Green Harvesting in Florida

Sugarcane growers in Florida green harvest when burn permits are denied because of weather conditions and on shallow fields to avoid causing muck fires. USDA Certified organic sugarcane grown by Florida Crystals is green harvested to comply with certification standards. According to information provided at the Sugarland Tour in Clewiston (, sugarcane fields adjacent to the Walmart in Clewiston (Hendry County) are green harvested as a courtesy. Our campaign is working to extend that same courtesy to all residents impacted by the toxic, outdated, and unnecessary practice of pre-harvest sugar field burning.

Barney Eiland, a former Florida Crystals Corporation Agricultural Engineer, predicted in 2006 that the future of Florida sugar growing would be green harvesting, with new potential expansion of bio-energy production at Florida mills. This transition was predicted to take place with new technologies, innovations, and strains of sugarcane developed to be best suited for green harvesting (Current Status of Mechanical Harvesting in Florida: Since 2006, technology and innovations from around the world have made green harvesting and the utilization of sugarcane trash more profitable than ever before. If US sugar industry executives continue to live in the past, they will miss out on taking advantage of profitable opportunities as the demand for organic sugarcane, and cleaner forms of renewable biomass energy like sugarcane ethanol, biodiesel, and biochar increases. The public is also demanding the adoption of climate change mitigating regenerative agricultural practices, including no-till crop residue recycling, which is consistent with green sugarcane harvesting.

The converging global sugar industry trends by itself makes a compelling case for the need to adapt to green harvesting alone let alone the need to end the ongoing environmental injustice sugarcane burning imposes on surrounding communities. We are calling on the sugar industry to start investing in green harvesting and to support a just transition that benefits all parties involved. Florida sugarcane growers can right now become champions of truly sustainable agriculture. Big Sugar has the resources to create new green jobs and contribute to a new era of prosperity for the Glades. The Everglades Agricultural Area could be a hotbed for agricultural and biofuel innovation for the rest of the world to follow.