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Jan 13, 2014 11:54 AM by Associated Press

Abundant 2013 sugar crop blunted by low prices

Louisiana sugar-cane farmers have just completed harvesting a 2013 crop that came close to 2012's record output, but banner yields this year will be blunted by the lowest sugar-cane prices in decades caused by a record amount of sugar imported from Mexico and other countries. Ben Legendre, head of the Audubon Sugar Institute, in St. Gabriel, tells The Advocate  Mexico exported 2 million tons of sugar into the U.S. in the past year. Jim Simon, general manager of the American Sugar Cane League, says the price sugarcane is well below the 27 to 34 cents per pound paid in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Legendre and Simon said 2013's yield fell just short of the record crop output of 2012. "We're stuck in a low-price situation," Simon said. "But when it's all said and done, we're going to have a top-five crop." Farmers began the 2013 sugar year with pessimistic forecasts of low sugar yields brought on by a cold spring, and the year ended with freezes that affected some of the stalks. But in between the spring and winter, the crop really started to come in, with cane stalks packed with sugar. The cane was maturing so well, farmers postponed cranking up the John Deere harvesters a week and let the cane grow. Legendre and Simon said 2013's yield fell just short of the record crop output of 2012. Legendre said estimates show in 2013, 32 to 36 tons of cane were produced per acre, 2 to 3 tons shy of 2012's output. And there were 221 pounds of sugar produced per acre in 2013, off 9 pounds per acre when compared with 2012. The high crop output this year came in spite of a freeze that hit around Thanksgiving.

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