SUGAR season is in full swing in North Queensland with Wilmar Sugar’s eight mills having crushed over 1.46 million tonnne.
Wilmar Sugar released their first crushing update for 2018 last June and said about nine per cent of the season’s estimated crop had been put through the mills.
While rain has caused some disruptions in the Proserpine and Herbert regions, Commercial Cane Sugar (CCS) levels have been encouraging, with most regions at or above budget.
Herbert River Canegrowers chair Michael Pisano said the start of the season had been a mixed bag for growers in his region, which was heavily impacted by flooding earlier this year.
“We have had some fairly ordinary results come out of the flood damaged cane, and the stand-over cane as well,” Mr. Pisano said.
“We had about 30,000 tonne stood over, with low purity and low sugar. The varieties don’t seem to stand over as well as some in the past and there has been a lot of bad cane and dead stalks and poor quality juice.
“There is an issue with the flood damaged cane, with low sugar and very poor processing, the mill has some protocols in place for that and if they have plenty of warning they can prepare for it.
”So while the flood damaged is causing issues, away from that everything seems to be tacking all right.
“On a positive note, the rain we’ve just had has been really good, there were parts that had stopped planting as it had been too dry, but with this moisture there is some new planting and a new crop coming up.”
Mr. Pisano said as people began moving around to lesser traffic areas on farms, they were finding some sizable washouts around riverbanks, which would be expensive to repair.
And while the average weekly CCS is trending above budget, Mr. Pisano said the averages had been quite low in recent years with wet weather combining with a not well matured crop, and yellow canopy prior to that impacting on CCS.
“Climatic conditions enabled an early start with good results, we hope we can keep building on CCS as productivity is going to be less.
“With the low sugar price, if we can get a decent CCS level it will take some of the pain away from the other two events.”