Up River cane grower Tony Large says the 2017 crush will challenge harvesters.
Up River cane grower Tony Large says the 2017 crush will challenge harvesters. Peter Carruthers

Quality, bin weight and CSS affected

THREE weeks out from the start of the Proserpine crush Up River grower Tony Large is predicting a challenging harvest.

Mr Large is part of a family collective called LOS Harvesting who grow and harvest their own cane.

"One of the problems (following Cyclone Debbie) is the cane has been blown all around and is lodged in places and you have to be careful when cutting it," Mr Large said.

"Another thing is a lot of the tops have been broken off so when the top of the cane breaks off the stalk gets busy and grows another one.

"Through that you will get a lot of extraneous matter.

"It means the ratio of good solid stalk to leaf and top matter is different.

"It will affect quality, bin weights and it will affect CCS."

Immediately after the touchdown of Cyclone Debbie, Wilmar Sugar also expected a difficult crush.

Proserpine Mill manager Danny Van der Berg said there were many unknowns when crushing cane affected by such a severe storm.

"We don't quite understand the impact yet," he said.

On top of a problematic harvest Canegrowers Proserpine has estimated a post cyclone crop loss of 500,000 tonnes.

Mr Large said speculation on crop losses was based on previous severe weather events and the true impact of the cyclone would be determined during the first week of crushing.

Proserpine's Wilmar mill will begin crushing sugar cane on July 4.

Wilmar has promised the mill will be ready to crush in three weeks and work continues to repair cyclone damage to the factory.

This year Mr Large said some growers would choose to burn their fields in an attempt to get rid of the dead wood. He said harvesting machines would have to work longer to do the same job.