Heavy Rainfall Slows Down Sugar Cane Harvesting Process

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Heavy rainfall hit the Louisiana sugar cane industry this fall, slowing down the harvesting process and reducing crop yields.

         Rain from the remnants of Hurricane Patricia and additional storms dumped several inches of rain across the state from late October through early November, The Advocate’s Timothy Boone reports.

         Ken Gravois, a sugar cane specialist with the LSU AgCenter, said the remnants of Patricia knocked down 75 to 80 percent of the crops that hadn't been harvested.

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         "These are not the best conditions for a harvest," he said.

         He added that it's more difficult to harvest sugar cane stalks that have been knocked down since harvesting equipment is designed for standing-tall stalks. The grinding process is also slowed down because of the mud and water that gets picked up.

         Gravois said that 65 percent of the nearly 458,000 acres of sugar cane crops had not been harvested by late October.

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         General manager of the American Sugar Cane League Jim Simon said between 500 to 800 acres of sugar cane flooded in St. James Parish. "In a couple of pockets around the state, this is a real problem," he said.

         Overall, the rain has led to sugar cane yields that are 10 to 20 percent less than normal, Gravois said. Despite this, he estimates the harvest will come close to its five-year average of about 1.4 to 1.5 million tons of raw sugar.

         For more information

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