Robert Quirk's sugar cane farm in Stotts Creek flooded by recent rain.
Robert Quirk's sugar cane farm in Stotts Creek flooded by recent rain.

Farmer loses $100,000 in crops during floods

A Tweed Valley farmer says he's lost up to $100,000 in crops due to recent flash flooding combined with the floods in December.

Robert Quirk has been farming sugar cane for 60 years at his 100 hectare property in Stotts Creek.

Between the sugar cane he also rotates soy beans for the soil benefits.

He said the long periods of dry and really intense rainfall has made it harder and harder for farmers.

"Which should be no surprise because we were told it was going to happen," Mr Quirk said.

"This is the new norm and what we can expect."

Robert Quirk's sugar cane farm in Stotts Creek.
Robert Quirk's sugar cane farm in Stotts Creek.

 

He said the issue with the flooding was not necessarily the amount of water, but how long it took to subside from the land.

"Even though it wasn't a big flood, it stayed for a long time - five days," he said.

"Then the really intense heat over 30 degrees warmed the water up and killed the small cane."

He said he lost about 30 per cent of his sugar cane crop at the lower ends of the paddock.

With the rainfall this week, only time will tell how bad the damage will be.

"If we don't get much more it should have very little impact, but they're predicting about 150mm to 200mm," he said.

"It'll effect the soy beans more than the cane now."

 

At this stage he estimates he's lost between $20,000 to $30,000 in soy beans and $60,000 to $70,000 in sugar cane.

Mr Quirk says he’s lost up to $100,000 in produce.
Mr Quirk says he’s lost up to $100,000 in produce.

However for farmers on the higher ground he said the large falls would be great for their crops.

"If this is the new norm it is going to be very difficult to grow any crops on the low country," he said.

His solution for the current problem was to have help improving the drainage on the properties so the water can subside quicker - but's only a small solution to a large problem.

 

"If we're to get help from government, we must start to talk about the impacts of climate change," he said.

"If we're to reduce these impacts we're going to need help and to get help we have to admit we have a problem.

"We're getting longer dry and more intense rainfall.

"As we warm it's going to become worse - you can't solve a problem if you don't admit you've got one."

However despite the extreme conditions Mr Quirk said he could never imagine leaving the land.

"They'd have to carry me out off the farm," he said.

"I'll keep battling."



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