SUGAR. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the world relied almost entirely on the sugar-cane for sugar. By 1860, the manufacture of beet sugar had begun to attain commercial importance and it continued to increase thereafter so rapidly and to such an extent that the cane plantations of the West Indies and other tropical coun tries were in hundreds of cases reduced to a condition that verged closely on ruin. By 1900, the civilized world—omitting China and India, which, though large pro ducers, export only unimportant quantities—was consuming two pounds of beet to one pound of cane sugar.
The pendulum has since swung a little the other way. The repeal of the beet sugar bounties put competition on a more even basis, and the improved conditions in Cuba, Porto Rico, Hawaii and the Philippines have very largely increased the output of cane sugar. The world's sugar production now averages between fourteen and fifteen million tons annu ally, of which a little more than half is cane sugar.
In the United States, popular senti ment tends to favor cane sugar in the abstract, but in actual practice the con sumer cannot tell one from the other when properly refined—for there is no difference, either apparent or by analy sis, in.flavor, appearance or composition. As a result of the crude processing of the first beet sugar manufactured here, some prejudice still exists against its use for canning or preserving, but this is now entirely unwarranted.
Commercial interests and conditions have made the United States the greatest cane-sugar importer. The country con sumes the entire home beet-sugar output —several states, including Colorado, Cali fornia, Michigan, Utah, Idaho and Wis consin, producing large quantities of excellent quality—but 90% to 98% of our importations are of the cane product.
The Sugar Cane—Its History and Cultivation.
The manufacture of sugar from the sugar-cane probably antedates all authen ticated history—reference is found to it even in the Sanskrit of Ancient India.
Its present title is derived from the Sanskrit, Carkara, modified by its course through various other languages—the Prakrit Sakka ra , then the Persian Shako,- and the Arabic Sakk a r , the Greek Sokol/ a r, the Latin Succaruni and the which last-mentioned the Anglo-Sqxon "sugar" is an easily un derstood change to better suit the English tongue.
The cane was introduced into Europe from the East by the Saracens soon after their conquests in the ninth century, and it is stated by Venetian historians that by the twelfth century their countrymen were importing sugar from Sicily at a cheaper rate than they could obtain it from Egypt, where it was then most extensively made.
The first plantations in Spain were at Valencia, the industry extending thence to other Spanish provinces and to Portugal, Madeira and the Canary Islands about the beginning of the fif teenth century. From Gomera, one of the Canaries, the cane was introduced into the West Indies by Columbus in his second voyage to America in 1493. By 1518, the Spaniards were operating twenty-eight plantations in San Domingo and an abundance of sugar was manufac tured, the island for a long period fur nishing the bulk of the European supply. Barbados, the oldest English settlement in the West Indies, began to export sugar in 1646, and as far back as the year 1676 the trade required ships of 450 tons burden.
The sugar-cane is to-day cultivated in every tropical and semi-tropical country. There are several varieties, but that known as "Otaheite" is the most productive—the cane being the juiciest and sweetest. The type grown on the Malacca section of the Malay Peninsula is the largest. • Sugar-cane is usually raised by the planting of slips, or buds, and grows to a height of from six to ten feet, in some sections to fifteen feet, with a diameter of from one to two inches. A fleld of it resembles in general appearance a flourishing field of Indian corn prior; to lieading..