Keen for season end
Cane farmer eager for rain as crush ends
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.
PUSHING ON: Graeme Blackburn is looking forward to the end of the 2018 harvest.