If you drive more than a mile or two in our area, you are bound to see a field of sugar cane. At least one.
We are surrounded by sugar. It is our most important agricultural product, by far.
The planting, the cultivating, the harvesting, the grinding and the selling of sugar are all big business for our region.
We all should hope that our local farmers have sweet success every year with their crops.
sugar farmers in this part of the world aren't new to the activity.
They have been doing this for generations. So their success or failure
from one year to the next is not a matter of luck or happenstance.
It can be, though, a matter of the weather.
In years past, heavy rains or winds at the wrong time have sapped crops of their value.
At other times, an ill-timed cold snap could do the same.
there is always the danger of price fluctuations that can make
difference between a great year, a mediocre year and a down year.
As the farmers start to take stock of this year's crop, local observers are wishing them the best.
For now, at least, they are enjoying good weather.
has been some rain, but not as much as some summers have brought. While
that has helped their work at present, it might be a hindrance to the
overall success of the crop.
"Unfortunately, we had a wet spring
and a dry summer, and the cane hasn't grown as much as we'd like," said
Jim Simon, general manager of the Thibodaux-based American Sugar Cane
League. "All in all we're having a pretty good planting season."
That is welcome news for locals who want nothing but the best for our farmers.
trick now is that farmers are hoping for rain between now and the end
of the growing season — probably sometime next month. But they don't
want any bad storms, which could devastate the crops.
Once the growing ends and the harvesting and grinding are done, the farmers must rely on fair prices to complete the process.
That, they say, is looking up from some down prices in recent years.
is OK. It's not where we would like it, but it's better than it has
been or better than it was some two years ago," Simon said.
it is a much more complicated picture than the idyllic scenes of sugar
cane fields might suggest. There is a global economy at play, as well as
And simple courtesy and caution play a part as
well. Between now and the end of the year, our roads will see many sugar
trucks helping in the harvesting or grinding of the cane.
rest of us have to take these trucks as part of our local economy. We
shouldn't speed around them or honk our horns. Those drivers are at work
and doing the best for a local industry. Let's respect them and make
sure they — and we — make it home safely.
Here's to a sweet sugar season.
Photo by Sally Ramagos