On eve of sugarcane harvest, farmers anxiously await results from months of labor

Updated: Sep. 16, 2019 at 6:48 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Sugarcane is one of Louisiana’s top money makers and ensures a way of life for farmers across the state.

Now, after a slow start to the year, sugarcane farmers anxiously await harvest.

"This crop started out, it was really slow, and actually it was slow until about three or four weeks ago,” said Cecil Ramagos, a third-generation sugarcane farmer.

Ramagos and his family take care of his roughly 1,000 acre farm.

Sugarcane farmer Cecil Ramagos inspects his crop as harvest looms near.
Sugarcane farmer Cecil Ramagos inspects his crop as harvest looms near.(WAFB)

Every year he puts his hopes into the ground and prays that the cane grows. This year it looked as if those prayers were not going to be answered.

“The first week of August it was really short,” Ramagos said. "It was almost to the point where it was too short, and we pushed through it and we got a rain after about the first week, week-and-a-half, and since then it has taken a good growth.”

According to the Louisiana Farm Bureau, the same growth has been seen across the state.

“Considering the spring and all, we had a really tough spring and all,” said Brian Breaux, Senior Commodity and Public Policy Director for the Louisiana Farm Bureau. “We had excess rain fall, cool conditions. The sugarcane was probably running behind for better part of the year. We’ve found that the sugar cane has caught up and we’re on the verge of planting.”

The outlook of a good crop is good news for farmers like Ramagos because prices for his product have not changed even though the costs of producing it have gone up drastically.

"Back when I started my farming career back in early 80s, [1981], we were getting almost the same price for sugar that we were getting three or four years ago,” Ramagos said. “And you know, our expenses have climbed ever since then.”

As with nearly everything else in farming, though, those prices are out of his control. So, Ramagos is just hoping the weather cooperates until the end of harvest and all of his crops are out of the ground.

"We get a lot of growth in September, October and it's all going to depend on the weather I guess,” he said.

Ramagos will begin his harvest next week.

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