Dry planting weather among factors in record sugar harvest

Dry weather at planting time is one reason Louisiana’s recent sugar cane harvest is expected to set a record at almost 2 million tons of sugar once grinding of cane is completed, LSU AgCenter officials said.

The harvest will average 232 pounds of sugar per ton of cane, sugar cane specialist Kenneth Gravois said, and 8,350 pounds per acre.

Gravois said most of the planting was done by the time Hurricane Laura hit in August. The harvest began in September and continued for almost 125 straight days in some areas.

Stuart Gauthier, the LSU AgCenter agent in St. Martin Parish, said farmers in that area are pleased with the 2020 results. Tonnage there averaged 34 to 36 tons per acre with an average yield of 220 pounds of sugar per ton of cane.

“For a lot of our farmers, it will be one of the better years,” Gauthier said.

Blair Hebert, agent in Iberia Parish, said there were losses in areas along the coast from storm damage, but most farmers are pleased with their outcome.

“This crop has certainly surpassed the yields that I thought it would make after the tropical weather,” Hebert said in the LSU AgCenter release.

Al Orgeron, LSU AgCenter sugarcane pest specialist, said the crop in the River Parishes and in the Houma-Thibodaux area did well, with “minimal impact” from hurricanes.