Raising sugarcane is south Louisiana way of life positioned for growth

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(Daily Advertiser)-  America’s love affair with sugar continues, Louisiana sugarcane production is expected to feed its voracious appetite, closing in on 500,000 acres, experts say.

But it’s harder to say what this year’s harvest will yield.

“A lot of things go into a good crop,”  said Kenneth Gravois, LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist. “Weather from here on out is the first thing.”

Last year’s weather is another important part, as cane farmers get multiple harvests from a single planting, Gravois explained. So harvesting in the rain and mud last year could hurt Louisiana growers.

“The rough harvest last fall … could have a negative impact on this year’s yield,” Gravois said.

But he still thinks there will be a good crop this fall, as locally developed varieties of sugarcane have been bred to grow in these harsh conditions.

Meanwhile, “there’s room for us to grow,” he said. With new processing facilities and near-guarantees of profits, farmers across Louisiana, particularly in and around Acadiana, can count on the crop to deliver, Gravois said.

“Last year’s total was 460,000 acres in the state,” he said. “It’s just conjecture — it’s hit 500,000 acres before with a brief peak. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it bumped up to the 500,000-acre mark again.”

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