Cane growers have learnt never to look too far into the future.
There’s just too much that can go wrong (or right) to know what that future holds.
With a solid first half of the crushing under their collective belts, however, growers like Vince Muscat are cautiously optimistic.
“We’d all like to see 15-20 cents a pound for sugar and we’d all like the right amount of rain, but the prices aren’t too good at the moment and really, no one knows what the weather will do,” Mr Muscat said.
“But, I’m told the mills are running well, we have cut about 75% of our crop and the rain we had a couple of weeks ago (about 70mm) was just what we needed.
“So, things are looking pretty good and at this stage we are just happy to be looking like we will get the whole crop off this year, because that’s ahead of the past couple of years.”
Mr Muscat, whose partly-irrigated home farm is on Barcoo Road at Habana, said the high quality and growth of his plant and ratoon cane was also looking positive at this end of the season.
“Before we had that rain it was looking a bit grim,” he said.
“But now it’s really looking pretty good and, to be honest, it’s probably the best strike rate I have had.
“We have about 12% of the next crop as plant cane and the rest is ratoon. If we can get a good bit of rain and the right conditions it’ll look good for next year, but who knows.”
Mr Muscat said this year had been a good year for allocations and although the price was down, the tonnage wasn’t too bad and his crop’s sugar content had held up well.
“We know the price is too low, and while the tonnage is there is makes up for a bit, but it is still well below production cost.”
A Mackay Sugar spokesperson said yesterday Mackay Sugar had reported a consistent week’s crushing across the all three mills with good availability, and an improvement in PRS. “We have seen the highest PRS (sugar content) levels year to date, following the rain event two weeks ago,” the spokesperson said.
Farleigh Mill performed well this week, the spokesperson said, with only a stop to replace No 3 intermediate carrier drive chain, and another short stop to change out shredder hammer tips.
They said Marian stopped for a maintenance day for a clean of B-Effets and maintenance on A-Side mills.
“There was a significant lost time incident when a rake from 1A intercarrier dislodged, and went through A milling train, with parts choking feeders in both boilers,” the spokesperson said.
“An unscheduled stop was also required to change out of damaged shredder tips, which was most likely due to rocks supplied in cane.”
The spokesperson said Racecourse availability had been maintained at above 90% this week.
“This is a very good result, considering a seven-hour stop to repair a bearing failure on a trunnion on the tippler,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, in sugar prices, a spokesperson for Queensland Commodity Services, which markets Mackay Sugar growers’ sugar, said prices had ridden an escalator up during the past couple of weeks, before taking the lift down last week.
The spokesperson said potentially larger-than-expected Indian export subsidies sent more red sell signals to the sugar market, seeing a dip in the value per pound.
Yesterday, prices were sitting about the A15c/lb mark (US10.23c/lb). For more information go to https://www.qcs.com.au/weekly-market-report-17-september-2018/
WEEKLY CRUSH FIGURES
MACKAY – WEEKLY UPDATE
Farleigh – 68,774
Marian – 88,977
Racecourse – 66,125
Total tonnes – 223,876
Total tonnes to date – 3,204,016
PRS week – 15.61
PRS year to date – 13.71