Sugar cane harvest losing thousands of dollars due to recent torrential rains

Sugar cane harvest halted due to heavy rains

BELLE GLADE, Fla. - Once again, local sugar cane farmers have stopped their harvest in the past month because of heavy rains that landed in the Glades.

All summer, drought-stricken cane farmers were thirsty for rain and now they're getting it,  which is a blessing they say,  for the spring, but a problem right now. 

It causes their fields to be flooded with water, instead of workers.

A few workers were sludging through muddy fields at Wedgworth Farms in Belle Glade, picking up rocks out of the soil when they should've been planting crops.

"It's been wet," Stewart Stein of Wedgworth Farms said. "We're scheduled to start planting sugar cane the first of October and we haven't got the first stock of cane planted yet."

But with water standing in the fields it means that season workers can't start planting or harvesting, so they're sitting at home unemployed still.

"They're still at home waiting on us to give them the green light, but we can't, we can only do so much with these conditions we have," Stein said.

It also causes tractors full of cut cane at different farms like U.S. Sugar Corporation's to stay parked, Judy Sanchez of U.S. Sugar Corporation said.

"Because of the rain it's too swampy in the fields for our equipment to get in," Sanchez said. "We've had to delay that planting and so that will put next year's crop behind."

This makes it, so harvesting season will have to go longer to make up for the lost growth of the crops, but the problem is, when the expected rainy season would be back in action.

"You can't make it up," Stein said. "You're just behind playing catch up the whole time, but you'll never catch up."

Sanchez said it cost about $400,000 a day in the loss of production at the mill, the increased cost of bringing in the wet muddy cane afterwards and we have additional energy costs.

With many farmers being weeks behind that could add up to millions of dollars lost.

Farmers are hoping for more wind and less rain so they could possibly begin harvesting by the end of the week. 

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