ON TRACK: The Proserpine Mill hit the one million tonnes processed mark in the 2019 crush season early last week.
ON TRACK: The Proserpine Mill hit the one million tonnes processed mark in the 2019 crush season early last week. Peter Carruthers

Crush update: How things are shaping up for season

PROSERPINE Mill is on target for the region's predicted 2019 crush season total of 1.58 million tonnes after hitting a major milestone.

Early last week, the Whitsunday mill passed the one million tonnes crushed mark, having processed about two-thirds of the region's sugar cane crop and manufacturing about 140,000 tonnes of raw sugar.

Canegrowers Proserpine manager Mike Porter said the dry weather experienced during the crush was ideal for harvesting, but did impact the crop.

"The dry weather in turn dries up the moisture in the crop, making the harvest lighter in weight and therefore there are less tonnes going through the mill,” Mr Porter said.

"Generally, the CSS does rise toward the back end of the season with those drier conditions, so the higher sugar content generally compensates for the less weight in cane.

"At the moment we're a little bit behind in CCS at 13.71, from 14.94 last year, but the 2018 crop was an exceptionally good crop sugar wise.

Sugar cane harvesting at Gregory River near Proserpine.
Sugar cane harvesting at Gregory River near Proserpine. Peter Carruthers

"That rain in July did bring sugar levels down a little bit but has it continued to dry out.

"The CCS will improve - I believe we'll be looking at about CCS 15 for the coming weeks so that 13.71 will gradually sneak up towards that 14.5 level.”

Although the start of the current crush season was pushed back by two weeks because of wet weather, Wilmar Sugar Australia Mackay regional operations manager Craig Muddle said the Proserpine Mill was still predicted to finish the crush on time.

"With more than 65 per cent of the crop now processed, we're on track to finish this year's crush in mid-November,” Mr Muddle said.

Mr Porter said a consistent end date remained important for the industry and growers, so resources could be directed towards growing new crop and the 2020 crush season.

"From our point of view, growers always like to finish in mid-November to give them the best opportunity to provide a good, solid crop for next year,” Mr Porter said.

"We always would like more cane, but it is very weather dependent, and we won't know a predicted figure for next year until we get closer to the start of the 2020 crush season.”


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