Mike Knott

Sugarcane crush on the right track

SMOOTH sailing at mills in the Bundaberg region have meant the 2011 sugarcane crush is on track to finish next month.

In a welcome departure from last year's rain-soaked crush season, cane growers in Bundaberg and Childers have enjoyed ideal harvest conditions in the past few months.

The grower-owned Isis Central Sugar Mill has nearly reached the 70% mark of its crush, with 839,240 tonnes processed from an estimated 1.2 million.

Bundaberg Sugar's mills at Millaquin and Bingera have surpassed their three-quarter mark, with 1.13 million tonnes crushed so far this season from an original estimate of 1.5 million.

Isis Mill general manager John Gorringe said the season's crush had been in stark contrast to last year's, which ran three weeks over schedule and suffered a record number of rain-related delays.

"The mill recorded more delays than ever before last year, so it's nice to be able to enjoy a worry-free season," he said.

The Cordalba mill has not released an official end date, but believes the season will draw to a close in late October or early November.

Bundaberg Sugar's general manager of cane supply Gary Nixon said growers would benefit from an early crush finish after a season of ideal harvest conditions.

"It's been a little bit drier than average and a lot drier than it was last year," he said.

"From a weather perspective, it has been a far less challenging crush."

Bundaberg Sugar has announced tentative dates for the end of the 2011 crush, with operations at the Bingera mill expected to be finished by Monday, October 17 and the Millaquin mill expected to be finished by Sunday, October 23.

Mr Nixon said it would be good news both for the mills and growers if current conditions prevailed and the crush season was brought to an earlier close than usual.

This would allow for maintenance and preparation for the next season.

"Millaquin and Bingera didn't finish up until early December last year, so this is a marked improvement on that," he said.

"It means the mills are running efficiently and productively and it means growers can get their cane in the ground early for next year."

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