During the recent upheaval in the sugar industry we were very appreciative of SA Canegrowers taking up the cudgels to ensure all growers’ interests were protected for their survival and mitigating their concerns in regard to the Local Market Demand Estimate (LMDE) sales and investigating the impact of illegal imports on RV pricing and other pertinent issues that are confr onting the growing sector. May the Associatio continue with the good work to the best of its ability.
Darnall mill had a politically tough season in 2018/19. The mill area received relatively good rainfall over the past two years; 1 287 mm in 2017 and 938 in 2018. The rainfall in 2018 was 28% lower than in 2017 and it was 10% lower than the long term mean (LTM). The Darnall area received the third highest rainfall from January to December among the Tongaat mills for the 2018 season.
The 2018/19 season saw a 1.8% crop improvement from the preceding season, with final deliveries totalling 873 576 tons. There was a small improvement (1.5%) in cane quality with a final RV of 12.11% compared to the 11.97% of the previous season. The mill received 173 035 tons of inward cane diversion which was more than three times the diversion received in 2017/18. The sugar mill was the first to close operations among the northern coastal mills on 2 November, 2018.
Darnall mill had a productive season, crushing 1 037 171 tons (inclusive of a net inward diversion), which was 19.6% higher than the previous season. Despite the higher tonnages of cane crushed the overall time efficiency (OTE) was 10.9% better than the previous season. This OTE was the highest improvement among the northern coastal mills. The cane to sugar ratio improved by 0.4%, and the recoverable value (RV) improved by 1.5% from 11.97% in 2017/18 to 12.11% in 2018/19. The Darnall mill area had the lowest non-sucrose in the northern coastal areas during the 2018/19 season.
The mill experienced problems which led to the pol-factor moving out of range (i.e. 99-100). Following an investigation it was found that the mixed juice pol was being diluted resulting in a total loss of 616.246 pol tons over a five weeks to the value of R2 251 763 (at RV price of R3 654 per RV ton). The appropriate adjustments were made. Damaged infrastructure including roads and bridges has led to Darnall cane hauliers using alternative and longer routes to haul sugarcane to the mill. Despite the good control and management of pests and diseases by Darnall growers, Yellow Aphid has spread along the North Coast, with small patches of of the pest being picked up in Zululand and along the South Coast. A task group has been put in place by SASRI together with SA Canegrowers to aggressively monitor and manage the pest. The small-scale grower seedcane scheme at the Darnall mill is ongoing, making certified seedcane available so the small-scale growers can then establish their own on-farm nurseries with the latest varieties.
All growers are hoping for an improved RV price for their estimated 920 000 ton crop for the 2019/20 season. Despite the recent changes in the industry’s organisational structures and the transitional arrangement, the grower leadership in Darnall continue to play a role in promoting unity on all fronts. Also the Darnall grower leadership is working with industry stakeholders across the spectrum to ensure there is mutual benefit and a sustainable future for all sugarcane growers in the Darnall region.