Black ash is back

TWEED residents, especially those near cane growing areas, can expect a return of black snow for the next month to six weeks as cane fields are set alight during the start of the annual harvest.

The black ash, hated for staining washing hung out to dry, has made a comeback despite promises over previous years that the multi-million dollar co-generation plant at Condong Mill would mean the waste from green cane could be burnt to supply electricity.

Tweed River branch chairman of the Canegrowers Association Robert Quirk confirmed the mill was unable to crush cane which had not been separated from cane trash but said work was under way to study ways to separate the leaves first.

Mr Quirk said cane fires, which began at the start of the 2010 harvest last week, would continue to be common until August 4 and occasionally after that because the Condong mill could not handle the trash.

He added, after August 4 farmers hoped to cut 100,000 tonnes “with no fires” as harvesters separated 50 per cent of the trash. If the mill could not handle that, the amount would be reduced to “25 per cent or whatever” until the suitable ratio is found.



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