Tutorials/Sugar cane farming

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Sugar cane must be planted on a grass, dirt, podzol or sand block that is directly adjacent to water (not merely above or diagonal to water). When fully grown it will stand three blocks high of sugar cane. Mature sugar cane should be harvested by hitting the middle block, to avoid replanting. Its growth rate is not affected by light, and it does not need light to grow.

Sugar cane, like saplings, wheat, and cacti, will only grow if the chunk they are on is loaded into memory, so a player should not venture too far from the field.

Sugar cane became substantially more valuable with the addition of villager trading, as sugar cane can be crafted into paper, which can then be exchanged for emeralds or other items.

Manual farm design[edit]

This pattern is easier to harvest since the player doesn't fall into water as often.
This compact pattern allows planting four sugar cane per water block.

The first step in building a sugar cane farm is choosing a design. When starting out, simply placing sugar cane on a river bank should be sufficient. However, this quickly becomes impractical when implemented on large scale. Sugar cane farms must balance between compactness, ease of harvest, and difficulty to build.

A double rowed design, while not the most efficient of designs as it has only 2 canes per water, is relatively easy to build and harvest. It is also a good choice for some of the semi automatic designs below. With this design, it is recommended to use flowing water rather than water sources. Not only is it easier to build it flowing, but when harvesting, any items that fall into the water will flow into a central location.

A more efficient grid pattern design can also be used. This design has 4 sugar canes per water source, so it is highly compact. The downsides are that is is more difficult to both build and harvest. The difficulty in harvesting can be removed by placing lily pads or something similar on top of all water blocks. This makes the ground smooth and easy for the player to walk on without falling.

When harvesting, walk slowly and sweep side to side breaking all but the bottom block of each sugar cane. Then, pick up any missed items and continue.

Semi automatic farm design[edit]

In Bedrock Edition, when sugar cane's water source is removed, it immediately breaks. Using this principle, it is easy to create semi automatic farms which harvest the sugar cane. These designs should still work in Java Edition, however, it will take a bit more time for the sugar cane to break. Some other designs here are classified as semi automatic due to their lack of ability to pick up the sugar cane. These can often be easily converted into automatic designs as seen in the next section.

Water canal design[edit]

Build the double rowed design as shown in the manual farms list. Then, place dispensers containing water buckets to control the water flow. Removing the water streams with the dispensers should cause the sugar cane to break so the player can pick them up and replant.

Frost harvester[edit]

By wearing Frost Walker boots, the player can temporarily freeze the water sources around sugar cane. This will eventually cause the sugar cane to break so that the player can easily pick it up. Note that if there is insufficient light, the frosted ice will not melt. Additionally, if using a grid design such as the one shown above, lily pads cannot be used making it more difficult to replant.

Piston harvester[edit]

Top view of an extended piston harvester
Side view of a piston harvester

This design uses pistons to harvest the sugar cane. If the sugar cane is only two blocks tall, it can all be pushed into a water stream. However, if it grows any taller, the top blocks may fall down to the sand where the player can pick it up. This design is often used as the basis for fully automatic farms, however, it must be modified to push the top blocks as well or some of the sugar cane may be lost.

Fully automatic designs[edit]

A fully automatic design, unlike the semi-automatic ones, is triggered automatically either by redstone clocks or block detector mechanisms.

Crazy no loss piston worm design[edit]

This design uses a lot fewer pistons, is fully automatic and picks up all of the drops. It can be a little bit unreliable, however.

Daylight sensor[edit]

This design is triggered once every Minecraft day (20 minutes of gameplay) with a daily pulse generator that uses a daylight sensor. The items are gathered by an array of hoppers and stored in chests. The design is stackable.

Hopper Timer[edit]

Using the same diamond shape idea Mumbo Jumbo showcased in his latest LP showcase, this gives you a lot of sugar cane.

