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

Our sour harvest to turn sweet?

TWEED canegrowers expect to finish harvesting "the worst crop in 40 years" in early November - more than a month earlier than usual.

But they are crossing their fingers and planting eagerly in the hope of a better season and crop next year - provided a predicted return of the La Nina weather pattern, which could bring flood rains, holds off.

"We've got about two to three weeks to go," said chairman of the Tweed River branch of the Canegrowers' Association Robert Quirk regarding this year's harvest.

"We are hoping to finish on November 12. The crop is probably the worst we've had for 40 years.

"But there's still a bit of enthusiasm in the field.

"People have planted a lot of cane.

"Hopefully we will be back in the business with a good crop next year."

Mr Quirk said growers had been given "a little bit of cash flow" through low-interest loans from the Northern NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative after many faced hard financial times due to a run of bad seasons and poor crops.

The money had helped them replant and fertilise.

Both the NSW and Federal Governments had refused to provide grants despite the farmers arguing this year's bad season was due to flooding rains early this year which attracted emergency assistance for many other people.

Mr Quirk said this year's crop had a good sugar content but the crop itself had been greatly reduced "because of the continued wet weather along the whole east coast of Australia except the Burdekin (near Townsville)".

"We are hoping for some sort of normal season from here until the end of February," he added.

"But the forecasts aren't great. La Nina is coming back again.

"We can only hope. We are doing all we can to maximise the crop next year but you can't do anything about the weather."



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