Cane growers’ harvest sweet, but rain needed
THE 2017 NSW cane season is progressing well with just over 40% of the two million tonne crop harvested as of the first week in September.
A wet start in June created some difficult conditions for both the harvesting and milling sectors. However, the cane quality improved with cool, dry conditions bringing CCS (sugar content) and cane purity to favourable levels.
Already this year, some newer cane varieties have shown their potential, with Q208 delivering excellent yields and sugar content across the three mill areas.
Chris Connors, CEO of Sunshine Sugar, said: “The resilience of the sugar cane crop and the people involved in the industry continues to surprise and delight. The crops in the Tweed are showing strong recovery despite the catastrophic flood in April.”
Growers and harvesting crews have had to deal with huge amounts of flood debris lodged in the cane but had managed to keep supply up to the mill, Mr Connors said.
The mill at Condong, which also suffered flood damage, performed well, which Mr Connors puts down to the efforts of employees and contractors involved in its repair and recommissioning.
To the south, the expansion into areas of the Richmond west of the Broadwater mill, towards Casino, is seeing good cane yields and excellent cane quality.
Despite Harwood mill suffering some mechanical issues during the first part of the season, the Clarence crush is back on track and anticipated to finish in the first week of December.
While the extended dry period enables the harvesting sector to maintain momentum, some spring rain would be welcome as growers look to begin planting new crops and fertilising ratoons.
Take the Rodgers brothers, for instance. Wayne and Craig own and operate cane farms at Pimlico near Ballina and have been preparing their fallow ground for this year’s planting with disc ploughing, ripping and hoeing.
They imported perhaps the biggest rotary hoe in the country for the job – the Valentini. The brothers have also commissioned a bed-former to be custom-built for preparing mounds to plant into, which allows allows for minimal tillage.
The Valentini hoe gets the ground ready for planting.