Wilmar site manager Danny Van der Berg with cane supply manager Tony Marino at the Proserpine mill yesterday.
Wilmar site manager Danny Van der Berg with cane supply manager Tony Marino at the Proserpine mill yesterday. Peter Carruthers

Canegrowers estimate TC Debbie has wiped $16m from Proserpine economy

MANAGER of Proserpine Canegrowers, Mike Porter this week crunched some numbers based on a yield reduction of 3-400,000 tonnes and estimated Cyclone Debbie had knocked $16million off the local economy based on cane being worth $40 a tonne.

In the immediate wake of Cyclone Debbie crop estimates had the 2017 Proserpine crush down 500,000 tonnes and expected commercial cane sugar to dip two units.

In the week ending July 9, Wilmar's Proserpine mill reported a throughput of 30,258 tonnes and CCS came in at 11.4.

Last year the average CCS was 12.7.

Site manager at the Proserpine mill, Mr Van der Berg, said the first week of crushing had produced "slightly better" CCS than estimated.

The 2017 cane crush began on time this year at Wilmar's Proserpine mill on July 4.
CANE CRUSH: CCS increased by 0.33 of a unit from last week at Wilmar's Proserpine mill. Peter Carruthers

"(But as far as crop) estimates (it's) early days, we don't really know... we will only really get a true feeling probably a third of the way through the season," he said.

Mr Porter said Proserpine Canegrowers was "happy" to see CCS in double figures.

"I am hopeful that the CCS will continue to move up at the back end of the crush," he said.

"It had landed a little better than what we originally estimated."

Mr Porter said although only 30,000 tonnes of cane went through the mill last week he was optimistic that the crop would cut a little higher than estimated.

"Perhaps we might get above the 1.4 million (tonne mark) which is what we estimated," he said.

But compared to the two million tonnes crushed last year the 2017 season was going to be a big hit to the hip pocket of growers.

The three factors that determine a grower's return are stacked against the Proserpine farmer this year and Mr Porter said most growers will not even break even in 2017.

"We are dealing with a lower commodity value for a start, and here in Proserpine we are obviously dealing with a reduction in the tonnage and we are also dealing with a reduction in the sugar content," he said.

"Most growers are reporting they are probably down about 20% on their gross tonnage production, we are probably talking for the average grower there will be no profitably in 2017.

"Most growers will turn a loss and be lucky to break even," Mr Porter said.