Louisiana sugarcane crop escapes extensive damage

Agriculture

Water stands in a field of New Iberia farmer Ricky Gonsoulin’s sugarcane, which suffered wind damage from Hurricane Laura.

BATON ROUGE, La. (LSU AgCenter) – One week after Hurricane Laura came ashore, Louisiana’s sugarcane crop is still showing some signs of the storm, but the damage is not as extensive as feared as Laura approached the state.

“We did have storm surge — maybe not to the extent with Hurricane Rita, but we do have some growers out there with significant impact,” said Kenneth Gravois, the LSU AgCenter state sugarcane specialist.

One of those who dealt with the storm surge is Ricky Gonsoulin, an Iberia Parish sugarcane farmer.

“We received about 5 feet of tidal surge well after the storm,” Gonsoulin said. “There’s some wind damage, but more than likely, it’s the surge we’re fighting.”

A week after the storm, Gonsoulin is running a 48-inch pump and made three cuts into a levee to drain the water from his fields. These efforts to save his crop are cutting into his profit margin.

“All of this cost is burdened on the farmer — the diesel costs, pumping costs,” he said. “All of the damages go down to the farmer, and it goes down to the pocketbook of the farmer.”

Even with all the work brought on by Laura, Gonsoulin remains optimistic about his crop.

“We had a great crop, probably one of the better crops I’ve had in a long history before the storm,” he said. “And it is still out there.”

Charles Canatella farms 2,000 acres of sugarcane in St. Landry Parish with his son. The central part of the state received high winds from the storm, but after some sunny days, Canatella could see the cane rebounding.

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