Weather just fine for cane har­vest

Prices down but ris­ing su­gar lev­els make grow­ers smile

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Shane Ni­chols

THIS year’s cane har­vest is ap­proach­ing the sweet spot, the ex­tended dry pe­riod when har­vest­ing con­di­tions and su­gar con­tent are at their best.

Cold nights and dry weather is putting the su­gar level in the cane plant “through the roof”, ac­cord­ing to grower Don Mur­day.

“CCS is in­creas­ing at a hell of a rate,” he said.

“I had the har­vester last week and I was av­er­ag­ing nearly 13 CCS, which is nearly a unit and a half bet­ter than at the same stage last year.”

Mackay Su­gar’s weekly har­vest up­date put last week’s CCS at 13.61 and the av­er­age to date as 12.45.

By com­par­i­son, at the end of Septem­ber last year, usu­ally the per­fect month for the crop, the CCS av­er­age was 11.38.

Since grow­ers are paid by com­mer­cial cane su­gar (CCS), not weight, they love to see el­e­vated CCS lev­els.

This year these will help counter the lower price for su­gar gen­er­ally.

“We’ve been quite lucky with the weather,” said Mossman Cen­tral Mill manager Alan John­stone, “in that it’s been dry and also quite cool overnight.

“It’s just been cool enough to keep the su­gar ris­ing. So we’re hope­ful that over the next month or so the CCS will con­tinue to raise, although it won’t get much higher than it is now.

“Some weeks will hit nearly 14, which means the yearly av­er­age will be around 13.5 which is much bet­ter than last year, which was quite wet.

“A good sea­son av­er­age nor­mally is 13.5 or 13.6.”

Higher CCS means the plant has less mois­ture and there­fore ton­nages are lower.

That is re­flected in es­ti­mates and through­put at the mill.

“Right now we’re run­ning at about 94 per cent of es­ti­mate, re­flect­ing the su­gar con­tent is higher and the weight is drop­ping.

“That’s prob­a­bly where we’ll end up for the sea­son,” Mr John­stone said. “That’s on the coast.”

He said the har­vest was pro­ceed­ing very well and the plant was run­ning above es­ti­mate.

“Mind you, a bit of rain would be nice – at night!”

On world mar­kets it was a good week for the su­gar price, mak­ing gains and break­ing through 14c/lb last Thurs­day. But the near-term price risk is to the down­side in recog­ni­tion of large sur­plus es­ti­mates.

Some weeks will hit nearly 14, which means the yearly av­er­age will be around 13.5 which is much bet­ter than last year, which was quite wet.

Mill manager Alan John­stone

Pic­ture: SHANE NI­CHOLS

Mossman mill gen­eral manager Alan John­stone

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