Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sugar, sugar...

Information compiled and written by Miles Martin

An extensive amount of capital was needed to grow and harvest sugarcane. In 1850, the average acreage of the 35 sugar plantations in Texas was 12,198 ac. A plantation owner needed more workers to grow and harvest sugarcane than any other Texas crop. Despite this, low cotton prices and wet weather caused some farmers to turn to sugarcane in 1849. In 1852 Texas produced in largest pre-civil war crop of 11,000 hogsheads (63 gallons of cane juice).

Plantation workers began the harvesting season by cutting down the sugarcane plant with cane knives. They were cut off at the ground because the lower portions of the plant contained the richest sugar. Once the sugarcane was cut, it was sent to a sugar house. The sugar house would press the sugarcane to remove the juice, which can be refined to make sugar or the byproduct molasses.

Did you know? The Imperial Sugar Company is the oldest extant business in Texas. Since 1843 it has continuously operated on the same site and produced the same products, refined sugar and blackstrap molasses.

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