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Sugar factory operators hear updates on research

(04/11/22) ST. GABRIEL, La. — The LSU AgCenter and the American Sugar Cane League sponsored an annual informational seminar on sugar factory operations at the AgCenter Sugar Research Station in St. Gabriel on March 31.

In addition to an overview of the processing of the 2021 Louisiana sugarcane crop, a variety of other topics were discussed, said Gillian Eggleston, director of the Audubon Sugar Institute, which was founded in 1885.

by Johnny Morgan
LSU AgCenter

“We want them to know about the research that we are doing at Audubon, and this meeting brings the sugar factory operators together in one place,” Eggleston said.

AgCenter sugarcane researcher Stephania Imbachi Ordonez said her work is looking at ways to reduce scale deposits within the evaporator calandria tubes.

“Regular cleaning of the evaporators to remove scale during the grinding season is vital to the Louisiana sugar industry but is costly,” she said.

Her study shows that the characteristics of the scale that builds up in the tubes can affect the efficiency of the cleaning process.

Since 2001, the institute has been analyzing molasses provided weekly by each of Louisiana’s raw sugar factories. These results are used to calculate the recovery of sugar in the molasses.

AgCenter sugarcane researchers Tyrenee Foster and Chardcie Verret said the 2021 molasses survey will show a slight increase in the target purity difference — from 6.7 in 2020 to 7.6 for the 2021 season.

“They are in the business of selling raw sugar, and the lower the number is means they’re making more money. And the higher the number is, they are losing money somewhere in the process,” Verret said.

Other presentations included the importance of scheduled factory cleanings of evaporator tubes; sugar industry trends and improvements; differences in use of commercial filter aids; the effects of harvest temperature and rainfall on molasses purity; and other topics related to sugarcane factory operations.

AgCenter researcher Harold Birkett said the Louisiana raw cane sugar industry has expanded considerably and greatly improved its efficiency in the past 50 years.

“Cane acreage has increased by 60% while cane production has doubled, and sugar production has tripled,” he said. “During that period, cane acreage increased 58%, from 290,000 to about 459,000 acres.”

Eggleston said she was recently informed that she was awarded the Charles E. Coates 2021 Award, which will be presented at the upcoming American Chemical Society of Baton Rouge banquet on April 26 at Ashley Manor in Baton Rouge.

Coates served as the director of the Audubon Sugar Institute from 1897 to 1937, she said.

Research at Audubon helps the factories maintain purity and crystal size, improve the color of sugar and improve processing to keep the factories efficient.

For additional information about the Audubon Sugar Institute, contact Eggleston at 225-642-6902 or

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