Torrential rain stalls Tweed cane harvest

FOLLOWING torrential rain in the dis- trict, Tweed's cane harvest may not be completed before peak summer weath- er reduces the sugar content of the crop. Waterlogged fields yesterday pre- vented harvesting of any cane for the Condong mill, leaving farmers with the prospect it may be two or three days before soil dries out sufficiently for a restart, provided no more rain falls. "It's stopped us completely," said Tweed Canegrowers Association pre- sident Graham Martin yesterday. "I've measured seven inches (178 millimetres) out here at Dulguigan from Tuesday. We've got a lot of% country under water. "All the harvesters have stopped. It's just too wet." Mr Martin said most harvesters had continued through Wednesday until storms hit at about 3pm, bringing 760 millimetres (three inches) of rain with- --------------- --------------- in two hours. "Every storm that comes though now seems to be dropping rain. We are getting back to the old cycles ... into the wet cycle again," he said. "There's still a lot of cane that has been nominated for harvest. "But next year's harvest will really take off now, and that reduces the su- gar content. "A lot of cane will have to stand% over." Fortunately however, Mr Martin said the cane to be stood over was one-year- old, unlike crops south of Ballina where some farmers believe two-year cane will have to be left to three-year- old. "Once cane goes beyond two years old it starts to die off," said Mr Martin. To date this year, only about 434,000 tonnes of cane have been crushed at the Condong Mill out of a hoped-for crop of more than 600,000 tonnes, with harvesting expected to stop the first week of January.



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