Heat 'another nail in the coffin' for Aussie-grown food

RECENT extreme heat was "just another nail in the coffin" for Australian-grown food, Goomboorian cropper and Gympie Packhouse official Peter Buchanan said this week.

The heat would have been devastating for some growers, but hostile markets meant weather conditions were the least of farmers' worries these days.

He said the timing of recent heat wave conditions was the best news growers could expect from the situation.

"It's probably fortunate that it's between seasons," he said.

"If anyone had anything in the ground, they'd have had damage.

"There's not a lot of small crops grown at this time of year, but if anyone had anything planted, the seed would be boiled in the ground."

Mr Buchanan said he could sympathise with reports from lettuce growers complaining that the heat had made their salad crops "bolt to seed", with the plants rendered unsaleable.

"We're getting out of pineapples and we're growing sugar cane," Mr Buchanan said.

"We're dry land farming, without irrigation and when it doesn't rain the cane doesn't grow.

"And if you've got irrigation, you have to worry about your power bill."

Ginger growers also would have had problems.

Kandanga passionfruit grower Ken Ward said the heat was a problem because growers had to pick the crop before it got sunburnt.

But there was still time for his vines to benefit, with wet season rains probably on the way in the next few weeks.

"The (passionfruit) vines do need water," Mr Ward said. "The irrigation keeps them alive, but it does not replace good rain.

"Our season is from January to September.

"Last year it was dry for most of January, with rain at the end. We probably don't need that much rain though."

Mr Buchanan said dairy farm production also "gets knocked around" in the heat.

"But there are hardly any dairy farmers left," he said.

"It's not the first heat wave we've had. Our big problem in all sectors is the market.

"We're getting the same prices or less than we were getting 10 years ago.

"If you get good weather, you get good production and over-production, and you don't get good prices.

"People have to get used to the fact that their children are not going to be eating Australian-grown food."

Gympie Times


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