MACKAY Sugar is scrambling to get the last of this year's cane crop out of the paddocks before economics and rain forces an end to the season.
The company's chief executive officer Jason Lowry yesterday put out a call to cane growers and contractors to let the mill know if they could harvest.
The offer comes after wet weather forced the company to stop or slow operations at its three mills and temporarily abandon its harvesting schedule.
Mackay Sugar has crushed 4.91million tonnes of cane this season, with up to 200,000 tonnes left to crush, according to Mr Lowry.
Last night Farleigh had stopped crushing because of supply shortages, Marian mill was running at about half capacity and Racecourse had enough cane to continue until about 2o'clock this morning.
Mr Lowry said the areas worst affected by the rain spread from the north coast, to the Pioneer Valley and south to Munbura.
He added, the company was doing everything it could to get the rest of the cane off.
"If you can harvest, then contact the mill and we will get you the bins. Since we are running at less than full supply, there are additional bins for those that can harvest.”
Farmers are worried the rain could end the crushing season. On Thursday, Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri said some farmers were left with about 20% of their crop still to be cut.
The 2016 harvest ended disastrously for Mackay Sugar growers after continued wet weather pushed crushing through Christmas, eventually forcing the miller to end the season with between 350,000 and 400,000 tonnes of cane still in the paddock, worth about $20million.
"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 Thursday.
However, disputing the Canegrowers Queensland chairman's estimate yesterday, Mr Lowry said only about 120,000 to 140,000 tonnes remained this year, although that figure could increase to 200,000 with recent rain increasing the tonnage per acre of the remaining cane.
"If rain wasn't a factor, then we would have five to eight days of operating to get the cane off,” Mr Lowry said. "There is a real concern there (from farmers) but the season won't end with this single rain event.”
He said further rain could complicate the timetable and Mackay Sugar was assessing it daily.
"You can't just sit with the doors opened,” he said.
Low supply and dropping quality could force the miller's hand.
"We already have had a number of farmers that see the wet conditions in the field and see it as more economically viable to stand over the cane until next season,” he said.
However, Mr Lowry said if weather wasn't a factor going forward, then the mill would continue until the crop was cut out.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the wet weather will continue until Monday before clearing.
via Mackay Daily Mercury http://ift.tt/2jrOb9f
December 4, 2017 at 04:42PM
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