Muddy harvest – Rain and more rain during the 2018 grinding season is leaving field roads and crop rows deeply rutted which will require more work – and expense – for growers during spring operations.(Karl Jeter)
Tonnage up, yield down as farmers contend with mud
Cane farmers are not getting much of a holiday break as grinding will probably continue until about January 15, LaSuCa media representative John Hebert told the Teche News last week. That will put the end of grinding about one week later than last year
With mill improvements, Hebert anticipates that the cane processed at the St. John mill will total about 1.5 million tons, up from 1.32 million tons for the 2017 harvest. But the sugar yield is running below the average for the past five years, mostly due to rapid growth late in the cycle and the November freeze.
The two effects should just about cancel each other out, Hebert says, resulting in similar production totals to last year. With market prices holding stable, it looks like another successful year for the area’s sugar industry despite the less than favorable weather through much of the harvest season.
And deep muck in area cane fields will mean higher overhead costs for growers when the time comes to prepare fields for spring operations. Farmers will have much more cultivation work than usual after the harvest.
Deeply rutted field roads will need to be graded to avoid holding water, and rows will require more reshaping than usual, all of which will take extra time and money.
More rain is in the forecast for late December/early January so the muddy conditions are not likely to improve much for the remainder of the 2018 harvest.