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LSU AgCenter endowed chair to support sugarcane production

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American Sugar Cane LeagueThe American Sugar Cane League has endowed an LSU AgCenter chair in sugar production.

The American Sugar Cane League Chair in Sugar Production will support faculty members who demonstrate excellence in research areas related to improving the productivity, profitability and sustainability of the production segment of the Louisiana sugar industry.

Jim Simon, general manager of the American Sugar Cane League, said research has always been an important tool for the sugarcane industry.

"We’ve essentially doubled our sugar production over the past 40 years. But to continue that success, we need to have a hyper-focused research chair to stay abreast of new technologies in the digital age,” Simon said.

Simon envisions the researcher who occupies the chair will work on issues primarily focused on developing new and improved sugarcane varieties by using genomics and other technologies no one could have dreamed of 40 years ago.

Before this endowment, the AgCenter did not have any chairs that directly support sugar production research.

"An endowed chair for a faculty member is one of the most prestigious appointments at any college or campus,” said Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture. "Having an endowed chair with the purpose of supporting sugar production research and innovation will allow us to recruit and retain the very best scientists.”

The relationship between the LSU AgCenter and the American Sugar Cane League dates back to 1926, when an agreement was made among the league, the AgCenter and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"We’ve successfully grown sugarcane here for more than two centuries. Having LSU AgCenter researchers providing the scientific skill to improve the crop has been invaluable,” Simon said. "There is no doubt the LSU AgCenter Sugar Research Station and Audubon Sugar Institute in St. Gabriel have delivered for Louisiana sugarcane.”

This makes the second sugarcane research endowment created at LSU in the last month. Last week, LSU AgCenter announced that the family of Benjamin Legendre and members of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ASSCT) created the Benjamin L. Legendre Sugar Heritage ASSCT Professorship, which will support LSU AgCenter faculty and LSU College of Agriculture students.

Story by Tobie Blanchard

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