(09/17/19) BATON ROUGE, La. — Sugarcane and the Gay family are intertwined with the landscape of south Louisiana. Since the 1850s, the family has farmed the area, with sugarcane being the dominant crop. In order to keep this industry viable, the Gay family is endowing a second professorship and creating an internship for work in sugarcane variety development.
The Andrew Price Gay Jr. and John Fleming Gay Professorship in Sugarcane Variety Development was established by family members Nancy Gay See, Andrew P. Gay Jr., Barbara Gay Rice and John Fleming Gay, along with the Edward J. Gay Planting & Manufacturing Co., L.L.C. The recipient of the endowed professorship will be a faculty member working in sugarcane research with a preference for efforts involving sugarcane breeding and variety development.
“We’ve spent our life raising sugarcane, so we know the importance of new varieties,” Andrew Price Gay Jr. said. “You need a new source because these varieties play out.”
The combine harvester allowed researchers to look at higher-yielding varieties that the soldier harvester was incapable of harvesting. These varieties have revolutionized the sugar industry for the past 20 years, Gay said.
“We’ve seen them come. We’ve seen them go,” he said. “Our family wants to do everything we can to continue good research and provide the tools they need.”
The Esmond Phelps Gay Internship Award in Sugarcane Variety Development was created to encourage young people to get involved in sugarcane research. The internship is named for Esmond Phelps Gay, the president of the Edward J. Gay Planting & Manufacturing Co., L.L.C.
“I didn’t expect it, and I am truly honored,” Phelps Gay said. “We felt that they could use some help to assist at the Sugar Research Station.”
The internship is open to any high school or college student working in the sugarcane variety development program at the LSU AgCenter Sugar Research Station in St. Gabriel. The internship will provide an opportunity to see how sugarcane varieties are developed and will involve working during four summers.