Much like when we can tell a mango or a plum is ripe enough to be eaten, there is also a way to tell when the sugar cane is mature enough to be harvested and taken to the mill for sugar extraction. Sugar cane maturity is determined by the variety type, the plant age in months, the climatic conditions and husbandry care given to the plant.
The best quality test group so far this season says:
1. Burn cane within twenty four hours of delivery – the longer you leave the cane, more sugar content is lost.
2. Don’t include jacks and tops within cane delivery – because they reduce the TCTS.
3. Only use the piler to load bundles un-top of each other, never to push bundles together as excessive mud can be loaded into the delivery truck.
4. Cut stalks as low to the ground as possible, as this is where the sugar is concentrated.
Despite adverse weather conditions and a late start of crop, adequate cane supplies, good cane quality and excellent factory efficiencies have kept sugar production ahead of schedule since the commencement of the crop.
Production figures to February 19 indicated 196,300 metric tons had been ground to date, over 30,000 tons more than an equivalent grinding period last year. This resulted from a daily grind rate of over 330 tons per hour – with an average TCTS of 10.49 (10.81 at this stage of the crop last year).
The mill has been running smoothly so far, achieving a rate of grind of over 8,200 metric tons in a day. The improved performance is the result of a mill “face lift”, described elsewhere in this newsletter.
When the mill is grinding at its normal pace, why do cane trucks accumulate in the Cane Yard? The answer to that comes down to how best we can organize ourselves to utilize the available methods of unloading at the Tower Hill mill. Some test groups like Corozal branch, and Guinea Grass/San Roman organize themselves very well to simultaneously utilize the dumper table and the Gantry Cranes to unload their cane. Some farmers also utilize automatic dumping to unload.
When each test group organizes their trucks to unload 50% of their cane using the dumper table and 50% using the Gantry Cranes, farmers will save time in the cane yard. Time that can be invested in the husbandry activities of the cane fields and with the family. It will also contribute to a constant supply of cane to the mill allowing quality testing to occur as scheduled.
While there was significant investment in several sections of the Tower Hill Sugar Factory in preparation for the 2014 crop, there are five key areas that should be highlighted since these are directly contributing to increased efficiencies and production. Let’s take a tour:
Why is everyone talking about 2017? Because from October 2017, regulation that has limited production and sale of beet sugar and isoglucose (high fructose corn syrup) in Belize’s traditional export market, the EU, will be lifted. These quotas have contributed to high sugar prices in the EU for decades –at times up to double the global market price. Cane sugar producing countries like Belize have been able to benefit from this preferential market. But come 2017 all that will end.