Seedling planting 2021
Those seeds are planted at the experimental farms, numerically identified, and monitored for 12 years. Each plant, subject to all the conditions Louisiana’s weather can throw at it, is potentially a new cane variety. Many don’t make it through the first year. Each subsequent year, some plants are selected for expansion and advance through the culling process. Varieties chosen for expansion are planted on sugarcane land managed by volunteer growers who maintain the experimental plots exactly like the rest of their commercial crop. Researchers harvest the experimental varieties and keep track of their ability to make sugar, regrow (stubble), survive cold and resist disease.
At the end of the 12-year process, a League committee of researchers, growers and millers decide if any of the experimental varieties will be released to the commercial sugarcane industry. Last year, one new variety was approved. This year, two are slated for release. Sometimes, none make the final cut. Currently, the League variety development committee is studying the 2020 variety development results.
In 2020, we produced nearly two million tons of sugar, a record amount. It means the sugarcane variety development program is working and Louisiana remains a leader in sugar production.