Bur­dekin sweet, Herbert River sour

Cane crush a mixed bag

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - LEANNE OLIVERI leanne. oliveri@ news. com. au

WIL­MAR Sugar’s Bur­dekin mills have crushed their first mil­lion tonnes of cane for the 2015 sea­son – reach­ing the mile­stone yesterday on day 21 of the crush­ing sea­son.

But the crush has got off to a dis­ap­point­ing start in the Herbert River dis­trict, with low sugar con­tent lev­els and mill stop­pages due to rain.

Wil­mar Sugar cane sup­ply and grower re­la­tions gen­eral man­ager Paul Gior­dani said the open­ing weeks of the crush­ing sea­son in the Bur­dekin had gone well.

“It’s great to pass the one­mil­lion- tonnes- crushed mark in June. It means we’ve al­ready crushed about 12 per cent of this year’s crop, which is es­ti­mated at 8.27 mil­lion tonnes,” he said.

Mr Gior­dani said that other than an ini­tial dis­rup­tion at In­victa, the dis­trict had es­caped rain de­lays. “The Bur­dekin has cer­tainly fared bet­ter than many other cane- grow­ing re­gions. Most parts of the dis­trict have re­ceived showers in the past few weeks but not enough to dis­rupt the mills,” he said.

Mr Gior­dani said cane qual­ity had gen­er­ally been good and sugar con­tent lev­els were rea­son­able for the time of year – with the CCS mea­sure av­er­ag­ing 12.97 for the dis­trict.

How­ever, grow­ers have had lit­tle to celebrate in the Herbert River dis­trict, with CCS lev­els av­er­ag­ing 10.68 and ma­jor de­lays due to un­sea­sonal wet weather.

Wil­mar Herbert cane sup­ply man­ager Jim Kirch­ner said sugar lev­els were lower than nor­mal for the start of the sea­son, but this was not un­ex­pected given the per­sis­tent rain.

“CCS lev­els are slowly im­prov­ing in the Herbert re­gion af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing start last week,” he said.

“The sea­son av­er­age is cur­rently 10.68, with a mixed per­for­mance from dif­fer­ent cane va­ri­eties.”

Herbert River Cane­grow­ers man­ager Peter Sheedy said the dis­trict usu­ally started the crush­ing with CCS lev­els around 11.5 or 12 – roughly one point higher than this year’s start- of- crush fig­ures.

“On top of that, about 700 tonnes of cane har­vested so far has tested be­low 7 CCS, which means it’s ex­cluded from pool av­er­age CCS and from other pay­ment pool en­ti­tle­ments and levies,” he said.

He at­trib­uted the poor sugar lev­els to a failed wet sea­son fol­lowed by un­sea­sonal win­ter showers.

“Ba­si­cally the crop growth mode,” he said.

Mean­while, Mack­nade Mill was shut down on Mon­day af­ter­noon due to in­suf­fi­cient cane sup­ply and is not ex­pected to re­sume oper­a­tions un­til later this week.

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