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Our farms are located in South Florida. For many reasons, sugar cane is the most virtuous crop that can be grown in the region south of Lake Okeechobee. In the winter, when there is less rain during our harvesting and planting operations, sugar cane is less water tolerant. Once it is established, it tolerates the heavy summer rains. Outside of sawgrass, a non-food crop, sugar cane is the crop most suited for the Florida rain cycle.
When phosphorus-laden water enters our farms from the lake, the sugar cane acts like a sponge absorbing the nutrients. In addition, all the above ground plant is cut, many nutrients are recovered and exported as molasses or burned as part of renewable fuel.
Sugar cane is a perennial and therefore stabilizes soils over the entire three-year crop cycle, as small seeded crops require land preparation and plowing annually.
Sugar cane is tolerant to insects and disease and requires little or no insecticides or fungicides. More than 80% of the conventional sugar cane in Florida is often grown without receiving a single foliar pesticide application for insects or diseases over the course of an entire year. Our organic sugar cane is grown without a single pesticide or herbicide application on farmland free of prohibitive material for three years prior to organic harvest.
According to research from the University of Florida, sugar cane provides an excellent wildlife refuge and habitat, second only to rice, which is grown in rotation with our sugar cane.
*For more information: Journal of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists, Vol. 17: 9-12