Tutorials/Sugar cane farming

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Sugar cane is a valuable plant for crafting rockets and trading paper. Sugar cane can also be used with a composter to get bonemeal, however, melon farms are probably more suited for this. The large amount of sugar cane obtainable from some of these farms can make it much easier to get rockets or emeralds.

Mechanics[edit]

Sugar cane can only be planted on grass, dirt, podzol, and sand blocks. The block must be directly adjacent to water and not merely above or diagonal as with crops. If a plant's water source is removed, it will break when it is next updated. In Bedrock Edition, the sugar cane is updated with its water, so it breaks immediately.

Every 16 random ticks, sugar cane grows 1 block in height, similar to how cactus, kelp, and bamboo grow. On average, sugar cane will grow 1 block every 18 minutes. Sugar cane's growth rate is unaffected by the absence of light.

Sugarcane can naturally grow up to 3 blocks in height. This limit can be bypassed by placing additional plants on top of an existing one but it will still not grow naturally any further.

Sugar cane, like saplings, wheat, and cacti, will only grow if the chunk they are on is loaded into memory, so you should not venture too far from the field if you want it to grow. In Bedrock Edition the growth range is based on simulation distance.

Manual farm designs[edit]

This pattern is easier to harvest since the player doesn't fall into the 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 a 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. Light blocks can be used under or above the water to prevent mob spawning.

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 designs[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 that 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.

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.

Bone meal design[edit]

Information icon.svg
This feature is exclusive to Bedrock Edition.
Side view of a simple bone meal farm

In Bedrock Edition, bone meal can be used to instantly grow sugar cane to maximum height. This mechanic can be used to create automatic sugar cane farms.

In the shown design, the dispenser can be filled with bone meal to constantly grow the sugar cane. Since bone meal is not used up on fully grown sugar cane, none is wasted. The player can then stand and constantly break the middle block of sugar cane to quickly farm large quantities.

It is not difficult to connect this with a piston to make it more automatic. However, since pistons cannot push and retract as quickly as the observer clock, it may be desirable to use a different redstone clock. Additionally, a single hopper may not be able to keep up with the large amount of sugar cane, so multiple hoppers or a slower clock should be used.

Fully automatic designs[edit]

Fully automatic designs automatically harvest and collect sugar cane, usually relying on some sort of redstone clock or growth detection. These designs are often expensive to build and more lag prone than other designs. However, a large amount of sugar cane they produce can pay off.

There are two main types of automatic sugar cane farms: Stationary and flying. Stationary designs, while simpler for platforms without quasi-connectivity, are generally more resource and space intensive as compared to flying designs. Flying designs usually require slime blocks however which may be difficult to obtain for some players.

Stationary design[edit]

Automatic observer farm

By using a daylight sensor or other clock circuit, the semi-automatic piston design is shown above can be made fully automatic. To make it more lossless, it is recommended to add another layer of pistons above the original one. In Bedrock Edition, these designs can be an alternative to flying machines that are difficult to create and use for this purpose.

Other variations are also possible, such as this diagonal design which uses a hopper clock rather than a daylight sensor.

Rather than use a clock, some designs use observers to harvest the sugar cane as soon as it grows. Designs such as these inefficiently use space compared to the clock method. Since all the pistons activate anytime sugarcane grows, they are usually less lag efficient too. When constructing, the sugar cane goes on the dirt and rails run where the minecart is shown.

Flying design[edit]

The use of flying machines and hopper minecarts can be combined to create some of the most efficient farms. Flying machine designs generally use only a few pistons and don't create lag except when harvesting. This is usually the preferred type of design when creating a large farm. The main disadvantage to farms such as these is that they can break if unloaded while running. Due to this, it can be risky to have these run without supervision.

This video has some useful information regarding flying sugar cane farming. It contains a practically lossless flying machine design similar to the one above. The lossless design works by covering the water with leaves and using the flying machine to ensure items pushed to places they can be picked up.