Sugar crops improve after hurricane losses

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sugar, Sugarcane

Sugar production in Florida increased during the last crop year,
reaching "more normal" production levels after significant
losses during the string of hurricanes in recent years.

According to the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, sugar yields during the 2006-07-crop year improved from 10.5 percent last year to 11.5 percent, but fell short of the 2003-04 pre-hurricane yield of 11.7 percent. "Everything was looking really good for an excellent 2007-08 crop before the mid-February freeze when the young sugarcane took a hit,"​ said cooperative president George Wedgworth. "Now as the plants are trying to recover, we're faced with water shortages that are further stressing the plants. With some good luck from Mother Nature and our farmers' can-do attitude, we're hopeful that we'll have a good crop next year." ​The cooperative, which is made up of 49 grower-owners, said that during the 130 days harvest season, its members produced 2,759,191 tons of sugarcane grown on 60,998 acres in Palm Beach County. This yielded 323,327 short tons raw value (STRV) sugar and 15,921,345 gallons of blackstrap molasses. This compares to last year's production of 2,443,586 tons of cane producing 261,216 STRV sugar and 15 million gallons of blackstrap molasses. Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida harvests, transports and processes sugarcane. It then sells raw sugar to American Sugar Refining (ASR) - widely known as Domino - which it co-owns together with Florida Crystals Corporation. Refined sugar is then marketed nationwide through Domino Foods. Based in Yonkers, New York, ASR is the largest cane sugar refiner in the United States. Last month, it announced the acquisition of Tate & Lyle's Canadian sugar refining business. The move followed ASR's acquisition last year of Chr Hansen's speciality sweetener division. The transaction included the speciality sweetener product line of molasses, malt, rice syrup, oat extract, honey, and invert and fondant sugar, as well as production facilities in Louisiana and Illinois.

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