In Hawaii after the sugarcane harvest, comes the burning of the sugarcane. The usable cane is harvested and processed, leaving the stubble behind in the fields. As the plant stems are tough and woody, especially when dried, preparing the fields for the next year would be quite difficult. Burning effectively removes the stubble and allows the fields to be more easily tilled for the next year's crop. Burning also releases much of the trace mineral content back into the soil.
The effect of the burnoff, however, is more interesting. We flew over burning fields of sugarcane stubble on our way into the Maui airport. The thick black smoke columns rose thousands of feet into the sky. The smell of the burning cane after we landed and drove out toward the north island was a pleasant mixture of burning grass and overtoasted cinnamon pop tarts. Smell is said to be the most basic of the five human senses. Every time I smell burned sugar I'll always remember Hawaii.