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Crush season 2020 on schedule, as sugar mills navigate pandemic

17 April 2020 | Queensland sugar mills are moving into the final stages of preparation for the 2020 crush. For most, this year’s season will run from June through to late November.

The Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) says the State’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 looking slightly higher 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.

“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,” said Mr Crane.

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

“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.

With strict hygiene and social distancing measures in place, 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.