CLIMBING: The amount of sugar produced by the Harwood Mill for the past decade.
CLIMBING: The amount of sugar produced by the Harwood Mill for the past decade.

Clouds clearing for Clarence cane crop

LAST year's cane harvest was the worst since 1969 and while this year's crop is flood affected, growers are optimistic the industry is well on its way to recovery.

During the 2012-13 harvest the Harwood Sugar Mill processed about 236,000 tonnes of cane, the smallest amount produced since farmers started increased planting with the formation of the Clarence Co-operative in the late 1960s.

This year the Valley is expected to yield 470,000 tonnes, said president of the Clarence Canegrowers Ross Farlowe.

Mr Farlowe said the co-operative system had served the industry well.

He pointed to low-interest planting loans as one measure which had stopped many growers from going into bankruptcy.

The loans meant growers were able to secure funds to re-plant crops, which was essential because many were left with next to no cash after the previous season.

Chatsworth grower Tim McMahon said the loan helped him re-invest after three floods in three years.

"We can handle floods but when you get three lots of January floods it's a big negative," Mr McMahon said.

The NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative's Ian McBean said the Valley was more than capable of producing 700,000 tonnes of sugar in a good year.



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