THE sugar cane harvest is finally under way across North Queensland despite wet weather hampering the start of the crush.
Wilmar has now fired up all eight of its mills, with the Burdekin region hitting the milestone of one million tonnes crushed late last week.
Cane supply and grower relations general manager Paul Giordani said the company expected to process 15.07 million tonnes of cane this season and manufacture 2.1 million tonnes of raw sugar.
Invicta Mill on the Burdekin was the first to kick off on June 10, with the four mills in the region having crushed 1,044,944 tonnes as of Saturday.
"Ground conditions are improving, but there are still some wet paddocks in the region and this is impacting cane supply," Mr Giordani said.
"Factory reliability for start-ups has been good and we're now focused on increasing crush rates.
"We've completed the first scheduled cleaning intermissions at all four Burdekin mills."
The Herbert mills started on June 23, but ongoing wet weather also hampered harvesting operations and cane supply in the district last week. The Macknade Mill resumed crushing on Saturday and while the Herbert district did not get a full cane supply on Monday, millers were hoping it would dry out enough to achieve this on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Up to July 4, the two Herbert mills had crushed 201,781 tonnes of their forecast crop of 4.1 million tonnes.
The Plane Creek Mill also fired up on June 23 and in the second week of operations saw a steady rise in CCS to average 11.85. As of Friday, the mill had crushed 77,000 tonnes, or 6 per cent of their estimated 1.25 million tonnes.
"The process house is performing well but we are monitoring low bagasse levels," Mr Giordani said. "The harvesting sector is struggling with wet field conditions, resulting in some cane supply gaps."
The Proserpine Mill was the last to fire up just after midday last Wednesday, after wet weather delayed the season start by 24 hours. Throughput for the first week was 28,326 tonnes, with an average CCS of 12.12.