In yet another sign that our society is inching back to a pre-pandemic “normal,” the LSU AgCenter hosted a sugarcane field day in Pointe Coupee Parish the first week of June.
It was the first in-person field day for sugarcane since the pandemic began. More than 60 producers, consultants and other interested parties were hosted by producer Joby Beaud at his shop on Labarre Road near Morganza. Beaud farms 3,000 acres
The Pointe Coupee gathering was significant because it was the first sugarcane field day in living memory for the parish. Acreage in sugarcane cultivation has increased substantially in the parish over the last decade and Pointe Coupee is now the largest sugarcane-producing parish in the state. To illustrate the rapid growth, 38,000 acres were devoted to cane in 2011. Today, total Pointe Coupee cane acreage has increased to 66,556.
Beaud attributed price stability and the 100-year-old variety development program built by the United States Department of Agriculture, LSU AgCenter and the American Sugarcane League for the cane gain in Pointe Coupee and the other parishes that make up the northern end of the cane belt. He said LSU AgCenter County Agent Mark Carriere approached him about hosting the field day.
“My farm was ideal to host a field day,” Beaud said. “My farm is part of the research program as an outfield variety test location and a secondary station for variety development. Hosting a field day would allow the area farmers to come see the new varieties and hear the researchers talk about their past year’s work.”
The newer Pointe Coupee cane producers as well as the established ones began asking Carriere to create a field day for their parish. They were anxious to see the 2021 variety releases, L 14-267 and HoCP 14-885
“They wanted to learn more about the new varieties, so they asked me to organize one,” Carriere said. “I got LSU sugarcane specialist Dr. Kenneth Gravois, weed scientist Dr. Al Orgeron and Atticus Finger of the League to come and make presentations. Sunshine Quality Solutions provided a meal for the group., so all in all, it was a good meeting.”
Carrier added that there will be new weed management protocols in place for their area, so it was important for Dr. Orgeron to talk about the available herbicides. Farmers also had a convenient opportunity to renew their burn management certifications, he said.
Carriere thinks an annual sugarcane field day for Pointe Coupee will be offered now that it is the state’s largest sugarcane producer.
Other sugarcane field days will be hosted in Assumption Parish on July 13; the St. Martin, Lafayette, St. Landry and Acadia meet is on July 16. In the St. Mary, Iberia and Vermillion area, the field day is on July 27 while the annual St. James Parish Appreciation Supper is scheduled for July 28. The meeting season wraps up with a July 29 for the Avoyelles-Rapides area in Alexandria. The location and times can be found at www.LSUAgCenter.com/topics/crops/sugarcane/calendar webpage.
While the field days are excellent places for farmers to interact with the researchers, landowners could also benefit by attending the meetings. Cane farmers own about 25 percent of their land and rent the rest. There is some benefit for a landowner to learn more about how farmers grow and harvest sugarcane.
The sugarcane field days have come to be a tradition in south Louisiana and most of the field days are more than 50 years old. In addition to the scientific knowledge exchanged, they are always a source for fellowship and camaraderie.