Friday, July 25, 2008

What is cane burning?

ChezChani asked me in the comment section of my blog post entitled Giant Cloud and a Boat what cane burning was. I figured others might be curious as well so that I'd answer in a blog post.

Cane burning is the burning of the sugar's unfortunately the way they harvest it. It is done to get rid of the leaves on the plant, old debris and centipedes but it does not prepare the sugar cane itself in any way. I don't know if it's true or not as I'm not finding anything about it online so far, but living here I've heard the story a couple of times that ages ago..they didn't didn't burn the fields to harvest the cane. Supposedly someone set a field on fire as an act of agression but it turned out to be a good thing, helped them to discover an easier way to harvest the crop.

Cane burning is a huge controversy on Maui. Many protest against is as it causes allergies and health problems. When it burns the plastic drip system they lay to water the cane as well as the pesticides used also burn along with the cane and all those toxins are released into the air. And of course they have to plan to burn on days when we don't have strong trade winds so sometimes we wake up and it's all smokey outside. It's really irritating when this happens because it's too hot to leave your window's closed since many homes here do not have air conditioning. Yet you want to breathe air not smoke.

Some days we get what we call Hawaiian Snow..and it's big black ash flakes that float down everywhere. A real bugger when you are doing an outside craft fair. You can't wipe off the flakes or it will smear black. We have to fan it off very carefully.

Heres a funny video I found on youtube created by Field Camera class for Akaku Community TV that talks about the controversy

This one has the embedding option disabled but you can click below to see a drive down one of our highways with cane burning in the distance.

Sugar cane burning video

But on the positive side..the cane fields are beautiful part of the scenery of Maui; espcially as they sway in the trade winds.


Marjorie said...

Interesting Jamee - thanks for explaining it all! I've heard of cane burning before but didn't know why they did it.

Sarah said...

That is really interesting! I had never heard of it before. Black ash and smoke doesn't sound like fun...except maybe to watch from a distance!

ChezChani said...

I have to think there is a better way. Must be really tough for asthmatics. Thanks for explaining. I do love my sugar.

I've put you on my blog list too. Thanks!