Thursday, December 19, 2013

Louisiana: Sugar Cane

Sugar cane field, Louisiana

I came down to Louisiana the end of November, the same time as the sugar cane harvest.

Sugarcane harvest, Louisiana

Before I moved here last month, when I thought of Louisiana, I thought of: cajun/zydeco, cajun/creole, New Orleans, festivals, swamps, bayous, alligators ... (I didn't even think about oil although it's become clear to me that oil - its search, harvest, processing, export - everything about oil - is just as much part of Louisiana as are the bayous. More on this, I'm sure, in the future.)

Sugarcane harvest, Louisiana

I didn't associate sugar canes with Louisiana, although like oil, I realize now this was a knucklehead oversight on my part.

I followed a sugarcane truck on my way to Lake Fausse Point State Park recently, while listening to the excellent KRVS, Acadie Radio.  

I've missed this year's sugar cane festival, but I'll make up for that next fall.

Some factoids on sugar cane

Source: wikipedia
  • Sugar cane is the world's largest crop. 
  • It's a grass. 
  • "Sugarcane plantations, like cotton farms, were a major driver of large human migrations in the 19th and early 20th century, influencing the ethnic mix, political conflicts and cultural evolution of various Caribbean, South American, Indian Ocean and Pacific island nations."

Factoids on sugarcane in Louisiana

................................ Oh, right. .... coming right up ... I was distracted by this.

So anyway:

This brief video explains a bit about the 14-month cycle and therefore, the need for three parcels of land to maintain uninterrupted cycles. short crop (for next year's harvesting), tall crop (for this year's harvesting), and a fallow parcel for soil resting.

Produced by "Louisiana Sugar," the infomercial video below is long at almost 15 minutes, but it presents an interesting overview of the life of sugar from planting to packaging.

The harvesting machine looks so antediluvian. Fascinating to watch.

Highway 78. Sugarcane harvest, Louisiana

A style note: There seems to be no consensus on "sugarcane" versus "sugar cane," and as you can see, I couldn't make up my mind, either.


Unknown said...

The "antediluvian" harvesting machine you've been seeing is the John Deere, Model 3520 Cutter-Harvester:
They're manufactured here in Thibodaux, LA, just off Bayou Lafourche, and they are the gold standard of sugar cane harvesters. Maybe sometime you can get a tour of the factory. -Michel

Mzuri said...

They *should* be the gold standard - they are magnificent beasts and a pleasure to watch as they do their thing. A tour - sounds fun!