Over two weeks after  the official second sugar crop  started, cane harvesters  yesterday began working the fields at the Skeldon estate.

Workers who were being sent to harvest at Blairmont estate for over four weeks,  before the August 5 second crop commencement date at Skeldon, returned to the estate and began reaping.

The factory itself is expected to begin grinding tomorrow  at 10:00hrs according to factory management, two days after harvesters would have cut a stockpile to ensure the factory can grind continuously.

Stabroek News was told by a factory official that early yesterday the recently repaired heavy-duty knives were tested and “everything seems to be working, we ran two sets of tests on the knives and things were good…10:00hrs Saturday the factory will start to grind continuously”. The knives were one of six rehabilitation tasks that were contracted out to the South African Bosch engineering firm for US$30 million. These were some of the issues left by the original Chinese contractors, China National Technical Import and Export Corporation which have since caused numerous problems at the US$200 million state-of-the-art sugar factory.

The factory is expected to grind up to 250 tonnes of cane per hour with some fluctuation. According to a factory official, the knives were tested to ensure that while the hydraulic punt dump system could only work at a steady pace, the knives would ensure that as much cane as possible would be ground for every rotation. Factory management told Stabroek News that the expectation is that up to 5000 tonnes of cane will be ground on a daily basis and the factory is expected to grind continuously for 24 hours for the next 14 weeks.

This publication was made to understand that with the rehabilitation work completed, the factory is geared to preform albeit not at the original 350 tonne per hour promised upon the completion of the factory. Instead an official told Stabroek News that the estate was already putting provisions in place by harvesting for the two days prior to grinding commencing to ensure that there aren’t hold-ups.

Meanwhile at his most recent address at Albion during the commissioning of GuySuCo’s bioethanol plant President Donald Ramotar warned against storing cane for too long noting that the industry could not risk spoilage. He said that once the cane was cut GuySuCo had to grind as soon as possible, “it is something I have been trying a long time to tell GuySuCo management. Try to crush the cane before 48 hours.”

Ramotar noted that the estates had to aim for a 24-hour cut and grind cycle at the most. He noted that his years on the GuySuCo board had made him come to this realisation and he would keep encouraging management to think this way. The President did not touch on the fact that Skeldon would require a stockpile to take into account the amount of viable cane or the potential loss of manual labour to supply the factory.

GuySuCo thus far for the second crop prior to any assistance from the Skeldon estate has produced just a little over 26,000 tonnes of sugar in the second crop bringing the year’s total to just over 74,000 tonnes. As of yesterday the weekly total was over 3000 tonnes of sugar produced at all estates excluding Skeldon and the Uitvlugt factory which ceased operations due to no burning. GuySuCo is responsible for the production of 240,000 tonnes of sugar in 2013 the first crop was a meagre 48,000 falling far from the 71,000 tonne target leaving the second crop 192,000 tonnes to produce in order to satisfy the yearly target. Guyana is responsible for a 167,000-tonne European Union commitment and an additional 24,000 tonnes of bagged sugar for the domestic market.

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