After seven years of volatile weather conditions including hurricanes, droughts and freezes, smoother weather conditions combined with excellent performance in the field and processing facility have led to an upswing in sugar production for the 2011-12 harvest season, according to the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative, which produced its 50th crop.
The 141-day crop commenced on Nov. 5, 2011 with liquidation completed on March 25, 2012. The 46 grower-members of the Cooperative produced 3,143,327 tons of sugarcane grown on 68,456 acres of land primarily in Palm Beach County, yielding 374,266 short tons raw value (STRV) sugar and 18 million gallons of blackstrap molasses. This far exceeds last year's freeze-devastated production of 2,426,865 tons of sugarcane grown on 61,650 acres producing 265,682 STRV sugar. Sugar yields were at 11.65 percent, nearing the record high of 11.73 percent set in the 2002-03 crop season.
Records set during the 2011-12 season include highest tons of sugarcane hauled and processed in a day, highest hauled and processed in a week and highest grind per crop day during the 141-day campaign. Additionally, records were set for highest overall recovery of sugar, boiling house efficiency and highest pol (a measure of purity) of the raw sugar.
"The excellent performance in the field and factory helped the Cooperative set more than 10 new production performance records," president and CEO Antonio L. Contreras, Jr., said in a press release. "We applaud the teamwork of our growers, our agricultural and mill personnel who are some of the best in the business."
The Cooperative consists of 46 grower-owners and employs 550 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), which is co-owned by the Cooperative and Florida Crystals Corp. ASR is the world's largest cane sugar refining company with global production capacity of 6 million tons of refined sugar annually.