SUGAR

Trucks were being loaded with cut sugarcane in Ricohoc on Tuesday.
(The Daily Review Photo by Crystal Thielepape)

By ZACHARY FITZGERALD zfitzgerald@daily-review.com

Early reports indicate the state’s sugar cane harvest will be about average after initial concerns that the cold weather earlier in the year may have led to a sub-par crop, American Sugar Cane League Manager Jim Simon said.
“Prices have moved up for us here in the last six months,” Simon said. “But our mills have not been able to sell into those better prices.” The sugar business prices the crop over a 12-month cycle, he said.
Consequently, this year is going to be a low-price year for sugarcane farmers, he said. “It does encourage growers to look at different ways to remain financially sound with that comes the need, on occasion, for folks to double-crop and grow other crops,” Simon said. Soybeans are one crop that farmers will sometimes plant alongside sugarcane, he said.
In March, the league filed a petition against Mexico alleging that Mexico was dumping sugar into the U.S. market, Simon said. In August, some preliminary duties were set on imported Mexican sugar of about 15 percent of the value the product, which will tighten the supply of Mexican sugar in the market and help improve prices, he said.
The price of sugar rose by about 2.5 cents per pound after the petition was filed, Simon said.
Officials were concerned with this year’s crop due to the prolonged, cool spring and the severe winter that damaged the root stock in the ground, Simon said. However, the early reports are showing the crop is going to be decent, Simon said.
“We were kind of almost expecting a below average crop, but it appears as though, with these early reports, that we’ll have an average crop,” Simon said. Early reports also show that sugar content in the sugarcane is slightly above the normal percentage, he said.
Sugarcane farmer Mike Accardo, of Patterson, said he will have to plant double-crop next year and plant soybeans due to the low prices farmers are getting for sugar cane, but he did not plant soybeans this year.
Accardo was late planting sugarcane this year due to the rain, and just began harvesting his crop Friday hauling the crop to Sterling Sugars in Franklin, which did not begin to take sugar cane until Friday, he said.
“It’s slow because they don’t start off wide open. They go gradually,” Accardo said. “Today (Tuesday) is the first day we hauled 100 percent over there.”
It is too early to predict how Accardo’s harvest is going to be, he said. “The sugar’s pretty decent, but like I said, we’re just four days into the harvest so it’s kind of hard to tell yet.”
Accardo started planting around the last week of August and finished planting about three weeks ago, he said. “Normally, everybody tries to start about the middle of August, but it was kind of wet so we waited until about the last week,” Accardo said. Accardo and his cousin are the only sugarcane farmers in Patterson, he said. Accardo farms from the Harry P. Williams Memorial Airport to by Patterson High School and across the Lower Atchafalaya River in Patterson almost to Calumet, he said.

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