‘Be prepared for cane smut’

SUGARCANE farmers on the North Coast would be “‘very wrong” to think smut disease won’t affect them, the industry’s peak group has warned.

Canegrowers’ chief executive Ian Ballantyne said they expected the disease to peak next year and remain a major problem throughout 2011.

Last month, following the discovery of smut at a Condong farm on the Tweed, the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative said it did not expect smut to cause any production losses in Northern NSW.

The co-op’s manager of agricultural services, Rick Beattie, said they were “well prepared” to ward off a crisis.

“We knew it was coming ... but we reckon we’re on top of it,” he said at the time.

However, Mr Ballantyne said smut’s effects on profitability should not be underestimated.

“There are heavy concentrations of sugarcane smut across all cane growing areas, and it is having a huge impact on those cane farms affected with the disease,” he said.



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