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Puerto Rico office of USDA-NASS

Ag History of Sugar Cane

Sugar Cane came from the South Pacific where primitive tribes believed that the human race came from two sugar cane buds. When sugar arrived in the Caribbean it had travel the world under different names. In the Tibet it was known as 'sa-kar', the arabs called it 'accucar', the Chinese 'Kanche' and the Venetian call the crystalized sugar 'candi'.

Sugar Cane made its entrance into Europe with the conquests of the Moslems who planted it in Sicily and in Spain. In the eleventh century, thanks to the invention of the Trapetum (a press to extract the juices of the sugar cane), the golden age of the sugar in Sicily began. The Trapetum was invented by Pietro Speciale.

The first roots of sugar cane to be planted in the new world were brought by Christopher Columbus to the Dominican Republic in the year 1493. In 1501 the first sugar cane field was put in production and in 1506 the first molasses was extracted using an indian "cunyaya". In 1515 the first "trapiche" was constructed and the first masters of sugar arrived from the Canaries Islands.

It is not documented when the first plants of sugar cane arrived in Puerto Rico, but it is believed that it was when Juan Ponce de Leon began colonizing the island. It was first planted in the gardens to be chewed.

The first sugar cane farm in Puerto Rico was established by Don Fernando "the catholic" in the "Hato de los Reyes Catolicos" (the cattle ranch of the Catholic Kings) known today as Hato Rey.

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