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Assumption Parish cane farmers want safe harvest; ask public for cooperation

Assumption Parish Farm Bureau and its sugarcane farmers would like to remind everyone that harvest season will be starting soon. Both sugar mills (Lula Sugar Factory, Belle Rose and Westfield Sugar Factory, Paincourtville) in our parish expect to open the week of September 26. The crop in the field looks promising so it seems like it will be a ninety-plus day harvest. Collectively, both mills are expecting to process around 2.1 million tons of sugarcane. That would be 76,000 truckloads this harvest season or 840 loads of cane each day that has to make it from the farmers’ fields to the mills.

By Lance Gaudet
Woods Farm, Inc.

Harvest season is a seven-day-a-week operation that continues until the last stalk of sugarcane crosses the scales and is turned into sugar. Adverse weather conditions such as rain and fog are a couple of things that make it difficult for farmers and truck drivers to do their job without affecting others traveling on the same highways. At some point, the cane has to get out of the field and get onto the highway to make it to the sugar mills. In wet conditions, mud may get on the highway when leaving the loading sites from the field. Each grower does their very best to clean mud off the highway and put signs to warn of upcoming hazards. If you see signs where there is an activity with cane trucks and tractors please use caution and reduce speed in those areas. When fog is an issue the cane trucks on the road will be traveling at a much slower pace. Please give yourself extra time to get to where you need to be.

In the sugarcane fields, almost every farmer has problems with all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) riding in their fields. With the sugarcane being tall and a lot more activity in the fields it can be deadly for anyone riding an ATV in the field. Do not ride where you are not permitted to ride because all it takes is a tractor, truck or even a harvester to be coming out of the field onto a road where an ATV is traveling and the two collide.

We have been growing sugarcane in this parish for over 100 years and for us to continue to do so we need to work with each other during this season and every harvest season to make it a safe and successful harvest. Sometimes there will be mud on the highway and sometimes you will get stuck behind a slow cane truck or tractor traveling on the highway. Just remember that our sugar mills and farmers are doing the best they can to get this crop in so you can have sugar in your home and numerous other homes in the United States.

After the last sugarcane stalk gets delivered to the sugar mill and all the sugar is extracted, both of the sugar mills in Assumption Parish are expecting to make roughly 500 million pounds of sugar. That is enough to provide sugar for the whole state of Louisiana’s citizens for the whole year.

Stay safe and good luck with this harvest.

Be sure to share these safety tips with your family, friends and staff.

Be alert and cautious. And give large farm equipment and other slow-moving vehicles space.

Do not pass if you are in a space designated as a “No Passing Zone” or in any area that is not safe to do so—intersections, bridges and railroad crossings, among others.

Make sure the tractor isn’t trying to make a left turn before you pass on the left.

Expect farm equipment to take wider turns and even have to use both lanes at times.

Don’t tailgate. Give yourself space between your vehicle and the slow-moving vehicle ahead of you.

Don’t assume the farmer knows you’re there.

Be careful when you do get the chance to pass. Farmers will often move their equipment over when it is safe to do so.

Unsafe road conditions can be reported to the Louisiana State Police at *LSP (*577)

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