ONGOING wet weather has Mackay Sugar cane growers facing the prospect of leaving part of their crop in the field.
An estimated amount between 250,000 and 400,000 tonnes has not been harvested, according to Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri, and it seems likely a halt will be called to crushing before farmers can cut all their cane.
This comes after hundreds of thousands of tonnes were already lost in the devastation of Cyclone Debbie - a tough year for farmers all round.
Mr Schembri said the recent wet weather was leaving farmers unable to retrieve up to 20 per cent of their crop, often the difference between making a profit or a loss for many.
"The importance of that crop to farmers is immense, we are in a business where costs are high, and it's a volume centred industry, so we set out each year to remove all of it,” Mr Schembri said.
"We've already had the disappointment of leaving cane in the field in 2016, crushing well into Christmas last year, and on top of that we had to deal with Cyclone Debbie that destroyed an estimated one and a half million tonnes of cane in the Central region.
"It's just a disappointment this year and last year. We spend the money growing cane to have it harvested, turned into sugar and get paid, so to spend the money and have it stay in the field does no one good - not farmers, not the mill and not the community.”
Mr Schembri said at this late stage of the year and with the weather looking to continue as is, farmers and the mill would work in conjunction with one another to try to save as much as possible, but at some point they would have to call it quits.
"As far as I have been told at this stage, they are reviewing it daily,” he said.
A Mackay Sugar spokeswoman said the miller was monitoring the weather, crop, harvesting activities and milling performance, weighing up all options to decide when to call an end to the 2017 crushing season.
"We are focused on trying to get all of the cane harvested, but unfortunately have already been informed by some growers that their remaining paddocks are too wet to access for the remainder of the season,” the spokeswoman said.
"We have not confirmed a final finish date but have given our seasonal employees the contractually required seven-day notice of possible termination of their seasonal employment contracts.
"The date given for this notice was from December 6, possibly extending if conditions and economics allow.”
The spokeswoman said Mackay Sugar estimated a final crop of approximately 5.1 million tonnes of cane, substantially below the pre-cyclone estimate of approximately 5.8 million tonnes.
"It is unfortunate for the industry that such a substantial portion of our potential crop was destroyed by the cyclone,” she said.
"We would very much like to harvest all available cane but we cannot do that at any cost, as there are viability considerations for crushing cane at this stage of the season.
"We will continue to monitor the above parameters and communicate with our harvest sector and growers regarding the finish of the season.”
via Mackay Daily Mercury http://ift.tt/2jrOb9f
December 4, 2017 at 04:52PM
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