Let the crush be­gin

Isis Town and Country - - Front Page - By JIM ALOUAT

THE re­gion’s cane­grow­ers were op­ti­mistic as the crush­ing sea­son be­gan in earnest this week.

Isis Cane­grow­ers chair­man Joe Russo said grow­ers across the dis­trict were ready to roll with an ex­pected ton­nage of 1.3 mil­lion to be crushed.

“We are ex­pect­ing a much-im­proved crop from last year,” he said.

“Ob­vi­ously we’d like to see it higher but that’s the best we have at this point of time.”

Mr Russo said while grow­ers were op­ti­mistic about crush­ing amounts the same could not be said of the sugar price.

Isis Cen­tral Sugar Mill CEO John Gor­ringe said the sugar price at the mo­ment was be­low $400 a tonne.

“That is be­low the cost of pro­duc­tion in ev­ery ma­jor pro­duc­ing coun­try in the world, so we are not on our own here,” Mr Gor­ringe said.

“It is forecast to rise later in the year but it will have im­pact on the price for this cur­rent sea­son.” Mr Russo said the big­gest cloud that hov­ered over the in­dus­try was elec­tric­ity prices.

“It’s lim­it­ing the po­ten­tial of the dis­trict and the in­dus­try,” he said.

“I’m for­tu­nate that we didn’t have to ir­ri­gate much this year but go­ing for­ward it is the big­gest con­cern for the in­dus­try.”

Mr Russo said grow­ers were not stand­ing idly by wait­ing for the State Gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene with ev­ery­one search­ing for energy-sav­ing mea­sures.

“We are pro-ac­tively look­ing at pump units and do­ing au­dits on pumps to look at ef­fi­ciency gains,” he said.

“We are find­ing some very good re­sults given most of the in­stal­la­tions were done in the 1990s.

“The pumps are not up to mod­ern tech­nol­ogy so we look at op­por­tu­ni­ties for grow­ers with a min­i­mum amount of money to do things on their own farms.”

The start of the crush­ing sea­son also meant the fa­mil­iar site of cane trains across the re­gion and Mr Gor­ing urged the com­mu­nity to be vig­i­lant.

“We spend a lot of time and money work­ing on our safety,” he said.

“We are over 500 days at the mill with­out a life­time in­jury, which is very good.”

“These trains take a long time to slow down so be care­ful.”

PHOTO: JIM ALOUAT

HARD YAKKA: Cane­grow­ers Michael Russo, Joe Russo and Rod­er­ick Jensen are ex­cited about this year's crush­ing sea­son.

PHOTO: JIM ALOUAT

HARD YAKKA: Cane­grow­ers Michael Russo, Joe Russo and Rod­er­ick Jensen are ex­cited about this year's crush­ing sea­son.

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