The cane fires have started burning in northern New South Wales as the annual sugar cane harvest gets underway.
Harvesters were on the paddocks this week in the Richmond Valley, where an estimated 900,000 tonnes will be crushed through the Broadwater Mill this year.
The Harwood Mill in the Clarence Valley is due to start crushing on June 15, with a crop of 725,000 tonnes forecast for the season.
Cane growers in the Tweed Valley are expected to send 570,000 tonnes of sugar cane to the Condong Mill to be processed this year.
Sunshine Sugar’s agricultural services manager Rick Beattie said the total crop forecast for the state was up on last year at 2.195 million tonnes of cane.
“It’s been a mixed bag as far as weather goes,” he said.
“Where we’ve had good rain the crop’s grown really well.
“Some places unfortunately, like the area upriver of Maclean, has been quite dry, so those guys, their crop suffered a bit, but nonetheless the total crop size is encouraging.”
Mr Beattie said heavy rain forecast for this weekend could disrupt harvest.
“If we get what’s forecast it’ll certainly hold the crushing operations up,” he said.
“But I think it might have a bit of a silver lining because we had one of the driest Mays on record, less than 10 per cent of our long-term average, so a bit of moisture going into winter will keep the frost at bay.”