Cane cutting along the Mackay-Eungella road near Pinnacle.
Cane cutting along the Mackay-Eungella road near Pinnacle. Stuart Quinn

Dry weather boosts confidence in getting full crop off

IF IT was a good season for harvesting cane you were after, then this could be it.

That's what Mackay Sugar's Cane Supply manager Jason Walton reckons.

"The weather has been good for harvesting cane and the sugar content has been holding on and this is good" Mr Walton said.

"While the weather is like this, we need to get the crop off."

Mr Walton said frost throughout the region had knocked the crop about a bit during the past couple of weeks, and the lack of rain didn't bode well for plant and ratoon cane for next year's crop.

"The good thing is that if we continue the way we are going, then we should clear the whole crop and, for the first time in a couple of years, we won't start a season with standover cane.

"The frost and the lack of rain is something everyone in the industry in this region is dealing with and are a little concerned about. From a miller's perspective all we can do is make sure we keep bin allocations relatively consistent and communicate with growers and harvesters as best we can."

Mr Walton said the drier weather and having cleared a lot of the standover cane now, meant the cane being delivered to mill was generally cleaner and that also helped maintain the consistent operation of the mills.

"The factories have not been without their hiccups, of course, but we are doing our best and the general feeling has been positive.

"Things are progressing well. We are rolling along."

And as for next year, Mr Walton is still quietly optimistic.

"At this stage, next year's crop has a question mark over it but if we get some early rain and a good wet season then it will look better for the 2019 season.

"We don't want floods or big weather events - actually, I don't think anyone does - but the rain in the maintenance period won't affect what we have to do in the mills and even though it will disrupt our track work, it will be much needed to give next year's crop the boost it needs."

A Mackay Sugar spokesperson said across the mills it was another solid week.

The spokesperson said Racecourse Mill had achieved the highest tonnage recorded for this year to date, and PRS increased again this week to a season high of 15.34.

They said Farleigh mill had conducted a maintenance day during the week.

"Major issues for the week were failure of the No 3 mill underfed roller chain and problems with an IT server," the spokesperson said.

"Marian also had another consistent performance this week.

"A chemical clean of the evaporator set was completed and some critical plant was returned to service.

"This should help deal with the high PRS."

The spokesperson said there had been good improvement in crushing rate and reliability during the week at Racecourse, with no major stoppages and the focus keenly on improving the crushing rate.

CRUSH FIGURES

MACKAY SUGAR - WEEKLY UPDATE

Farleigh 57,622

Marian 100,951

Racecourse 66,611

Total tonnes 225,184

Total tonnes to date 2,562,218

PRS week 15.34

PRS year to date 13.28



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