Thai sugar mills expect to process 130 million tons of cane for 2017/18, a 30% increase compared to the previous year, in view of abundant rainwater that has supported cane cultivation.
Mr. Sirivuth Siamphakdee, Vice Chairman of the Thai Sugar Millers Corporation Limited, revealed that the amount of cane to be fed to crushing mills for the 2017/18 production season might be as large as 130 million tons, a 30% increase from the 92.95 million tons of the previous year. As there was sufficient rainfall during the cultivation period, the average cane output has risen to about 9-10 tons per rai.
Sugar mills have also speeded up their cane processing in anticipation of the rainy season mid-May, which will hinder access of trucks and cane harvesters to cane plantations, in turn negatively affective the production efficiency of sugar mills and decreasing sugar yield per each ton of cane.
However, during the period from April 12 to 16, 2018, sugar mills in many areas were forced to suspend their operation as the government hoped to reduce traffic problems during Songkran Festival. Many of these mills took this opportunity to carry out maintenance before resuming their cane crushing on April 17 for the farmers that they had contracts with.
Based on a preliminary assessment, sugar mills should be able to conclude their cane processing by the end of April and early May at the very latest. Currently, three out of 54 sugar mills have already completed their cane crushing for the season, namely Chaimongkol Refinery, Chonburi Sugar and Trading, and Rermudom Sugar Mill.
Cane growers are now plagued by widespread concern as the consistently low global sugar prices will definitely plunge the final cane price of the 2017/18 production season lower than the initial price of THB 880 per ton. At the same time, the initial cane price of the upcoming season shows signs of dropping to just over THB 700 per ton, which would significantly affect their income.
The cane crushing period of the 2017/18 production season lasted a total of 129 days from December 1, 2017 to April 8, 2018. A total of 124.09 million tons of cane has been fed to sugar mills for crushing, compared to only 92.76 million tons of the previous year. The increase can be attributed to the sugar mills’ efficient preparation of their production capacity.
This year’s crushed cane is considered to be of good quality and has yielded a total of 13.57 million tons of sugar as of now.