Arundo donax, also known to reed players simply as “cane” must be properly harvested and dried to be of any use to musicians. Unfortunately, unless you have your own cane field in your backyard, an oboist has to depend on the supplier or grower to do this. If the harvesting and drying is not done correctly, you might end up with green cane or cane that, for one reason or another, is disagreeable to reedmaking.

Lengths of cane should be harvested after the winter solstice (Dec 21), not for any mystical reason but since that is when the days are shortest and the sap is down in the Arundo donax plant.  The stalks are then allowed to dry vertically for three months before being cut into 3-4 foot lengths and dried horizontally for another three months. The cane is then husked and dried two weeks to two months, varying by heat and sun and shade conditions. There are different schools of thought as to when to remove the husks

If you happen to have some cane that is a bit green, exposure to sunlight will help make the cane useable for reeds. The reason tube cane darkens in color and also hardens is because of UV rays; basically "sun-tanning" your cane. Just lay the cane in a window with a sun exposure (turn so both sides get tanned). 

Placing your cane in the oven or under heat lamps will not produce the desired effect, unless you just want to cook your cane a little. What causes the hardening and "pigmentation" of the cane, is a chemical change caused by UV rays.

You can also put your cane under grow lamps (UV rays). The cane left under the UV lamps will change color and become much denser, becoming eminently more useable for reeds.


Drying Tube Cane

The reason tube cane darkens in color and also hardens is because of UV rays

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