Few people know both sugarcane and sugarbeets as well as Charley Richard (pronounced Ree-shard) of New Orleans, Louisiana, who works in both the beet and cane side of the American sugar industry.
Roughly half of sugar grown in the United States comes from sugarbeets and the other half comes from sugarcane. Sugar, or sucrose, is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables and other agricultural crops, but at greater levels from sugarbeets and sugarcane. While the sugar from beets and cane is identical, the two plants are very different. Few people know both crops as well as Charley Richard (pronounced Ree-shard) of New Orleans, Louisiana, who works in both the beet and cane side of the American sugar industry.
By AgWeek Reporter Laura Rutherford
Richard grew up on the Greenwood and Orange Grove Plantations near Thibodaux, Louisiana, both of which were owned by Southdown Sugars. His father was a farmer and plantation overseer for the company, and his grandfather was a mechanic. Richard’s favorite childhood memories include riding his bicycle through the cane fields, fishing in the canals, and riding on a plow pulled by a mule.
Richard’s father worked outside all year in heat and cold. After Richard graduated from high school, his mother suggested he go into accounting or some other occupation in a climate-controlled building.
“However, I chose to go into agriculture, knowing this was my calling,” Richard said. “I was determined to work toward making life easier and more efficient for sugarcane farmers through better varieties and management practices.”