Sweet victory: Sugar growers bounce back after disasters
NORTHERN NSW sugar growers have done a remarkable job in getting the sugar crush close to full capacity after a series of disastrous years.
Clarence River Cane Growers president Ross Farlow said the forecast is for NSW sugar growers to send about two million tonnes of cane for crushing this year.
"Our maximum capacity is around 2.4 million tonnes. That's a pretty remarkable turnaround after several flooding years," he said.
"It's a credit to the growers that they have been able to get the production back up again after the bad years we've had."
He said cane farmers began lighting fires in their fields on Monday and Tuesday in preparation for the harvest to begin today.
"Hopefully the dry conditions will continue and the harvest can go ahead without a hitch," he said.
Mr Farlow said farmers are hoping the seasons get back to a normal pattern after the unusually wet summers in the past five or six years.
Despite the good season there are issues in the market which could affect returns for farmers.
"The price this year is not as good as it was last year," Mr Farlow said.
"That said, we leave issues in the market to our CEO (NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative CEO Chris Connors)," he said.
"There's a lot of volatility in the market and sugar contracts can be bought and sold without us being too aware of the price day to day."
Contributing to this price volatility are imports of cheap sugar from South America and the aggressive marketing of international player Wilmar. "Wilmar has been around for a couple of years, but their change of marketing tactics in the past six months has changed the situation," Mr Farlow said.
"But all that's beyond the local growers, we can't change that. That's something the co-op must deal with.
"We've just to get on growing and harvesting the cane as efficiently as possible."