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Sugarcane crop rebounds from icy winter

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ROSEDALE - Halfway through harvesting, sugarcane experts say Louisiana's on track for a record sugar recovery.

This year started off difficult with cold weather. Ideally sugarcane farmers want a warm winter, rainy summer and a dry fall. However, an icy winter hurt sugarcane already planted in the ground, but a wet summer and a dry fall made the cane in the field sweeter.

"Well for us it's really good cause it helps us on our bottom line," said farmer Clayton Hurdle. "It's less expenses in a dry harvest and the sugar's higher, so the income's better."

While the tonnage of sugarcane per acre isn't something to brag about, the stalks of the cane are packed with sweet sugar, according to experts from the LSU AgCenter.

"We want a lot of tonnage, but we want a lot of sugar in that tonnage. So our tonnage is really about average, but our sugar content is excellent," said Kenneth Gravois of the AgCenter. "We needed some months where we could get some great growth. Then we need clear weather and sunshine to really pack sugar into the stalks, and we had that through September and October."

Dry weather so far this fall makes getting sugarcane out of the fields easier. That has farmers thanking Mother Nature for the rebound this year.

"You know being farmers we have to take what we're given as far as the weather. It's a big key in what we do out here. It's the one factor that we can't change," said Hurdle.

Gravois says the price of sugar will stay around 23 cents per pound this year.

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