PROSERPINE cane farmers could be the most likely in the state to spend Christmas day with their feet up, rather than inside the cabin of a harvester.
The Queensland sugar industry crush is four to seven weeks behind schedule, predominately due to unseasonal wet weather, and hopes are high for perfect conditions to get the lion's share of the crop off this year.
But Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri believes Wilmar's Proserpine Mill is in "a better position than many areas" to finish crushing before Christmas, despite it also being about four weeks behind schedule.
Wilmar appears to agree, this morning announcing a revised crop estimate of 1.8million tonnes, 90,000 tonnes larger than originally thought, and an "early December" finish date.
However, Canegrowers Proserpine manager Mike Porter said there was still a feeling of apprehension among the region's growers, as after a four-week delay at the beginning of the season the crush was only 26-27% complete.
He said it was the capacity of the mill, which was "fairly reliable" and could crush up to 700 tonnes of cane an hour, that could lead to an earlier finish.
Historically, Mr Porter said, the Proserpine region crop would be about 2million tonnes but disease outbreaks, heavy rainfall and cyclones had led to lower yields recently.
He also said it had been a number of years since the region had harvested past mid-November, so growers were unsure how CCS levels in new cane varieties would fare.
A Wilmar spokesman said its Plane Creek mill at Sarina was likely to finish about a week later, and the crop had increased from 1.31million tonnes to 1.38million tonnes.
On the other hand, their Inkerman Mill at Home Hill wasn't likely to finish until after Christmas.
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