Winter cold comfort

By PETER CATON

CHILLY weather yesterday morning may have left many Tweed residents shivering, but canefarmers are saying "bring it on!"

With a mostly mild winter, sugar levels in this year's cane harvest have fallen below average.

The reason is simple - cold mornings mean sweeter cane.

Tweed Canegrowers Association president Graham Martin said yesterday the content of commercial cane sugar (CCS) crushed at the Condong Mill so far this year was below the five- year average.

"The CCS is disappointing," he said.

"It's the result of no cold weather to check the growth.

"We need a few more cold mornings. We don't want frost, but cold mornings are good".

Yesterday the Bureau of Meteorology reported a minimum in Murwillumbah of 5degC, although residents from areas at the back of the Tweed Valley said temperatures were closer to freezing.

Stiff breezes kept frosts at bay.

Just over 113,000 tonnes of the expected 680,000 tonnes of cane from the Tweed area this year have so far been crushed at the Condong Mill.

Mr Martin said that was behind schedule - largely due to wet weather which has slowed the harvest as well as keeping overnight winter temperatures higher.

He said all the "factored in" downtime had been used up and the estimated finishing date for the 2006 harvest was now the first week in December.

Condong Mill operations manager Greg Petersen said the wet weather had also led to an increase in the amount of mud entering the processing line and the mill's boilers, creating processing problems.

However Mr Petersen said the CCS had begun to pick up in the last week.

The weather bureau is predicting a return to isolated showers today.



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