Sugarcane is a large grass and the source of sugar. When the early Polynesians traveled to Hawaii in their canoes, they brought sugarcane with them. Their general name for this plant was “ko,” but they had names for 40 different varieties.
The first commercial sugarcane plantations in Hawaii were started in 1835 on the island of Kauai. By the end of the 19th century, sugar was “king” in Hawaii. A century later, the sugar industry had fallen due to increasing land and labor costs.
Sugarcane is grown for two years and then harvested just before it blooms. The fields are first burned and then cut down. The burned stems are crushed in a sugar mill and the juice is then cooked.