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RAINFALL HAMPERED SUGARCANE HARVEST

 CLEWISTON, Fla., April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Facing the weakest sugar prices in four years, Florida sugarcane growers produced 1.71 million tons of sugar (raw value) from 15.35 million tons of sugarcane during the 1992-93 harvest season. In 1989, raw sugar prices exceeded 23 cents a pound and have traded downward since that time. The reasons for the drop are strong domestic production and high imports.
 This season's production is a slight decrease from the 1991-92 season numbers of 1.83 million tons of sugar from 16.11 million tons of sugarcane.
 "Farmers had some operational difficulties this season because of rainfall," said Andy Rackley, vice president and general manager of the Florida Sugar Cane League. "Heavier than normal rainfall in the last few months of the season resulted in wet fields that delayed both hand cutting and mechanical harvesting.
 "However, the prospects for next year's crop look very good," Rackley added.
 In spite of the decrease in production in Florida, consumers should not expect an increase in the price they pay for sugar, primarily because carry-over inventories of sugar are projected by the USDA to be substantially more than last year. These large inventories have resulted in lower returns to sugar farmers, yet the latest USDA data indicates that the consumer price index for sugar-containing products continues to go up, while raw sugar prices have declined.
 Sugar farmers averaged slightly less in yield per acre than last season, with approximately 36 gross tons of cane per acre that yielded approximately four tons of sugar per acre.
 The 1992-93 crop was harvested from approximately 427,000 acres in the four counties of Palm Beach, Hendry, Glades and Martin. This compares with 427,200 acres harvested last year.
 Sugar production is the second largest agricultural commodity produced in Florida and the largest in Palm Beach County. The industry generates an annual economic impact of more than $1.6 billion and the equivalent of 18,000 full time jobs.
 -0- 4/23/93
 /CONTACT: Andy Rackley, vice president and general manager of the Florida Sugar Cane League/


CO: Florida Sugar Cane League ST: Florida IN: AGR SU:

AW -- FL009 -- 0276 04/23/93 17:09 EDT
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Date:Apr 23, 1993
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