Ted Broussard: A Farmer’s Farmer
To suggest that St. Mary Parish sugarcane farmer Ted Broussard enjoys farm management is an understatement.
He is, in fact, driven by a deep desire to continually test his knowledge, his skills and his equipment to be the best possible farmer he can be.
His journey to the cane field is a bit different from most. His family has been farming for only three generations and came into it when one could get into farming with a small investment. In fact, if ice boxes hadn’t become obsolete, he might have been in the ice business.
“My grandfather, Jackson Broussard, was the ice man in New Iberia,” Ted said. “When he saw that Iceboxes were coming to an end, he moved to the country and bought 40 acres and started farming in the early 1950s.”
Though it was relatively easy for the Jackson Broussard family to get into farming, it was a considerable task for the fledgling farming family to stay in business.
“My grandfather died a few years into the farm,” Ted said. “I never knew him but my Granny, Olampe, she kept Square B Farms going and made sure my daddy and his older brother did what needed to be done in the fields.”
Now, at age 53, Ted is about to purchase the assets of Square B Farms and bring it under the management of his Ted Broussard Farms banner. Next year, with the 1,900 acre acquisition of the Broussard “family farm,” Ted will be responsible for managing more than 5,700 acres of prime Teche Valley land.
Ted is not worried that he might have bitten off more than he can chew. He has a plan.
“One thing I want to do is make sure that there’s enough land for each of my partners if they want to go off on their own or stick together after I’m out of the picture,” Ted said. “There wasn’t enough land at the Square B for me and I saw the writing on the wall and I left New Iberia to come out here.”
“Here” is the old Lacy and Campdown plantations nestled along Verdunville Road and in between the east bank of Bayou Teche and the Atchafalaya Basin levee at Charenton.
His partners are his 38-year-old nephew, John and Quaid, his 25-year-old son. They’re capable farmers but a 5,700-acre farm sounds like, well, a lot.
“We push the limits, that’s for sure,” Ted said. “In order for me to be maxed out each combine have to push 50,000 tons. That’s not the norm, but I don’t really know what the norm is. If I had to say, it’s probably in the low 40s. But we keep a combine three seasons, and then we trade them in so we’re not spending a day fixing a broken machine. It’s just a different farming philosophy – one’s not better than the other – it’s just different.”
Effectively cultivating a 5,700-acre farm will require efficiency, but that’s no problem for Ted – he’s all about building efficiencies upon efficiencies.
His combines are equipped with Louviere kickers, a combine custom add-on that maximizes tonnage, plus his fields have all been laser leveled.
“I came up with the Young Farmers program through Farm Bureau and I’ve met farmers from all over the state,” Ted said. “I saw the efficiencies from my friends in north Louisiana and the Delta on their big tracts of land. Everything was just precision. I thought if our fields were like that we could be so much more productive.”
Ted and his family members at the Square B began the process of sloping their fields for maximum efficiency more than 23 years ago. When he left Square B to start out on his own, he was the first to laser level in St. Mary Parish.
“Laser leveling brings you into another level,” Ted said. “You get done so much more in a day. There are fewer drains, less erosion, less ditch digging. When I said I traded my combines every three years, to do that I need to stay around the 40 ton level. You have to have laser leveled fields to do that. If you don’t have it, I don’t care how good a farmer you are, you just can’t do it.”
He’s also in the process of converting his six-foot cane rows to eight-foot double drill rows to increase productivity and efficiency.
“Our preliminary tests have confirmed a productivity increase,” Ted said. “We’re not sure how big it will consistently be but it will be significant.”
In addition to being an effective farmer Ted claims he’s a “rich” farmer. He’s not talking about how much money he has in the bank – he talking about the things that really count — family, experience, his ability to appreciate his life and the challenges that come with being a son, brother, husband, father, mentor and Louisiana sugarcane farmer. He credits his success to the support of his family. Walteen, his wife, is one of his advisors when he has to make big decisions. His daughter Jena is another source of inspiration along with his farming son, Quaid.
“They tell me not to tell everyone that I’m a rich farmer,” Ted said. “But I am. Farming has been good to me but it’s also given me a life that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.”
by Sam Irwin
Sugar: Essential Ingredient for Successful Holiday Baking
The holiday season is right around the corner, which means it’s the perfect time to remind our readers that no matter which recipe you use, whether you pull it from your favorite cookbook, grandma’s recipe box, or even your local newspaper, chances are natural sugar will be the sweetener of choice, just as it has been for centuries.
We all know the important role sugar plays as a sweetener and flavor enhancer, but sugar (and the amount called for in standard baked goods) also plays a critical role in the science of baking.
Ever wondered, for example, about the secret behind that golden brown, flavorful and slightly crisp surface of breads, cakes, and cookies that not only tastes great, but also helps retain moisture in the product?
The answer is sugar. Sugar caramelizes when heated above its melting point, sealing in flavor and leading to surface browning, which improves moisture retention in baked products.
At oven temperatures, sugar also interacts with proteins in the baking product. The myriad of changes – known technically as “Maillard reactions” – are the second way in which bread crusts, cakes and cookies get their familiar tastes and colors.
Sugar also plays an integral role in helping promote lightness in cakes and cookies by incorporating air into the shortening. Air is trapped on the face of sugar’s irregular crystals. When sugar is mixed with shortening, this air becomes incorporated as very small air cells. During baking, these air cells expand when filled with carbon dioxide and other gases from the leavening agent.
In foam-type cakes, sugar interacts with egg proteins to stabilize the whipped foam structure. In doing so, sugar makes the egg foam more elastic so that air cells can expand.
In unshortened cakes, on the other hand, sugar molecules disperse among egg proteins and delay coagulation of the egg proteins during baking. As the temperature rises, egg proteins coagulate, or form bonds among each other. The sugar molecules raise the temperature at which bonds form between these egg proteins by surrounding the egg proteins and interfering with bond formations. Once the egg proteins coagulate, the cake “sets,” forming the solid mesh-like structure of the cake.
Last but certainly not least, sugar also helps prevent cracking of some cookies. As sugar crystallizes, it gives off heat that evaporates the water it absorbed during mixing and baking. At the same time, leavening gases expand and cause cracking of the dry surface.
These are just a few examples of the many ways all natural sugar works in batters and doughs and how it works together with other ingredients in some popular holiday recipes to create the wonderful baked goods we all love this time of year. For more information on sugar’s role in bakery foods, download our handbook on sugar’s role in food preparation.
When it comes to holiday baking, there is no product as versatile and essential as all natural sugar.
Happy Holiday Baking!
1 cup sugar
½ cup boiling water
2 cups scalded milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
Make caramel syrup by heating 1 cup sugar in heavy iron skillet. When it turns a rich, golden color, add ½ cup boiling water. Stir until all sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool. Put 1 teaspoon of syrup into each custard cup.
Mix all other ingredients in blender, divide among 8 custard cups. Place custard cups in large baking pan, half filled with water. Bake at 350⁰ for 30 minutes. Yield: 8 servings.
Many Thanks to Nell Clark of Franklin, Louisiana, for Joe’s Favorite Cup Custard. The recipe appears in From the Sugar Bowl, a cookbook published by the American Sugar Cane League.