Burdekin cane farmers are set to harvest an estimated 7.97 million tonnes this season, on par with the 2020 throughput of 7.91mt.

Today marks a busy day in the Burdekin region, with crushing commencing at all four of Wilmar Sugar’s mills.

The Invicta, Pioneer, Kalamia, and Inkerman mills ran steam trials over the past fortnight to commission boilers and other steam-driven plant, ensuring they were ready for the first cane to go up the belt this morning.

“We’ve done a huge amount of capital and maintenance work across the four sites since the end of last crush, and our crews should be very proud of what they’ve achieved,” Wilmar Burdekin regional operations manager Paul Turnbull said.

The Herbert and Plane Creek mills are set to start crushing on June 15, while Proserpine is scheduled to begin on June 29.

Production commenced at Mackay Sugar’s Farleigh mill last Thursday. A cane elevator drive failed shortly after start-up, however the issue was repaired overnight and the mill is operational again.

Racecourse Mill is set to commence on June 11, while Marian will start crushing on June 15.

The crush at Marian was delayed due to repairs on the mud/ash clarifier and to finalise upgrade works for the boiler operating system.

Mackay Sugar is preparing to crush an estimated 5.3mt of cane this season.

Farmers and motorists are being reminded to take care on the roads due to the influx of cane trains and haul-out vehicles.

Wilmar Burdekin cane supply manager John Tait said locos are now delivering empty bins to cane rail sidings across the region.

“It’s really important that people approach level crossings with caution and look out for cane trains,” Mr Tait said.

“We’ve had a few months without cane train activity and people naturally become complacent. With the crushing season commencing, we’re urging residents and visitors to switch their train brains back on.”