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Hoping for a sweet sugar season - HoumaToday.com - 9/4/2015 -

HoumaToday.comIf 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.

The 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.

Ramagos Harvest in White CastleIn 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.

And 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.

There 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.

The 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.

"Pricing 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.

Altogether, 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 weather patterns.

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.

The 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



 

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