The 2023 sugarcane crush is officially underway, with harvesters roaring into life across the Atherton Tablelands this week as growers, harvesting crews and mill workers start the race to get Queensland’s 30 million tonnes of cane cut and crushed by the end of November.
"The weather is pretty spectacular at the minute. We have blue skies and cool temperatures, so perfect weather for harvesting," CANEGROWERS Tableland Chairman Claude Santucci said.
"We had a bit of a cold snap come through a few days ago, so that will help push up the sugar content a bit, although it will be a while before we start getting decent levels.
"The early cut cane from last year is looking really nice…if we can keep this weather and the mill has a good run, I'm hopeful we can have a pretty good 2023 season."
Tully Mill is expected to be the next cab off the rank when it fires up later this week, with the remainder of Queensland’s 19 sugar mills coming online over the coming weeks.
Latest estimates put the crop at 30.55 million tonnes of cane, producing between 4 and 4.5 million tonnes of sugar, the majority of which will be exported to overseas markets in Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia.
With the world sugar price hitting record highs and forecasters predicting a drier winter this year, growers are optimistic that 2023 could be a bumper year for the industry, CANEGROWERS Chairman Owen Menkens said.
“Last year we were pretty optimistic going into the crush, with prices on the up and a great crop in the paddock, but unfortunately things didn’t pan out the way we wanted,” Mr Menkens said.
“Poor weather, workforce shortages, and poor mill performance in some areas combined to cause major disruptions that ultimately led to the crush running through Christmas and well into the new year in some districts, and around one million tonnes of cane left unharvested.”
Mr Menkens said there was a very positive feeling around the industry at the minute, with the industry on the verge of a transition to a range of new and growing opportunities in the bioeconomy that rely upon sugarcane for feedstock.
“The export of raw sugar will always be the foundation of our industry, but we know there a many other complimentary opportunities that are emerging for the industry and we hope that this coming season, combined with a strong price, will provide the basis for new and increased investment into these exciting projects.”