The NSW Sugar industry may still be recovering from the floods of early 2022, but that will not stop the annual crushing season getting underway within weeks.
The three sugar mills across the Northern Rivers will fire into action from the middle of June, with Harwood planning to commence on the 15th of the month. Condong is set down for a 20th of June start, followed by Broadwater in early August. Some cane harvested in the Richmond area will be transferred to Harwood and Condong until the Broadwater mill is fully operational after severe flood damage. The start dates are conditional on weather conditions and a few more weeks of the current sunshine would be helpful.
The estimate for the overall crop is still uncertain following the repeated flooding but is likely to be less than 1.5m tonnes.
Although many growers are still struggling with the wet conditions, the good news is that the cane price for the 2022 season is set to reach between $40 and $45 per tonne, depending on CCS (sugar content).
Chairman and cane grower, Mr Jim Sneesby said: “The increased cane price will be very welcome as our growers not only recover their lost and damaged crops but do so in a time of increasing costs for inputs such as fertilizer and fuel.”
The start of crush comes as the raw sugar stocks that supply the Harwood Refinery are almost fully exhausted and a strong sales program is in place with customer orders to be fulfilled across Australia.
Sunshine Sugar’s CEO, Mr Chris Connors shared his thoughts on the current and future outlook for the business recently, stating; “There are plenty of challenges still ahead for both our growers and the sugar mills as we continue to recover from the catastrophic flooding events of March, April and May across our region; but the flood plains of these three big rivers have been the lifeblood of sugar production in NSW for over 150 years. We will move on from the setbacks and continue to build on an already resilient and important local industry.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the ongoing work to repair and restore our mills and refinery. Without the commitment of our employees and the support of our contractors, we would not be in a position to announce the start of the new crush season with the level of confidence we have.