The Mackay sugar crushing season finished about the 15th October. A crop of 4.162 million tonnes of cane was crushed at 13.25 CCS. The crop and quality was well down due to the ongoing effects of last year’s continuous wet weather and the resultant standover crop. Sugar content never got up at all due to the percentage of standover and the quality of the crop not holding up in the end. The years when cane is left to standover, have often led to poor harvests in the following year. A similar result occurred after the 1998 wet harvest.
The Mackey Sugar Cogeneration Project is progressing well and within budget. The commissioning will commence in late 2012. An opportunity was extended, after crushing had finished, to take part in tours of the progress of the installation.
During the last week of crushing there were some rainfall events about the district. The falls were varying from less than 5 mm to over 100mm. Irrigation is in full swing; first in areas which missed out on rain and gradually elsewhere now. The larger falls were south of Sarina and interfered with the cane harvest.
In the Mackay Area, where the harvest finished early, the ratoons for next year look very good. Further falls however are needed to bring about a good crop for next year. The plant cane crops in general are not as forward as growers would like and the quality of planting material has been sub-standard. In particular Q 208 was heavily arrowed and side-shot due to the conditions of last year’s growing season.
Mackay Sugar has announced it is developing a cane expansion initiative aimed at increasing the area of land under cane by 5,000 hectares before the end of 2016. It is a scheme which aims to have the mills operating at an effective capacity. There is an offer for a guaranteed price of $500 sugar for cane from an area which has not produced for more than two years.
Reef Rescue is set to open to stage three. Graziers and farmers in the Whitsunday – Mackay Region have received $6,660,466 in Reef Rescue incentives to assist improved land management practices. More than 380 individual projects have now been undertaken impacting on 56,462 hectares of land.