"The sugar industry of Louisiana for nearly a century now is
the dominant industry of the state. The present higher prices for cotton
now make it a close competitor for leadership. Louisiana has become the
chief rice producing state of the union, and the total value of the
rice crop makes it one of our most conspicuous assets.
of corn, oats, hay and vegetables are all assuming greater proportions
every year, but still the sugar crop, owing to its concentration within
comparatively few parishes of the state, the magnitude of the sugar
factories and to the large amounts of capital necessary to carry on cane
culture and sugar manufacture, make it the most conspicuous, if not
actually the leading industry of our state.”
This assessment of
the local importance of sugar cane was written by John Dymond, and was
reprinted in the Louisiana Planter from the Sept. 1, 1906, New Orleans
It was especially true of Terrebonne and neighboring
parishes, where virtually all business was conducted on credit
throughout the year, with bills being paid from the influx of capital
at the sale of sugar after "rolling season.” Thus everyone was
interested in the week-to-week status of the sugar season.
The same issue of the Planter reprinted a review of the prospects for the 1906 sugar crop in Terrebonne Parish:
Henry Harlan, who has the reputation of being one of the best
plantation managers in this parish, has just returned from a tour of the
entire parish. Mr. Harlan's knowledge of cane raising having made him
fully competent to judge the condition of the cane crop, the Courier
requested him to give his opinion of the Terrebonne crop as it appears
"Mr. Harlan says: On Myrtle Grove plantation of Barrow
& Duplantis, the crop is very good with the exception of the second
year's stubble, which is rather thin in stand and backward in size.
Presquille plantation the crop is fine with the exception of the
succession plant cane, which is not exactly up in size. The crop has
been thoroughly cultivated and the prospects are fine for a good output.
Presquille on down on Bayou Terrebonne the crops as a rule are good,
and there is no evidence that there will be a shortage in the yield in
that section of the parish. On Little Caillou the crop is probably
slightly ahead of the Bayou Terrebonne crop, in stand and point of size,
which shows a satisfactory condition of affairs on that bayou.
the whole of Grand Caillou if there is a bad crop Mr. Harlan says that
he failed to see it, and the same thing can be said about Bayou DuLarge.
The crops on the Marmande plantation, Bayou DuLarge and McCollam &
Cocke's Bull Run plantation, Chacahoula, are the finest that Mr. Harlan
has seen this year. On upper Bayou Black the crop compares very well
with the average crop, and on Greenwood plantation. Lower Bayou Black,
the cane on the front, Mr. Harlan says, is the best he has ever seen on
"Altogether, Mr. Harlan says, there seems no
reason why the planters should complain of this year's crop, and
considering the long drought, during the spring and early summer, when
there were seventy days of dry weather. Mr. Harlan thinks that the 1906
crop in Terrebonne is exceptionally good.”
Harlan's report was first printed in the Sept. 1, 1906, Houma Courier.
Unfortunately, existing microfilm of the Courier does not include any issues from 1906.
Dymond's assessment of the 1906 sugar industry concluded with a comparison to the enterprise before the Civil War:
1861 there were probably more acres in sugar cane than today. The
industry was considered to be in a very satisfactory condition, the
sugar plantations generally in a high state of improvement, the labor
supply adequate and the industry profitable and a pronounced success.
the annihilation of the sugar industry by the civil war and its very
slow recovery and the floods and continued crevasses in the levees, even
after their temporary restoration, made the sugar planter's career a
very checkered one.
"Supreme efforts were then made to
rehabilitate the levee system, to prevent the frequent crevasses and to
put the industry upon a surer foundation. A series of levee conventions
were called by Governor McEnery, in 1881 or 1882; levee districts were
created and a general recovery began at about that time.
have lost in the efficiency of labor as compared with antebellum
conditions is now largely compensated for with our modern agricultural
machinery, which enables sugar planters to do with mule power what
formerly required a large amount of hand work.
distinct progress that we have made is the wonderful advance in the
manufacturing side of the sugar cane industry. The gradual improvement
in our sugar machinery and increasing strength of our cane mills and the
greater care exercised all along the line to prevent waste have
resulted in a gradual increase in the average production per ton of
In the century since, the local economy shifted to the oil
patch, with Terrebonne losing its last two refineries, at Southdown and
at Montegut, and vast tracts for former sugar cane fields, replaced by