Block detector[edit]

This design uses a block update detector (BUD) mechanism that triggers the mechanism when a sugar cane farm grows to its full size. Items are gathered by flowing water and hoppers, that store them into chests. The design is stackable. The more BUDs placed the more sugar cane rate collection achieved, as the sugar cane where the BUD is placed can take much time to grow, while other ones may be fully grown and not generating any new sugar cane blocks.

Slime Block Flying Machine[edit]

This design uses a dual direction slime block flying machine to break the sugar cane. If you intend on making a large farm, you might want to consider one of these designs, because they severely cut down the amount of pistons you need compared to other farms its size.

For a design that is completely lossless and uses hopper minecarts, watch this video:

For a design that is also pretty much lossless and uses slime blocks to push the sugar cane into water, watch this video:

Completely automated design[edit]

A dispenser based clock can be fed via hopper (or dropper, depending on vertical level) chain directly from the farm output. A comparator can be used to measure when the last hopper begins to fill with items, triggering a secondary chain of hoppers to feed further harvest into a chest for pickup. A T-flop can be used to trigger the farm every ten minutes, or a counter can be used to pick any increment of 5, for better efficiency. Note: A pulse limiter is needed between the T-flop or counter output and the farm pistons, else the pistons will simply stay in the extended position and inhibit growth.

Observer farm[edit]

With the addition of observer blocks in 1.11, making fully automatic sugar farms is now much easier. In this design, observers detect when the sugar cane grow to 3 blocks, and activates pistons which push the second layer of sugar cane, causing that layer as well as the layer above it to drop as an item. Then, the sugar cane is picked up by a minecart with hopper underneath, and transmitted to a chest. See the following layered blueprint:

The glass can be substituted for any type of block - using glass just allows the player to see into the farm without having to break blocks. The stone can be substituted for any solid block. Note that the piston should be facing towards the sugar cane, unlike the blueprint, and the "face" of the observer (not the red side) should also be facing towards the sugar cane.

To activate, a minecart with hopper must be placed on the powered rail. Once this is done, you have completed your sugar cane farm. You can go somewhere else and wait for a little while, and sugar cane will collect into the chest.

As per the current version of bedrock sugarcane will not grow if the sugar cane would potentially touch it. A common observer based build, would have, cane, piston, observer in a stack, yet the cane will not grow in this fashion, the observer must be set back 1 block, so that it would not potentially touch the SC. Then it will grow normally. please keep this in mind as many current youtube builds are not taking this into effect and simply claiming "works on all versions" when they did not actually check.

80% efficiency farming[edit]

The following diagram shows a 12 by 8 farm, utilizing 61 sugar cane and 22 water blocks, with a perimeter walkway.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

While an odd-shaped 80% efficient farm is possible, this design sacrifices some efficiency (79.2% efficient in an 11x7 farm, not counting the walkway) for ease of maintenance by including a rectangle perimeter walkway around the farm. The water placed in the walkway is required for watering the immediately adjacent sugar cane. Lily pads can be placed on the water blocks for convenience; this does not interfere with the sugar cane's growth.

Limitations and mitigation[edit]

The 80% efficiency design mentioned above has a limitation. When harvesting, it is easy to fall into the pools of water. The player must watch where they are going in order to ensure this does not happen. This can be solved by covering the water with either trapdoors, lily pads, slabs, or carpet.

Another limitation is lighting the design. There is currently no set location for lighting. With a larger design, mobs may spawn in the farm and interfere with harvesting or damage the structure. Glowstone, a sea lantern, or a jack o'lantern could be placed at the bottom of each pool of water to prevent this, mainly because glowstone and sea lanterns won't stop emitting light when it's submerged underwater.

The design can be modified to deal with these two limitations by placing glowstone or jack o'lanterns above each pool of water, or above certain pools in a pattern which provides sufficient light. This also allows the farm to double as an oak tree farm, should the player need wood as opposed to sugar cane. Dirt or cobblestone would be placed above the other pools to prevent the player falling in while mining. If the player does not have access to glowstone, torches could be placed on top of dirt or cobblestone on each pool, with the disadvantage of being easily knocked while harvesting.