2020 appears solid for sugar crop harvest

Staff Report
A robust harvest is expected for the 2020 harvest season at Cora-Texas Sugar Mill.

Hurricanes and a pandemic presented their share of hurdles for farmers this year, but the 2020 harvest season promises to be robust for Cora-Texas Sugar Mill.

The ongoing harvest, which began in September, has the makings of a robust season, according to Charlie Schudmak, chief operating officer for Cora Texas.

“It’s going well,” he said. “It’s been a better year, maybe better than average.”

Schudmak projects that that the plan will grind 1.85 million tons this season, which is not far off the record set in 2018.

A record hurricane season, which included five Louisiana landfalls, triggered concerns of a disappointing harvest for some farmers.

The season created problems for farmers the southwestern portion of Louisiana, but it has not had any adverse effect on Iberville Parish, Schudmak said.

The harvest bodes well for the plant along La. 1 just south of White Castle, which has been owned by the Kessler, Gilbert, and Dugas families since 1927. There has been a sugar mill on the site since 1827.

“We got a half an inch of rain here or there, but nothing that caused any problems,” he said. “We’ve been very fortunate.”

As part of the process, workers chop and crush cane, and juice is boiled down to a thick syrup, which is separated into sugar crystals and molasses.

Raw sugar is sold to refineries, which melt sugar into crystals, remove impurities and produce refined sugar.

Cora is one of only 11 refineries remaining in Louisiana, which had 1,300 mills prior to the Civil War. Free trade agreements in the early over the last 30 years – including the North American and Central American free trade agreements – have forced closure of seven refineries statewide, including Cinclare in Brusly.

Louisiana is one of only three states that produce cane sugar. The others are Florida and Texas.