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Sugar yield up for first 4 weeks


SHERIA BRATHWAITE

Sugar yield up for first 4 weeks

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Despite the late start to the 2018 sugar harvest, Barbados has produced more tonnes of sugar within the past 28 days of grinding than it did for that period last year.

Yesterday, Portvale Sugar Factory manager Raphael O’Neal said that after the first four weeks of grinding, they had produced 3 575 tonnes of sugar from 44 217 tonnes of cane, compared to 2017’s total 2 176 tonnes of sugar from 31 838 tonnes of cane.

O’Neal explained that during the crop season, the Blowers, St James factory ground cane seven days a week, adding the factory was experiencing higher weekly sugar yields than last year’s.

“This is one of the best seasons we have seen since 2010,” he said. “And when you factor in the factory efficiency, I would say we are doing well. Thus far we have produced 25 per cent of the sugar tonnage target.”

On average, the factory was receiving just over 11 000 tonnes of cane and producing 900 tonnes of sugar. Last year, it received just over 9 000 tonnes of cane and produced close to 800 tonnes of sugar weekly.

Before the commencement of the 2018 harvest, farmers were concerned that the late start might affect the sucrose content of the canes, but O’Neal said there was nothing to worry about.

In fact, he not only reported it was taking fewer canes to produce sugar, but there was a significant drop in trash [unwanted materials].

At the end of the fourth week of grinding last year, it took 14 tonnes of cane to produce a tonne of sugar while this year, it only took 12 tonnes.

In February, general manager of the Barbados Agricultural Management Company Ltd (BAMC), Leslie Parris, said there should be a ten to 15 per cent increase in canes and sugar because farmers were implementing good crop husbandry techniques.

More than 131 000 tonnes of cane were delivered to Portvale last year and 10 134 tonnes of sugar produced.

In spite of a major breakdown last month at the factory that caused one of the boilers to stop working for 15 hours, O’Neal said the plant was also operating more efficiently than last year.

At the end of the first four-week period in 2017, it was at 66 per cent capacity compared to 86 per cent this year. (SB)

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