Louisiana sugar farmers hope slightly better prices will help them break even this season

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THIBODAUX, Louisiana — South Louisiana sugar cane farmers and processors hope to break even this season.

Last year was a complete loss, Greg Nolan, general manager of Lafourche Sugars Corp. in Thibodaux, told The Daily Comet (http://bit.ly/1JWzpec). He said he hopes this year will be better.

Jim Simon, general manager of the American Sugar Cane League in Thibodaux, said the statewide outlook is about the same: Farmers hope to break even.

This year's season was about 90 days, down from more than 100 last year, said Wallace Ellender IV, co-owner of Ellender Farms in Bourg.

Simon said the Arctic freeze also hurt this year's crop.

"It's adversely affected the stubble in the ground. Therefore, it has made this year's crop not as productive," Simon said.

Last year's crop was excellent, but record imports caused the lowest prices in decades — about 21 cents a pound. That's nearly as low as it was in the 1980s, Ellender said.

The price is now 25 to 27 cents a pound — not enough for a significant profit, Ellender said.

"If you were making what you were making in the 1980s, it's tough to make it now," he said. "It's just got to go up."

Nolan said this year's crop is 10 to 15 percent off for area farmers.

Waguespack said the 867 acres he harvests usually yield 36 to 38 tons per acre, but this year will yield 32 to 33 tons per acre. "It was cold late spring and crops didn't grow as tall as we like," he said.

However, he noted, his sugar content per ton is about 10 percent up from was last year.


Information from: Daily Comet, http://www.dailycomet.com

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