February 27, 2009

Weather Woes Hamper Sugar Crop

BELLE GLADE, Fla., Feb. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite the impacts from the lingering water shortage and January freeze event, the 2008-09 Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida harvest produced respectable results setting several records in the processing facility including most sugarcane ground per crop day and lowest fuel oil usage during the harvest season.

The 118-day 2008-09 harvest commenced on October 27, 2008 with liquidation completed on February 23, 2009. The 47 grower-members of Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida produced 2,555,577 tons of sugarcane grown on 59,527 acres in Palm Beach County. This yielded 300,811 short tons raw value (STRV) sugar and 16 million gallons of blackstrap molasses. This compares to last year's production of 2,599,517 tons of cane producing 300,157 STRV sugar and 16 million gallons of blackstrap molasses. Sugar yields improved this year at 11.53% compared to last year's 11.3%, but below the high of 11.73% achieved in 2003-04.

Records included the highest tons of sugarcane ground per crop day; lowest fuel oil per ton of cane; and highest quality of raw sugar. The Cooperative saves over $60 million or 700,000 barrels of oil a year by using the fibrous portion of the sugarcane stalk called bagasse to fuel its bio-mass boilers.

"The drought-stressed crop from the past two seasons translates into lower tonnage in the field than we normally would have expected," said Cooperative President and CEO George H. Wedgworth. "Our growers, for the most part, survived with minimal damage from the January 21, 2009 widespread, hard freeze. However, we expect to see additional damage reflected in next year's crop from the extended water shortage and lost growth from the freeze."

The Cooperative is made up of 47 grower-owners and employs 600 people during the harvest season. The primary functions of the Cooperative are the harvesting, transporting and processing of sugarcane and the sales of raw sugar to American Sugar Refining Inc., (ASR) that is co-owned by the Cooperative and Florida Crystals Corporation. Refined sugar is then marketed nationwide through Domino Foods, Inc.


SOURCE Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida