It is a pleasure to report that harvesting and crushing is off to a promising start in the Southern Region areas of Bundaberg and ISIS. Bundaberg has estimated 1.5Mt and Isis 1.275Mt
The MSF area has the seedling clean plant distribution more fine-tuned these days. Seedlings are available in Spring and Autmn. Peter Downes noted that mostly Autumn distribution is planned. More favourable weather for growing seedlings and time available to farmers are deciding factors.
MSF hopes to increase its throughput , but faces the long term issue of land area available – an all too common problem in the Southern Region. My personal thought is that more leasing will have to be pursued to unlock areas of land-banked, arable land.
Paul Nicol, Chief Field Officer , Isis Central Mill called a near perfect start for Isis. 30,000t crushed from start 8am Monday 20th until Thursday afternoon at around 12.0 CCS is as good as hoped for. Some difficulty with wet ground was noted, but this has so far not slowed the cane supply. The estimate of 1.275Mt expected to go through the rollers has every one ready for a bit of a job , but keen to get into it. The tonnages mentioned show a large Spring planting is planned in the Isis area.
The flooding of the Bundaberg area earlier in the year and the rather bumpy ride with income has made the sight of a rolling cane train very welcome. That CCS levels are in line with the five year average, despite the wet growing season, is apparently due to recent cool dry weather over the area. Continued favourable weather will be the most important ingredient in the mix for a succesful harvest.
Recently Kerry and I visited Cologne Germany where our eldest daughter arranged for me to visit a farm. This was a mixed farm in more ways than one. One hundred or so hectares, about 10km from the Rhine River. This farm was founded in about 50 A.D. It was laid out or down or whatever Romans called their method of setting up, to supply grain and vegetables to the newly established settlement of Collonia. This was corporate farming in the days of Julius Caesar. Commercial farming is still going on here. Some farm operations mesh with archaeological digs. Bits of history are always bending blades and causing shear-bolt failure on the tines. The city of Cologne has grown and now this is almost urban land, but still supplying. These farmers have had a new cropping system for almost two thousand years!
The Max Planck Institute for plant Breeding Research is also here. Dr. Wolfgang Schuckert was our host for the afternoon. Our daughter , Dr, Rehan Villani, is in a research project which involves human gene research and so at times when the good Drs fell into discussion about sub-molecular ‘stuff’, I had the chance to see a little of where science is leading us. Having a ‘Wissenschaflerin’ as company was a bit of a cheat, but great. Wissenschafflerin is a female scientist. I translate this literally as ‘Information shuffler, female’. From an ‘out in the paddock’ point of view, seeing the value of plant breeding to humankind is an almost spiritual experience. The ancient forms of modern food crops are still grown at this Institute and to see so clearly the results of a long-term improvement programme is as previously stated. To try to give some feeling to it, I’d say that what a nuclear bomb is to destruction, good plant breeding is to production. Without this science, we would be starving!
I would take this opportunity to thank Dr Schuckert for his patience with communicating his ideas in a different language. Ideas and principles being much more abstract than a lunch order it was almost like ‘paper, scissors rock’, getting some things across. While not being directly a sugar story, seeing how science on the other side of the world is conducted, I hope to put the experience to good use whenever R&D in sugar is the topic. The commercial crop grown on the leased area of the farm was… you got it, sugar beet!
So to a new season, with new varieties and full tracks, we tackle 2011!