Cane harvest low this year, but sweet outlook for 2013

Canefarmers’ chairman Robert Quirk at his Stotts Creek farm. He is confident of greener times ahead despite a poor crop this year.
Canefarmers’ chairman Robert Quirk at his Stotts Creek farm. He is confident of greener times ahead despite a poor crop this year. John Gass

THE last few seasons have been extremely difficult for canegrowers and although growers in the Clarence Valley report they have just harvested their smallest crop in 60 years, planting for next season is set to be a record for the industry.

Australian Cane Farmers Association director NSW Robert Quirk said although the Tweed experienced some damage, it was not as bad as in the other two river areas.

"We're in recovery mode and are undertaking the biggest planting in the district ever.

"Weather conditions permitting we'll be very close to normal next year.

"Growers have had a bad year with a lot of expenses but there's optimism throughout the industry.

"We're planting some 5-10% more than average and if the weather allows, we're looking good for next year," Mr Quirk said.

Chairman of the NSW Canegrowers Wayne Rogers said the 2012 season was historically one of the worst for 40 years, with less than a million tonnes cut across the Richmond, Clarence and Tweed rivers.

"With the record planting undertaken there is every reason to believe we will be back at the two million tonne mark within a couple of years.

"Plantings at this level are unheard of," Mr Rogers said.

Chairman of the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative Ian Causley said from observation, growers should be congratulated on the impressive plantings at this present time.

This should ensure production into the future, vital for long-term security.

This year's record plantings came on the back of the 2010/2011 season which was almost a repeat of the 2009/2010 disastrous wet year.

"In my lifetime I believe this is the longest continuous period of wet weather I can remember.

"Whilst the results have certainly been felt in the 2011/2012 season, there is no doubt that what has happened in the field with plantings this year and for that matter last year, with a little bit of favourable weather, we are heading back to far better throughputs," Mr Causley said.

Topics:  cane harvesting

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