Sugar crush set to run sweetly

Sugar crush set to run sweetly

Horticulture
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This year's sugar crush is set to be slightly larger in Queensland on the back of better seasons in the northern and central regions.

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Queensland is set for a slightly larger sugar crop this year.

Queensland is set for a slightly larger sugar crop this year.

Queensland's sugar millers are busily preparing for a slightly larger crush this year on the back of better conditions in northern and central regions.

For most millers this year's crush is expected to run from June through to late November.

The Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) said Queensland's sugar production is expected to be in the order of 4.1 to 4.2 million tonnes, slightly more than the 2019 total of 4.08 million tonnes.

According to Jim Crane, ASMC's director of government and industry affairs, the sugarcane crop in Queensland's central and northern areas benefitted from good rainfall during February and March and production forecasts are now fractionally better than last year.

"Regional forecasts currently stand at just over 6.5 million tonnes of cane for the far north, slightly more than 12 million tonnes for the Herbert/Burdekin and just short of 8 million tonnes for the central region," Mr Crane said.

However, he said the situation was less rosy in the south.

"Positive news is harder to find in the southern region where more cane land continues to be lost to other crops and rainfall during the growing season was sporadic at best," he said.

This means that the southern region's current forecasts of 2.85 million tonnes is about the same as last year's disappointing crop.

Mr Crane said the industry was closely watching the impact of coronavirus on sugar values.

"The effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on sugar prices is difficult to predict, but with most of our raw sugar exported onto the highly competitive global market, we are watching developments closely," added Mr Crane.

However, in recent weeks the decline in oil prices has been bad news for the global sugar sector.

Lower fuel prices mean it is harder for sugar-based ethanol, a massive industry in big sugar producing nations such as Brazil, to compete against fossil fuels, which in turn puts more sugar back into the human consumption market and brngs down values.

In terms of the logistics around the crush Mr Crane said the first of Queensland's 21 sugar factories is scheduled to start operations in late May.

Crushing operations at the four southern region factories will not get under way until early to mid-July and the remaining 16 factories are all scheduled to commence crushing in June.

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