Maryborough Sugar Factory general manager Stewart Norton.
Maryborough Sugar Factory general manager Stewart Norton. Averyll Loft

Sugar crush expected to be the lowest in almost 20 years

AFTER one of the most extreme growing seasons in living memory, the Maryborough Sugar Factory is predicting its worst crush in almost two decades.

With just over a month until the factory roars to life for another year, general manager Stewart Norton said the estimate was for a total of 560,000 tonnes this year - down from last year's 665,200 tonnes.

He said the combination of a bone-dry start to the growing season followed by Maryborough's two floods in January and February had devastated more than 10% of the region's crop.

"There's probably 10 growers who suffered the most damage," he said.

"However, the crops that weren't flooded over are expecting reasonable yield."

This year's crush estimate is the lowest since 1995, when the Fraser Coast's 180 growers produced 555,000 tonnes.

Canegrowers Maryborough has estimated the flooding caused around $144m of damage to the industry across Wide Bay.

But the show must go on and workers were busily preparing the mill for the start of the crush, Mr Norton said.

"Everything's got to be bolted back together. Then we've got to fire everything up and there's a lot of testing to be done."

The new $1.5m laboratory and engineering office would be ready in time too.

"It's absolute state-of-the-art. It's much more modern ergonomically," Mr Norton said.

The numbers

  • 2013: 116 growers, 560,000 tonnes crush estimate
  • 2012: 118 growers, 665,200 tonnes crushed
  • 2011: 119 growers, 669, 600 tonnes crushed
  • 2010: 118 growers, 575,000 tonnes crushed
  • 2009: 120 growers, 687,400 tonnes crushed


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