Heavy rainfall from a withdrawing monsoon in Maharashtra and adjoining states is expected to delay the 2020-21 sugarcane crushing season of Maharashtra and Karnataka by a month as wet fields make it difficult to harvest the cane. Good rainfall, coupled with delayed beginning of the crushing operations will help boost sugar production, increasing difficulties of the industry and the government about managing the surplus of the sweetener in the country.

The depression that formed in the Bay of Bengal and moved over Andhra Pradesh through Karnataka to Maharashtra, brought heavy rainfall along its path. In Maharashtra, districts like Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur, Solapur, Ahmednagar and Pune that account for nearly two third of the state’s total sugar mills, received copious rains. “After the rainfall stops completely, mills have to wait for at least 10 days for the fields to get dry before they can harvest the cane. Hence it looks like most of the sugar mills may begin crushing operations after Diwali. The delayed start will aid per acre production and sugar recovery, thus increasing sugar production,” said Abhijit Ghorpade, a sugar trader from Maharashtra.

The preliminary estimate of Indian Sugar Mills Association has pegged India’s 2020-21 sugar production at little over 32 million tonnes. According to the officials of the state sugar commissionerate 99 sugar mills of the 199 applicants have received crushing licences for the current sugar season that began on October 1. The industry has been waiting for the central government’s export policy for the current year, which has delayed raw sugar export contracts. “As we have huge cane to crush this year, we advised the sugar mills to go ahead with exports without waiting for the export subsidy. They also need to increase production of ethanol from B heavy molasses to reduce sugar production,” said Sanjay Khatal, managing director, Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation.

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