Cane grow­ers’ har­vest sweet, but rain needed

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - Front Page -

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.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

The Valen­tini hoe gets the ground ready for plant­ing.

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