USDA predicts national sugar shortage; Louisiana sugar cane farmers say production is good

Louisiana

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates sugar production will decline by half a million tons this year.

Local sugar cane farmer, Eddie Lewis, said when he started harvesting sugar cane this season the conditions were dry. When it started raining more, however, that made harvesting harder.

“The rain came in and it got a little sloppy,” Lewis said.

Despite the rain, Lewis said he does not expect there to be a sugar cane shortage in Louisiana.

“Last year it was 36 to 38 tons to the acre. I’m thinking this year it’s probably going to be north of 34 tons, 35 tons to the acre,” Lewis added.

Lewis said crop yields are average right now but added that colder temperatures are helping the sugar cane grow.

“It’s starting to get a little bit better, especially with the recent freeze. That’s almost like a natural ripener. It makes the cane a whole lot sweeter,” Lewis said.

While the USDA predicts the country will produce less sugar compared to last year, Lewis said harvest season is only halfway over.

“If the demand for sugar goes up, we can definitely put more acres in sugar production. We definitely have that capability,” Lewis said.

The USDA will announce how much more sugar the country will need to produce to meet the national demand by December 10.

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