Water, water, everywhere!
After Hurricane Irma, water levels in our fields were finally receding and U.S. Sugar started its 2017-18 sugarcane harvest as scheduled on Sunday, October 1. By Wednesday night, October 4, we had to shut down both field and raw milling operations due to additional flooding from the recent tropical system. Only our Clewiston Refinery is still operating, refining raw sugar from our warehouses.
With the tropical system clearing out, we hope to have some fields dry enough to start up again by Monday. Continued wet field conditions also have delayed critical planting of cane for next year’s crop.
In addition to the current weather system, run-off from Hurricane Irma is still rushing into Lake Okeechobee from north of the lake, quickly driving lake levels up near 17 feet—and the entire ecosystem south of Lake Okeechobee is overflowing with water due to record breaking rainfall since June. The Water Conservation Areas are nearly three feet about flood stage. No one wants to hear it, but this proves once again that you just can’t “send water south” during these wet events.