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Producing Excellence

Charles Landry

Bayou Goula, LA

Charles Landry and Son

Products: Sugar cane

Size of Operation: 2,400 acres

In Business Since: 1968

Farm Credit Partner: First South Farm Credit

Working with Farm Credit Since: 1981

Sometimes, if you want something done right, you do it yourself. That’s the attitude of Charles (Chuck) Landry and his brothers, fourth-generation sugar cane growers who are partners in a 2,400 acre operation in Louisiana, and a contributor to their success over the past three decades.

“We’re hands-on farmers,” says Chuck. “We don’t ride around in pickup trucks telling our men what to do; we’re right there doing it alongside them.” This approach lets the brothers track how their crop is doing on a daily basis and ensure that their equipment, which represents a significant investment, is being handled properly. “You can actually see what’s going on if you’re a part of it,” Chuck says.

On a sugar cane farm, that can range from planting seeds to monitoring growth to managing a harvest that requires close coordination with the sugar mill that will receive the cane for processing.

The Landrys grow three main varieties of cane, selected based on specific area conditions as well as for desirable traits such as sugar content, growth rate and longevity. Sugar cane is a perennial plant but it produces well for only three years, so in any given year the Landrys plant seed in one quarter of their fields. Once the seeds and the older plants start growing for the year, the farm’s focus is on maintaining the health of the cane by keeping the fields weed-free and well-drained. Supporting this process is First South Farm Credit, which provides operating loans used for input, labor and equipment costs.

Harvest season arrives in late September or early October once the cane has had a chance to develop the optimal amount of sugar content. It’s a challenging time, filled with long days every day of the week as the Landrys and other local cane growers deliver their crop to the sugar mill each day because cane needs to be processed quickly or it starts to lose its sugar content and its value. The cane all needs to be harvested before a frost hits, too, which will render it unusable. “During those 100 days of harvest, we’re out there rain or shine,” says Chuck. “We want to ship the freshest quality crop we can on daily basis so the sugar content shows high and we make more money.”

With three brothers involved – Chuck, Antoine and Camille – managing this large operation takes close coordination and a strong family bond. “We sit down every morning and decide who’s going to do what, and how, when and why,” says Chuck. “When everyone’s comfortable with what’s happening, things work because we’re all pulling in the same direction.”

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