Sugarcane takes 12-16 months to mature. When it is ready for harvesting it stands two to four metres tall. Farmers harvest their cane between June and December when rainfall is less frequent and the plant's sugar content is at its highest.
Traditionally, the cane has been burnt before harvesting to remove leaves, weeds and other trash which impede harvesting and milling. However it is now common for sugarcane to be harvested green rather than burnt. Green harvesting allows the farmer to recycle nitrogen in the plant by leaving trash cuttings from harvesting in the field.

Sugarcane is harvested by big machines which move along the rows of cane removing the leafy tops of the cane and cutting the stalk into short pieces or "billets". Billets are loaded into bins which are towed alongside the harvester. When full, the bins are taken by road or tramway to the sugar mill.

Traditionally, the cane has been burnt before harvesting to remove leaves, weeds and other trash which impede harvesting and milling.

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