Coastal Parishes saw the worst from Hurricane Laura in Acadiana. Our own Cory Smith has more on what farmers in Iberia parish are dealing with.
“After a hurricane we often talk about that damage inside of cities and towns so those homes and businesses, the power lines being down but, we often forget those rural communities and how their crops are impacted by these storms I am here in Iberia Parish where I talked to one local farmer about how his sugarcane crop was affected by Hurricane Laura”
“Well you know when people look at these communities in an event, you know the inter-cities and the communities where they reside and raise their families but they really don’t realize how big of an economic engine the sugarcane industry and agriculture in general is to the parish and the community”
This is Ricky Gonsoulin and after going through more than 30 years of growing sugarcane in Iberia Parish he has seen a lot but over the last few days Hurricane Laura has caused some issues for this year’s crop. For many sugarcane farmers, they are dealing with storm surge and flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura. While stalks are leaning over and over 5 feet of water covers almost half of his farm’s 3000 acres, Ricky says he hopes losses are kept at a minimum.
“I don’t see, you know theoretically there are some hidden losses involved on the back roads for farmers to pump the water and busts the levees; those are all costs that add up to a thin margin in the agriculture industry are already on but, the crop was a record crop in my opinion, a top 5, top 6 crop before this 24 hour period.”
While flooding can be an issue Ricky pointed out that they really lucked out because the water that flooded most of the region was fresh or slightly brackish unlinke in 2005 when Hurricane Rita brought saltwater into the region and devastated the crop. He does admit there will possibly be some losses down the road though.
“In the 2020 crop more than any other harvest, we were more than 95% done planting the 2021 crop and for a lot of the farmers that crop is underwater currently, and standing water, which we got to get off, it can cause the cane to rot and the 2021 crop could be effected so as a sugarcane farmer and producer you are affected multiple years on an event like this.
For now, farmers in the region will be pumping out water to get things ready for the upcoming harvest while hoping more inclement weather doesn’t affect them.
From Iberia Parish Storm Team 15 Meteorologist Cory Smith