by Rick Bogren, LSU AgCenter contributor
Louisiana sugarcane producers are wrapping up one of their best seasons ever.
"Last year was the best Louisiana crop ever by far," said LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist Kenneth Gravois. "In comparison, this year's crop doesn't look as good. But the 2013 crop would rank as one of the top five in Louisiana history."
Louisiana has 11 sugarcane mills that grind cane and produce raw sugar from early fall through midwinter. This season, the last mill will finish grinding on Jan. 10.
A relatively wet fall made harvest more difficult, Gravois said. A freeze on November 28-30 hit hardest north of I-10. But mills worked together and processed most of the affected crop before the cane started to deteriorate.
"A cool December helped prevent additional deterioration, so the cane 'kept,'" Gravois said. Growers lost little of their crop.
Tonnage was good – about 34 tons per acre. The cane produced about 220 pounds of sugar per ton.
All harvest following the January freeze will be completed before any significant deterioration, Gravois said.
"We had a good planting season," he said. "Spring will tell, but we don't anticipate any problems of cane coming back from the freezes. New varieties have good cold tolerance for overwintering."
Acres were up from the past year, Gravois said. This year, farmers raised about 440,000 acres and harvested about 410,000 acres for sugar. The balance of the acreage was harvested for seed cane.