Sugar crop to be below expectation

TWO years after a record-breaking crush, Isis Central Sugar Mill is preparing for a disappointing season, with crop expectations at just over one million tonnes.

A record 1.5 million tonnes was crushed in 2012 and more than 1.1 million last year.

The mill's chief executive officer, John Gorringe, said the crop estimate provided by growers for 2014 was about 1.05 million tonnes.

"That is well down on average yield," he said

"We are forecasting 68 tonnes to the hectare and have been severely impacted by the drought that occurred over Christmas through to April.

"It was only two years ago we had our record harvest of 1.5 million tonnes and 96 tonnes to the hectare."

Mr Gorringe said the crush start date had also been delayed until July 14.

"That will help the sugar content increase," he said.

"It is about trying to optimise the sugar content for our growers."

Mr Gorringe said the crushing season was likely to be about 18 weeks and the crushing should end in mid-November.

"With less volume going through the mill, there's financial implications for us and obviously less revenue for growers," he said

"We are looking forward to the weather gods being kind to us and a substantial increase in next year's volume."

In brighter news for the mill, the overpass on the Isis Hwy between Hendricksens and Hapsburgs Rds has been completed, so there will be no more accidents there between cane trains and vehicles.

"This particular rail crossing for the Isis Hwy has had a history of serious incidents," Mr Gorringe said.

"By contributing to this overpass, we have eliminated this hazard."

Mr Gorringe still encouraged the community to be extra vigilant regarding cane trains during the crush season.

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett said construction of the 3.6km realignment began in February 2013 and was completed by February this year at a cost of $17 million.

"Local community groups as well as cane and trucking industries regularly expressed safety concerns about the highway's original alignment," he said.

Funding of the works was provided under the natural disaster relief and recovery arrangements scheme.

The remainder was funded in the state's transport and roads investment program.

Topics:  farming isis sugar

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