Stem cuttings or sections of the stalks called "setts" or seed pieces propagate sugarcane. Each sett contains one or more buds. The buds, located in the root band of the node, are embryonic shoots consisting of a miniature stalk with small leaves.
The outer small leaves are in the form of scales. The outermost bud scale has the form of
a hood. Normally, one bud is present on each node and they alternate between one side of the stalk to the other.
Variations in size, shape and ther characteristics of the bud provide a means of distinguishing between varieties. Each sett also contains a circle of small dots above the node, which are the root primordia. Each primordium exhibits a dark center, which is a root cap, and a light colored "halo".
The bud sprouts under favourable conditions and gives rise to a primary stalk, whereas from the primordial the sett roots originate.
During nearly one month after germination, that is, sprouting of the buds, the young plant lives at the expense of the reserves present in the seed piece, and partially using water and nutrients provided for by the first roots.