In Australia wet weather may force sugar cane to remain in the ground


Ongoing wet weather has Mackay Sugar cane growers facing the prospect of leaving part of their crop in the field.

It is reported by Daily Mercury.

An estimated amount between 250,000 and 400,000 tonnes has not been harvested, according to Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri, and it seems likely a halt will be called to crushing before farmers can cut all their cane. This comes after hundreds of thousands of tonnes were already lost in the devastation of Cyclone Debbie.

Mr Schembri said the recent wet weather was leaving farmers unable to retrieve up to 20% of their crop.

«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, — We've already had the disappointment of leaving cane in the field in 2016 and on top of that we had to deal with Cyclone Debbie that destroyed an estimated one and a half million tonnes of cane in the Central region. It's just a disappointment this year and last year. We spend the money growing cane to have it harvested, turned into sugar and get paid, so to spend the money and have it stay in the field does no one good — not farmers, not the mill and not the community».

Mackay Sugar spokeswoman said the miller was monitoring the weather, crop, harvesting activities and milling performance, weighing up all options to decide when to call an end to the 2017 crushing season.

«We are focused on trying to get all of the cane harvested, but unfortunately have already been informed by some growers that their remaining paddocks are too wet to access for the remainder of the season, — the spokeswoman said, — We have not confirmed a final finish date but have given our seasonal employees the contractually required seven-day notice of possible termination of their seasonal employment contracts».

Mackay Sugar estimated a final crop of approximately 5,1 million tonnes of cane, substantially below the pre-cyclone estimate of approximately 5,8 million tonnes.

«It is unfortunate for the industry that such a substantial portion of our potential crop was destroyed by the cyclone, — she said, — We would very much like to harvest all available cane but we cannot do that at any cost. We will continue to monitor the above parameters and communicate with our harvest sector and growers regarding the finish of the season».


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