Why farmers are turning their land into cane fields
MORE and more farmers in the Richmond Valley are turning their land into cane fields, with the area now producing the greatest volume of sugar cane of NSW's three main growing regions.
And it looks set to be a big season.
The sugar mills are currently gearing up for the 2018 sugar cane crush, which starts next month.
Chief executive of Sunshine Sugar, Chris Connors, said the footprint of land under sugar cane in this region had been steadily extending as farming ground in western parts of the valley moved to sugar production.
"New and existing land owners are seeing the value in sugar cane and the NSW sugar industry as a good investment now and into the future,” he said.
"As an industry, we have a solid business model, supported by well-established infrastructure and positive grower relations; which has encouraged a number of broad acre farmers to make the move to sugar cane production.”
Growers are yet to confirm final crop estimates from the 2017 season, but crops enjoyed an extended growing season due to a hot summer and warm autumn.
The Broadwater Mill expects to crush more than 700,000 tonnes of cane between June and December this year.
Around 500,000 tonnes of sugar cane will be milled at the Condong Sugar Mill and much of it will produce a low-GI sugar for both industrial and retail markets.
"The start of the 2018 crush signals the start of full scale production of this exciting development in sugar,” Mr Connors said.
"Low GI to World Health Organisation standards, we are aiming to provide a healthy sugar option for food and beverage manufacturers and consumers across Australia.”
As local growers prepare for the start of the harvest season, maintenance of infrastructure such as sugar mills, transport machinery and equipment and cane delivery pads is almost complete.
The three NSW Sugar Mills - Condong, Broadwater and Harwood - will all commence crushing during the first two weeks in June and are expected to be in full production until mid to late November.
Cane harvest season start week of June 4:
- Broadwater Mill forecast crop 700,000 tonnes
- Harwood Mill forecast crop 670,000 tonnes
- Condong Mill forecast crop of 500,000 tonnes