High hopes for cane season as farm costs rise

High hopes for cane season as farm costs rise
June 21 2022

The 2022 harvest is now underway for most of Queensland’s sugarcane growers who are hopeful late summer and autumn rain will push the crop above the pre-season estimate to help them meet rising fuel and fertiliser bills.

“It’s always a relief to get the season underway and this year is no different after flooding and storm damage in some regions,” CANEGROWERS Chairman Owen Menkens said.

“The official season estimate is close to 30 million tonnes of sugarcane which is higher than the 2021 crop of 28.47 million tonnes. We’re cautiously optimistic this year it will cut even higher.

“While that may sound like a windfall season, we are feeling significant pain from rising input prices.  My fertiliser costs this year are double what they were last year and with diesel at more than $2.00 a litre, turning on the tractor and harvester is expensive.

“These increases have to be absorbed into our businesses because, at the end of the day, we are price takers and can’t demand any more for our sugar than the world market price.

“The sugar price is good at the moment so we need the weather and milling performance on our side to help us make the most of our crop and balance our books.”

Queensland’s sugarcane growers were frustrated in 2021 by a series of technical and mechanical issues that pushed the season beyond Christmas.

“Mill performance and reliability last year was less than ideal, particularly in my home area of the Burdekin, as well as in Mackay and the Herbert River regions,” Mr Menkens said.

“Maryborough growers also had significant problems with a cane transfer process in what was their first year supplying the Isis Central Mill at Childers.

“We need to get our crop off at the optimum time to maximise the benefit of its sugar content and seeing delay after delay, like we did in 2021, was frustrating and cost money.

“The other factor that we need in our favour is the weather – sunshine and clear skies make for happy cane growers, harvest crews and mill staff as we work together for a successful season.”