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Jul 2, 2015

A Bumper Sugar Crop

The 2015 sugar cane crop, which started very late in January, will close next week Tuesday, July seventh at six pm. The opening was delayed by hostile negotiations between the B.S.C.F.A. and ASR/B.S.I. which at one point threatened to derail the crop season completely. With such a late start, and heavy rains already affecting the quality of cane delivered to the factory in the past weeks, you’d expect all bad news at this point. But you’d be wrong. Mike Rudon was at B.S.I. today and got the latest in what has been a surprisingly successful, though severely shortened season. Here’s that story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

Today, trucks were lined up to deliver cane to B.S.I., as they have been every day since late January when the crop opened. In both 2014 and 2015, the season lasted twenty-three weeks. Now where farmers are concerned, there is bad news right off the top for many of them. When the season comes to a close, many of them will be left with cane in their field which could not be delivered, and that means a loss any way you look at it.


Belizario Carballo

Belizario Carballo, Financial Controller, B.S.I.

“The downside is really that we’re coming to the end of the crop and there is still cane that is available for harvest, and that is one of the difficult points that we had to discuss in agreeing an end of crop date, because among everything that needs to be considered as factors that are normally considered to determine end of crop date, cane availability is one and this year…previous years that has not been a big factor to consider but this year it is. So unfortunately the delay has resulted in this position that we are now approaching the end of the crop and we still have cane left. How much cane will be left over is yet to be determined. Based on the last survey that was done by SIRDI which estimated one point two-nine million tons of cane out there, we will be going to next week and we estimate the cane that will be milled would be close to one point one-five.”


That leaves about one hundred and forty thousand tons of cane left in the field, but Carballo says it’s not a total loss. Depending on the maturity of that stand-over cane, it will be available for harvesting at the next crop season which hopefully will start in December. And that brings up the good news, which is very good indeed.


Belizario Carballo

“But this crop, on the upside, has been a record crop in terms of sugar production. As I said we will be milling close to one point one-five million tons of cane, and producing close to one hundred and thirty-seven thousand tons of sugar. That will be a record production. Before this the record was one hundred and twenty-five thousand tons of sugar in any one crop, and over a longer period of crop. This crop, for twenty-three weeks, having done one hundred and thirty-seven thousand tons, will be a record…and it will be a combination of good quality cane, inherently good quality cane – the poll in cane has been a record high, combined with excellent factory efficiency in terms of extraction, in terms of time efficiencies, the factory has performed extremely well, and that combined with very good cane quality throughout the crop has resulted in this new record tons cane to tons sugar ratio.”


That’s the good news and the bad news in a nutshell, and in the past week farmers have been calling out for an extension in the crop so that the bad can be minimized. But B.S.I. says that an extension of one week to June seventh has already been agreed on, and another extension is just not feasible for a variety of reasons.


Belizario Carballo

“Those factors include the cane quantity, the cane quality…it also includes the weather conditions, it includes the period that we have available for maintenance and repairs for the factory. As it is right now we have eaten into some of that time that we need to ensure the repair and maintenance program. We also need to factor in capital projects that we need for next crop, and the time that will take. And those have been the points discussed with farmers as part of the coming to an agreement on end of crop date. From the very start of the crop when it started, we indicated that we intended to go to the twenty-eighth of June, and that we would mill in that time one point one million tons of cane, and that is what we achieved. We achieved going to the twenty-eighth of June and milling one point one million tons of cane. So that remained our position throughout the crop. The farmers obviously would have wanted to go a bit more, and that’s understandable.”


Carballo says the situation is different from last year since the rains have already started in earnest, which means that they have lost the ability to be more flexible where time is concerned. Mike Rudon for News Five.


And in another significant upside, Carballo confirmed tentatively that payment for farmers for this crop will be higher than predicted, based on lower freight costs and increased quality.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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