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Sugarcane Field Day Season is Here!

In Louisiana, we have many seasons. There is summer, of course, which seems to last all year sometimes. Then there’s football season, duck hunting season, Mardi Gras and crawfish season.

In the Louisiana sugarcane agricultural world, we are entering into the field day season. Sugarcane farmers have done all their lay-by work and are now maintaining their crop with fertilizer and pesticide applications as necessary. In late July and August, they’ll begin planting seedcane. So in between the lay-by and planting seasons when the work is not too frantic, the United States Department of Agriculture and the LSU AgCenter begin hosting the sugarcane field day season.

What’s a field day? It’s a meeting when sugarcane scientists invite stakeholders to the research farms to discuss their work. This year there are eight field days at regional locations throughout the cane belt. Even though Pointe Coupee is now the state’s largest sugarcane-producing parish, it has only been hosting field days for three years. How did Pointe Coupee become a big cane producer? A lot of it has to do with the quality of the research. The sugarcane variety breeding program built by the 100-year-old three-way partnership between the USDA, LSU AgCenter and the American Sugar Cane League has produced outstanding cane varieties that are cold tolerant and make a lot of sugar. The stability of the sugarcane market has also enticed new growers to grow cane.

Herman Waguespack Jr., the League’s director of research, said all farmers should attend the field days.

“Field days give growers a chance to see firsthand the great work and latest research the scientists are doing on their behalf,” Waguespack said. “They visit with the researchers and talk to them about their farms and relate how their work affects them. It’s a two-way street for communication. The scientists learn what kind of research is needed from the growers and the farmers apply the knowledge.”

The LSU AgCenter also maintains the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service. Parish county extension agents act as the conduit to deliver the latest research-based information to Louisiana stakeholders in both rural and metro areas. Parish county agents are available to talk with commercial sugarcane growers and ag consultants about how the research can benefit the cane crop. But the county agents are also there to help consumers with horticulture, home/school/ community gardening and lawn maintenance.

Waguespack, primarily a plant researcher, also participates in the early summer meetings for the milling community. There are two big May-June meetings designed for sugar millers. The International Raw Cane Sugar Manufacturers’ Institute is hosted every year at Nicholls State University while the semi-annual meeting of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists’ June meeting will be in New Orleans.

“I teach the millers at the Nicholls State meeting about all the things that happen to the cane before it reaches the mill,” Waguespack said.

But the main thrust of the milling meetings is to discuss the research performed at the Audubon Sugar Institute which is under the umbrella of the LSU AgCenter.

Upcoming field days are the July 9 USDA/LSU AgCenter Lafourche/Terrebonne field day at the LSU Extension Office in Raceland; LSU AgCenter Sugarcane Field Day on July 17 at the Sugar Research Station in St. Gabriel; the  July 18 St. James Appreciation Supper in Vacherie; Assumption Parish Field Day in Napoleonville on July 23, the St. Mary/Iberia/Vermilion field day at the Iberia Research Station in Jeanerette; the St. Martin/Lafayette/St. Landry/Acadia field day at the LASUCA Sugar Mill in St. Martinville on July 26 and the Avoyelles/Rapides July 30 field day at the Evacuation Shelter in Alexandria on Hwy. 71.

To view the complete field day schedule for precise times and addresses, visit the American Sugar Cane League’s website for more information about the field days at


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