To the uninformed, Cora Texas Manufacturing Company near White Castle looks like most plants in Iberville Parish.
Except for the line of sugar cane trucks during the 100-day period farmers and employees of Cora Tex call “the grind.”
On inside, it’s a steamy maze of pipes of all sizes going hither and yonder to tanks of all sorts and sizes.
To Buckley Kessler, though, and his employees and most sugar farmers, the workings of the mill are as familiar as the back of their hands.
Each one of the line of trucks is weighed as it comes in the yard, said Kessler, the general manager of Cora Tex and the person most familiar with the workings of the sugar mill.
Technicians take samples from about 40 percent of the 700 or so trailers filled with cane that come to Cora Tex. That is done, Kessler said, “so they know exactly how much sugar is in that ton of cane.”
It is that percentage, coupled with weight, that determines the percentage of the raw sugar each landlord and farmer receives from their crop.
“We’re predicting in the lab how much sugar is in each farmer’s cane and when we factor in what we call a liquidation factor, which confirms precisely our predictions,” Kessler said.
He said the laboratory is so finely tuned as to nail the percentage of sugar correctly in all but less than one percent of the cane taken in daily.
Then the trucks proceed to an unloading dock, where the truck is disconnected from the trailer, then the trailer is tilted over and all of its cane dumped into a bin, Kessler said.
“We bring in cane 24 hours a day,” he continued, and the mill runs constantly from start to finish of the grind.
“Once we dump it into the factory then we run it through three sets of knives to try to rupture and expose all the fiber the cane contains,” Kessler said. “That makes it easy for the mills to squeeze it out.”
When as much juice is extracted from the cane as possible, he said the juice makes its way to one mill then another.
(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles describing the process of turning pelletized sugar cane into raw sugar through the process Cora Tex uses.)