Keen for sea­son end

Cane farmer eager for rain as crush ends

Central and North Rural Weekly - - SUGAR -

ABOUT lunchtime Tuesday, Mi­rani grower Graeme Black­burn had about 2000 tonnes of cane left to cut.

He was sit­ting in his sec­ond har­vester, with the ra­dio on so he could lis­ten to the Mel­bourne Cup, in the fi­nal stretch of the 2018 crush.

“I don’t get too much into it, I al­ready bet enough on grow­ing cane, but I like to lis­ten to the Cup be­cause I am sports mad and I love any­thing where there is a chal­lenge,” Mr Black­burn said.

Af­ter a tricky past cou­ple of weeks, Mr Black­burn said the job now was to cut the cane and fill the bins when­ever he could get them. Cut­ting out, and de­liv­er­ing those last cou­ple of thou­sands tonnes to the mill won’t be an is­sue for him. And for those who might be strug­gling, Mackay Sugar CEO Mark Day has the cavalry at hand should it be needed.

“We want to crush every­thing,” Mr Day said.

“That is our in­ten­tion. We want to get all cane cut, to the mill and crushed and if grow­ers need sup­port in mak­ing that hap­pen – whether they need an­other har­vester or, any­thing – they can come and talk to us and we will help them out.”

Mr Day said the mills were ex­pected to start shut­ting down later this week. For Mr Black­burn, who would have pro­duced about 96,000 tonnes this sea­son, the end of crush is in clear view.

“Oh, it’s go­ing to be good to be fin­ished,” Mr Black­burn said.

“Fri­day, when we are all done, it’s go­ing to be a good day; Ha! Es­pe­cially if it rains!”

Mr Black­burn said his sights were now firmly on the 2019 crop now. He said al­though plant and ra­toon cane were look­ing rea­son­ably good, rain wouldn’t go astray.

“We are work­ing hard to ir­ri­gate at the mo­ment,” he said. “Some good rain come Fri­day would be just what the doc­tor or­dered.”

A Mackay Sugar spokesper­son said tonnes crushed year-to-date, and re­li­a­bil­ity, re­mained on bud­get, but there had been a slight de­cline in PRS as the sea­son was draw­ing to a close.

“The re­li­a­bil­ity across all mills was just be­low bud­get for the week, which was a good re­sult given an ex­tended stop­page at Race­course mill,” the spokesper­son said. “Cane qual­ity im­pacted crush­ing rate and avail­abil­ity at some mills.

“This was par­tic­u­larly ev­i­dent at Mar­ian where cane qual­ity caused sev­eral stop­pages.”

The spokesper­sons said a rea­son­able crush­ing re­sult was recorded at Far­leigh this week, with the ma­jor stop­page be­ing to re­pair a tube leak on num­ber four boiler economiser.

PHOTO: FILE

PUSH­ING ON: Graeme Black­burn is look­ing for­ward to the end of the 2018 har­vest.

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