QUEENSLAND’s sugarcane crush in almost over for 2018, with all but one of the state’s 21 sugar mills still operating.
Australian Sugar Milling Council’s Jim Crane said dry conditions for most of the year and particularly through winter have resulted in a reduction to the initially estimated cane crop.
“Final throughput is expected to be in the order of 30.5 million tonnes,” Mr Crane said.
“Sugar content however is well above the long-term average, with a CCS (Commercial Cane Sugar) of close to 14.5, the best seasonal result since 2009.
“Despite the reduced crop, down by almost a million tonnes on 2017, raw sugar production will be similar to last year at around 4.3 million tonnes.”
Mr Crane said the unseasonably hot weather had been a focus during recent weeks.
“And the extensive bushfires affecting some sugarcane regions were not something we’re used to seeing,” he said.
“Welcome rain in the Central and southern regions in the past few days has provided relief from the fires and will give next year’s crop a much needed boost in growth.
“More rain forecast for all coastal areas north from about Rockhampton in the coming week will lay the foundation for a good crop next year.”
In Queensland’s sugar mills, attention is switching to repairs and factory maintenance.
More than $200 million is typically invested annually by mills on maintenance and capital upgrades during the non-crush period of the year.
The near-term low sugar price outlook for the industry will place greater emphasis in coming months on ensuring that this maintenance expenditure is focussed on the most critical elements of the factories and cane transport networks.
More than 4500 Queenslanders are employed at the state’s 21 sugar mills.