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Agronomist Katie Richard joins ASCL staff

Agronomist Katie Richard

The American Sugar Cane League has been providing research, governmental and public relations guidance for the Louisiana sugar industry for 102 years. Our partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture and Louisiana State University has produced positive results. Over the last 40 years, sugarcane acreage has increased 93 percent and overall tons of raw sugar by an astonishing 293 percent. We believe the continuity and consistency of our research team comprised of League, USDA and LSU AgCenter scientists are a big part of sugarcane’s success.

The newest addition to our research staff is agronomist Katie Authement Richard. Under the supervision of research director Atticus Finger, Richard will work with the League’s research team by collecting and collating field data from the Mississippi River and Bayou Lafourche sugarcane growing regions to prepare information that is jointly shared with the USDA Agricultural Service Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma and the LSU AgCenter.

Richard received her bachelor’s degree in agricultural business-production from Nicholls State University in 2010 and has been employed as an agricultural research technician at the USDA-ARS Sugarcane Research Unit since 2011. She has done extensive and detailed work in the area of soil science under the supervision of Dr. Richard Johnson and is a certified Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 drone pilot, the first such pilot in the Louisiana agricultural field. She is also knowledgeable and certified by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry in the areas of proscribed burning, pesticide application and field scouting. She will complete the LSU AgCenter Leadership and Development Program in January 2025.

The League is fortunate to get someone with Katie’s skill set to join our staff. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in sugarcane research and production and has been recognized by her peers as someone who is diligent and efficient in her work.

While we welcome Richard to the staff, we will miss the exemplary service of Herman Waguespack Jr., the League’s director of research. He has retired after a 39 year sugarcane career.

Herman ably stepped into the position when Windell Jackson retired in 2014. Certainly, Herman was well qualified. He began his employment with the League as an agronomist in 1985 and was part of the teams that released more than 20 new sugarcane varieties to the industry. His knowledge and experience helped to formulate many new recommendations for our growers. His Cane Talk column in the League’s Sugar Bulletin was filled with astute observations of the cane belt, gentle reminders to practice best management practices and abundant thanks to all who contributed to the research. His selfless nature would not allow him to take much credit for sugarcane’s success. He has always been the quintessential team player and never thought of himself as the MVP he truly is.

Agronomist Herman Waguespack Jr. in the sugarcane field.

It was Herman and the League’s good fortune to have the guidance of the late Jackson who came on board in 1973 when the League still had its office in downtown New Orleans in the Whitney Bank building. Then, League manager Gilbert Durbin hired Windell on the recommendation of League president Jimmy Thibaut and League agronomist Lloyd Lauden. Lauden was the first agronomist the League hired back in 1952.

People like Waguespack, Jackson, Lauden, Thibaut, Durbin and the many others who preceded them discovered and passed on the research knowledge that is so vital to the sugarcane industry.

The League is grateful for Herman’s dedication to sugarcane, and we thank him for his service.

On July 1, Atticus Finger stepped into the role of League research director. He’s been with us since 2015. He will be backed up by senior agronomist Wilson Judice and Katie Richard. We are certain Finger, Judice and Richard will continue and advance the remarkable work of those that came before them.

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