Matthew Puts Damper On Sugarcane Harvest

4/26/2005 8:28:21 PM

News Release Distributed 10/13/04

Heavy weekend rains from Tropical Storm Matthew have been responsible for losses to sugarcane farmers and mills in Louisiana, according to a sugarcane specialist with the LSU AgCenter.

Dr. Ben Legendre said this week (Oct. 12) that farmers are facing lower quality in the cane they’re harvesting and mills are running slower because of additional foreign matter in the material they receive from the growers.

Legendre said farmers are facing the problems of creating ruts in wet fields as well as potential equipment breakdowns because of slower going through the mud.

But because chemical ripeners already had been applied to the growing crop, farmers are compelled to harvest as much as they can to avoid financial losses.

Sugar mills also face losses as processing slowed down or even ground to a halt as sugarcane deliveries dropped off because of slowdowns in the fields.

"Expenses are up, and quality is down," Legendre said.

He said sugarcane stalks in some fields have fallen over and will be difficult to harvest without some losses – as much as 8 percent or 9 percent in some fields.

"This means increased cost of harvesting," Legendre said. "Plus, the growers will be leaving cane in the field."

The LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist said this year’s sugarcane crop was already under stress from an extremely wet spring followed by an unusually dry summer. Those issues came on top of carryover problems associated with storm damage in 2002.

"Fields that were planted before 2002 experienced damage from harvesting in mud," Legendre said. "Then fields that were planted in 2002 suffered because of all the rain. And fields planted last year had to go through the wet spring and dry summer this year."

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Contact: Ben Legendre at (225) 642-0224 or blegendre@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

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