, etc., of the sugar originally in the
cane. In practice this process is carried on in such a way that
the water is used over again on successive portions of
cane until it becomes nearly as rich in sugar as the juice, only
about 20 per cent of water being added. An apparatus work-

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Online LibraryMadison Wisconsin. Experimental farmExperiments in amber cane and the ensilage of fodders at the Experimental farm → online text (page 1 of 7)