Cane season less sweet after storms

Deidre Cruse

Louisiana sugarcane production was down eight percent this year compared to 2007 after hurricanes Gustav and Ike, but the damage was light compared to other crops.

Despite the damage, the state’s production of an estimated 11.7 million net tons cane for sugar and seed still accounted for more than a third of U. S. production last year, according to the Louisiana Field Office of the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Farmers harvested an estimated 405,000 acres, a four percent decrease from 2007, with a net yield of 29 net tons an acre, a decrease of 1.4 net tons from the 2007 yield.

The storm damage to cane crops was negligible compared to those of other crops, especially cotton and soybeans.

“Crop yields were beginning to reach levels when compared to the 2007 crop year,” said Nathan Crisp of the Louisiana Field Office, “but heavy rains and wind damages from hurricanes Gustav and Ike diminished crop yields, and in some cases crops had to be abandoned because of the impact of the severe weather.”

Compared to 2007, the state’s cotton production was down by 60 percent last year, the lowest production since 1946; soybean production fell by 22 percent; rice production, by 16 percent; corn for grain, 38 percent, and sweet potato production, by 63 percent.

The statistics service released the information last week in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and the LSU Agricultural Center.