Full steam ahead for cane crushing season


Steam is again pouring from the chimneys of Bundaberg Region cane mills, marking the first week of the 2020 cane crushing season.

General manager of operations at Bundaberg Sugar, David Pickering, said that despite dry conditions the Bundaberg Region was expected to crush around one million tonnes of cane this season.

“Crushing started on 6 July and we’re forecast to run until mid-October,” Mr Pickering said.

“Crop size is around one million tonnes this year which is a bit down. It’s been a bit of a funny growing year with dry weather and for that reason, the crop is down.

“Starting the crushing later also provides extra time needed to mature the cane which increases sugar content.”

This year’s season comes off the back of extensive maintenance works undertaken by Bundaberg Sugar in the off-season.

Mr Pickering said $20 million worth of maintenance works were undertaken at Bundaberg Sugar’s mill, and this had helped improve performance and reliability.

“Mills do a lot of maintenance every year and we spent this year around $20 million on the mills and railways system, getting everything ready for this crushing,” he said.

“We spent another $1.7 million on the Millaquin plant to improve performance.

“We’re still settling the factories in and not trying to set any records, but we’ll wind up as we go.”  

Cane train
The cane trains have begun rolling as the cane crush season begins.

Cane farmer Mark Pressler will begin to harvest this weekend and said that despite this year’s shorter season, it will still be a busy time on the roads.

“We start harvesting this Sunday because we’re on a rolling roster,” he said.

“The crushing is predominantly 20 weeks, but this year will be shortened due to the poor crop.

“A lot of farmers and haul-out contractors do our best to try and alleviate that interaction and stay away from certain roads because we know they’re busy.

“We do ask for a bit of awareness and patience form road users.”