Bitter year for sugar cane growers
IT WAS to be a ‘back on track’ year for the region’s sugar cane growers, according to NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative manager of agricultural services Rick Beattie, but now with crushing almost complete growers can only hope 2011 brings better luck than recent years.
When the Harwood mill finishes crushing, probably before Christmas, the region’s yield is expected to stand at 1.7 million tonnes, a long way down from 2006, when 2.6 million tonnes were crushed.
This year’s yield is the lowest in about 20 years.
“Constant wet weather has lowered the yields,” Mr Beattie said.
The industry had still not recovered from severe frosts in 2007 and flooding in 2008 and 2009, Mr Beattie said.
This year’s wet weather has meant only about 50 per cent of the total area which could have gone under cane has actually been planted and this will affect the 2012 yield.
And some of this year’s plantings have failed to germinate; there had also been issues with weeds.
“There has just been a lot of things we have had to contend with,” Mr Beattie said.
The saving grace has been a 30-year high sugar price.
Broadwater finished crushing this year with 592 million tonnes processed, down 30 per cent on the mill’s 10-year average.
The NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative has a market share of about 4.5 per cent of Australia’s $2.5 billion dollar sugar industry.