Harvested cane must be rapidly processed. Once cut, sugarcane begins to lose its sugar content, and damage to the cane during mechanical harvesting accelerates this decline. This decline is offset because a modern chopper harvester can complete the harvest faster and more efficiently than hand cutting and loading.
Modern mechanical harvesters cuts the cane at the base of the stalk, strips the leaves, chops the cane into consistent lengths and deposits it into a transporter following alongside. The harvester then blows the trash back onto the field. Such machines can harvest approximately 100 tons each hour.
Lanee and I got to see something a little different.
The harvester cut the cane at the base and then formed a wind-row from two rows of cane.
A hydraulic high-lift infield machine then loaded tractor pulled transporters. The tractors took the filled transporters to a local delivery point for processing
This mechanical harvesting doesn't require the field to be set on fire. Most of the biomass is hauled off, requiring additional nutrients to be added to maximize future production.
A pdf of this page is linked.