MSF Sugar Crushing Season a Success Despite Reduced Tonnages


21 December 2017


With the tipping of the last bins for 2017, MSF Sugar and its growers welcomed the end of the cane crushing season earlier this month.

The last bins were tipped on Sunday 10 December with both the South Johnstone and Tableland Mills ending their crushing season on that date.

In its 101st year of operation, South Johnstone Mill was the last of the company’s four mills to end the season, finishing the year with a crush of 1,522,493 tonnes and a season-to-date Commercial Cane Sugar (CCS), a measure of recoverable sugar in the cane, of 12.08.

The figure compares to 1,721,223 tonnes crushed by the mill in 2016 with a CCS of 11.14, which was a record year for South Johnstone growers.

At the site of the company’s new green energy power plant project, the Tableland Mill, the crush for its 20th season was 708,572 tonnes with a CCS of 13.89. This compares to 819,152 tonnes and a CCS of 13.44 in 2016. Crop yields on the Atherton Tableland were impacted by the absence of a wet season early in 2017 and unseasonal wet weather and storms during the crushing season.

In its 122nd season, the Mulgrave Mill, which finished crushing on Thursday 7 December, crushed 1,300,066 tonnes with a CCS of 12.16. The crop was down compared to 2016 when a record 1,521,612 tonnes was crushed by the Mill, however CCS was up in comparison to the 2016 CCS result of 11.16.

The first of the four mills to finish was Maryborough Mill, which completed its 123rd season on Friday 1 December with a total crush of 598,942 tonnes and a CCS of 13.68. In comparison, in 2016 the Maryborough Mill crushed 791,435 tonnes with a CCS of 14.01. The season was a challenging one for MSF Sugar growers as the crop was severely impacted by drought early in the year, with crushing also brought to an early end by unseasonal wet weather during November.

Across MSF Sugar’s four mills, crops were widely impacted by inconsistent weather conditions and crush rates were impacted by milling issues at South Johnstone late in the season.

Despite the challenges faced this year, MSF Sugar CEO Mike Barry paid tribute to the outstanding contribution by growers, harvester crews and milling personnel for working together to achieve the best possible outcome for the season. Mr Barry said there was no doubt the sugar industry could be unpredictable, influenced as it is by weather, growing conditions and market price.

“Our mills and our growers work to achieve the best possible crop whatever the conditions, and through this partnership the sugarcane industry delivers significant benefits to the community.

“The economic impact, regional employment and export quality product that we produce would not be possible without the strong support of our growers, with their crops underpinning our investment into the Queensland economy of $330 million annually,” he said.

However the inconsistent weather conditions and ongoing drought experienced across the Fraser Coast and Tableland regions reiterate the need for additional water storage for the regions, and with the Tinaroo Dam currently sitting at 38.9% capacity the situation in North Queensland remains dire.

“With yet another dry growing season experienced in both the Maryborough and Tableland regions, our attention in the coming months will now turn back to water security” said Mr Barry.

“On behalf of MSF Sugar and our growers, we call on the new Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Barnaby Joyce, and the new Minister for Agriculture and Water David Littleproud, to take action on the Glendorf Off-Stream Storage Facility funding proposal submitted by SunWater in September to improve water security for the Fraser Coast.

“We also call on the new Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick, to action the full business case for Nullinga Dam on the Atherton Tableland.

“Both infrastructure projects are critical for growth in regional Queensland – it is essential that we have water security in place for the future,” said Mr Barry.

Despite the lower crop yields, the year saw MSF Sugar continue to invest in its own major infrastructure projects, with the construction of its $75M Tableland Mill Green Power Plant project on track for completion in July 2018.

“Overall it has been a good year with our green energy power plant project continuing to progress as planned,” Mr Barry said.

“We’ve also seen significant milestones achieved by the industry in relation to ‘social licence’ indicators such as positive outcomes from the Reef Report Card, Cane Changer activities implemented state-wide and the achievement of new accreditations for Smartcane BMP – particularly in the South Johnstone and Tableland regions.

“We congratulate the industry for these achievements this year.”

With the cane crushing season now complete, MSF Sugar thanks motorists for remaining vigilant around cane railway lines, with the company experiencing only two significant locomotive incidents with motorists along its 800km of track.

“As we reflect on the industry’s achievements for 2017, we take this opportunity to thank motorists for their patience on the roads during the crushing season.

“We wish our growers and the wider community a safe and enjoyable festive season,” said Mr Barry.


Fun Facts – MSF Sugar Season Statistics

  • At our Tableland Mill, which has a fleet of 12 cane hauling trucks, we travelled 1,440,000km delivering cane from the farms to the mill. This means we travelled the equivalent of 31.3 times around the earth or put another way, we travelled to the moon and back close to two times this season.
  • At our Mulgrave Mill, if we took the kilometres travelled on our locos from Mulgrave to Babinda for the entire season we have travelled 45,512 km. That’s the equivalent of travelling from Cairns to London, back to Cairns and then to the North Pole.
  • Also at the Mulgrave Mill, if we looked at kilometres travelled by locomotives going from the mill to Redlynch and return, we could travel around Australia by road just short of two complete circuits (nearly 28,000km). If we looked at the kilometres travelled by the harvesters, it would total 92,000km – this is easily twice around the Earth.
  • Slashing the headlands of our company-owned farms in Maryborough is the equivalent of driving from Maryborough to Melbourne and back – imagine doing that in a tractor!


Pictured right: MSF Sugar CEO Mike Barry and former State Treasurer Curtis Pitt discuss the challenges faced by the sugarcane industry at MSF Sugar’s Mulgrave Mill earlier this year.


For more information please contact:
Wendy Hughes
MSF Sugar Communications Manager
Mob: 0417 043 954

MSF Sugar CEO Mike Barry and former State Treasurer Curtis Pitt discuss the challenges faced by the sugarcane industry at MSF Sugar’s Mulgrave Mill earlier this year.