Cane season sweetens in the Herbert

Sugar cane crush starts in Herbert River

Agribusiness
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The sugar cane crush finally got underway in the Herbert region today after the prolonged wet season delayed the start.

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Wilmar's Chris Scovazzi with the first cane of the season being processed at the Burdekin earlier this month.

Wilmar's Chris Scovazzi with the first cane of the season being processed at the Burdekin earlier this month.

EMBATTLED cane growers in the Herbert region have finally started the crush this week after a prolonged wet season delayed the season start.

Mills in the region only fired up on Tuesday, a week later than originally scheduled due to the ongoing damp conditions underfoot.

Herbert River Canegrowers chairman Michael Pisano said it would likely be a staggered start to the season, with harvesters still unable to access many paddocks across the district due to boggy conditions.

"The fields have dried up a bit in the last week, so we will get a start though it will be staggered. If the forecast rain for this weekend doesn't come things will keep improving.

"Everyone is keen to make a try and see how it works out.

"We are keen to see what the fields look like once the machines are in there and hopefully the sugar content will not be too low."

Mr Pisano said it would remain to be seen how the prolonged wet has impacted the crop.

"The crops have looked a little better over the last month with a bit of sunshine, but it's still not going to be great. We're not going to cut anywhere near last year's crop, but hopefully what is there is okay and the sugar content is not too low.

"Hopefully as it dries up we can cut the more mature crops, but at this stage we will just be cutting what we can."

Wilmar's Herbert and Proserpine mill, which also fired up this week, were the last of their eight factories to start up this year.

It follows the season start at the Burdekin's Inkerman and Kalamia Mills on June 4, which produced the first raw sugar of the season.

Invicta and Pioneer mills, also in the Burdekin, started on June 11, while Plane Creek started on June 18.

Cane supply and grower relations general manager Paul Giordani said Wilmar expected to process about 15.41 million tonnes of sugarcane this year, to manufacture about 2.1 million tonnes of raw sugar.

"As a group, we're expecting a similar throughput for 2019 as last year, when we processed 15.44 million tonnes of sugarcane," Mr Giordani said.

Wilmar is expected to crush about 610,000 tonnes of raw sugar from about 4.26 million tonnes of sugarcane in the Herbert region this year, 460,000 tonnes down on last year's haul. The Burdekin is expected to crush 8.24 million tonnes, Proserpine 1.61 million tonnes and Plane Creek 1.3 million tonnes.

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