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Louisiana Sugarcane Pictorial

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the 130-plus photographs in a newly published book speak volumes about south Louisiana’s thriving sugarcane industry.

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the 130-plus photographs in a newly published book speak volumes about south Louisiana’s thriving sugarcane industry.

Titled Louisiana Sugarcane Pictorial: From the Field to the Table, the book provides an illustrated account of every phase of the industry, from planting and harvesting through milling and refining. The book was written and photographed by sugar industry safety engineer and award-winning photographer Ronnie Olivier of Lafayette, La. The pictures were taken over a 25-year period.

Using a minimal amount of text and an abundance of photographs, Olivier zeroes-in on scenes that are commonly observed by the public during harvest season, as well as some that are seldom seen by anyone except those who work in the cane fields or in the sugar mills.

These include the planting and harvesting of the crop, transporting it to the mills, the multi-faceted milling process, and the refining of the sugar as the last step before it goes to the consumer’s table.

The book also features rare, exclusive aerial photographs of the 11 sugar mills that were in operation in 2014, plus nine others that are now closed. Likewise, the photographer presents a brief selection of images from a bygone era, as well as numerous spectacular shots of this modern, dynamic industry.

The author provides an abbreviated history of the sugarcane industry in Louisiana and notes that technological advances have made many aspects of cane farming and milling much more efficient than ever before.


“Still, this is an industry defined by seasonal routines: planting, cultivating, fertilizing, fighting insects and funguses, harvesting and milling,” he writes in the introduction. “Then there are factors that are not within the farmers’ control as they hope for a good market price per pound of sugar, wish for the right amount of rain, and pray that the crop is not ruined by multiple hard freezes or untimely hurricanes.”

Pointing to the broad scope and substantial impact of the industry, Olivier notes that 400,000 acres are planted to cane in 22 parishes and that 13 million tons of cane are processed annually at the state’s 11 sugar mills. Some 17,000 people work in the industry in south Louisiana, he points out, adding that 20 per cent of all the sugar consumed in the U.S. today comes from the cane fields of this region.

Louisiana Sugarcane Pictorial is a 112-page hardcover book, 11x8 ½ format, and is available through bookstores nationwide. It can be obtained via the publisher’s website, www.acadianhouse.com, or by mail order from Acadian House, P.O. Box 52247, Lafayette, LA 70505, (800) 850-8851, Ext. 102. It retails for $34.95, plus $4 for shipping. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Acadian House Publishing – Trent Angers, (337) 235-8851, Ext. 106, or Charlotte Huggins, (337) 235-8851, Ext. 102.

About the Photographer / Author…

RONNIE OLIVIER is an award-winning photographer and safety engineer for the sugar industry, operating as Louisiana Safety Consultants, Inc.

He graduated from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette in 1974 with a degree in industrial engineering and worked for Avondale Shipyards in Morgan City, La., then for J. Ray McDermott as a safety engineer and photographer. From 1985 to 1989 he worked for International Salt Mine at Avery Island, La., after which he began working as a safety engineer for the sugar industry.

He served in the U.S. Army for two years in the early 1970s, including a tour of duty in Korea. He photographed Little League baseball and youth football in New Iberia, La., for about 15 years, beginning in 1974. He has done job-related photography continuously since 1974.

His photographs have been published in numerous sugar industry journals as well as local and regional publications.

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